How I Paint Russians

It seems “what colours do you use for WW1 Russian uniforms?” is one of those things that comes up again and again. I’ve been painting an awful lot of Russians (of various WW1/Russian Civil War flavours!) for a year or two now, and I’ve been asked for painting recipes in email, in comments here, and on forums. It’s time to do something I should have done months ago – write a flippin’ blog post that I can link people to, to save myself the trouble of typing the same thing out again and again…

I paint with Reaper Master Series paints, largely because they’re carried by my FLGS and the price point (especially when you buy in Triad sets) is better than GW or Vallejo. Reaper has this awesome web-gadget called the Power Palette that you can fire an image in, then extract the closest Master Series colours from. I scanned a couple of images from the Osprey Publishing RCW books and got the Power Palette to suggest a list of colours for me.

Red Horde!
A Russian Civil War Bolshevik infantry force.

I’ll add better shots of my painted figures eventually, but here’s my basic World War One/Russian Civil War Russian uniform recipe, all paints Reaper Master Series unless stated otherwise.

For all figures:
Base: Khaki Shadow
Wash: GW Devlan Mud (note that this is now out of production (thanks, geniuses at GW…) so I’ll eventually have to find an alternative…)
First highlight back up with straight Khaki Shadow.

My Reds get a much darker Devlan Mud wash, the Khaki Shadow highlight, and that’s pretty much it.

My Whites get another round of highlighting with Terran Khaki. Officers in especially spiffy uniforms get a final highlight with Khaki Highlight.

Some Russian uniforms seem to have darker, greener trousers; I use Military Green as a base there, sometimes just as a wash over Khaki Shadow.

The Russian uniform procurement process, even before the Civil War started, was known to produce quite a bit of variation in what was nominally the same colour of cloth. I use Bone Shadow and Polished Bone as alternate base colours, especially in the Red forces. For the Reds, I also use a lot of other random colours – other greens, browns and greys especially, as the early RCW Red Guard/Red Army had enormous trouble (even by the usual Russian standards, which is saying something!) keeping anything like an actual “uniform” appearance!

The Whites had equal trouble at various stages, but I keep my Whites in neater trim than my Reds, purely so the two forces can be told apart on the tabletop!

For Cossack blue trousers, Soft Blue base. I need to rediscover what I highlight Soft Blue with, I appear not to have written it down in my painting notes… I also have no photos at all of my Cossack infantry plaston, which is a shame.

sailors_16may
Red Sailors! See below for painting notes.

For Red Sailors, Worn Navy for blue base, Leather White for white base, Pure Black for black, Khaki Shadow (again) for khaki/green. Kerchiefs are Sapphire Blue.

The Worn Navy gets a very thin wash of 1:1 Worn Navy:Pure Black for shadows, then highlighted back with Worn Navy and Soft Blue. Pure Black coats get a highlight of 1:1 Walnut Brown:Pure Black. Leather White gets a Pure White highlight. The white stripes on hats and kerchiefs is actually a 1:1 Leather White:Pure White mix.

I’m probably going to go back into my entire batch of Red Sailors and do another round of highlighting on the blue clothing, it’s a bit bland currently. More Soft Blue, maybe with one further brighter highlight.

Hope this helps, I’ll add better photos as I take them!

4 thoughts on “How I Paint Russians”

    1. Good to know, thanks József!

      I’ll have to ping our local gaming stores to see if any of them carry the Army Painter line.

      — Brian

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