WWII German Waffen SS Painting Guide

Bryan’s step by step painting guide

One of my army projects this year has been a platoon of German Waffen SS for Second World War gaming. These troops may have been rather unsavory characters but they make great subjects for painting minis with their distinctive camouflage and featured in most major battles, so are a useful force to have in your collection for gaming. In this step by step painting guide I will be covering how to paint these troops in their autumn/winter uniform and gear. I’ve chosen to use the Warlord Games range of metal 28mm miniatures for my army, these minis are fantastic sculpts and are full of character. You can also use this painting guide for German army (Heer) troops, just be aware the camouflage scheme will be different and I plan on covering this in a future guide.

Step 1 - Coloured shaded primer

I have begun by undercoating my squad with a black primer spray. Once dry I have oversprayed this with one of the main colours of the uniform, ‘Field Grey’. Using a sweeping motion and holding the can at a slightly raised angle to the model it creates a bit of shading with the black underneath. Spraying the grey saves time and lays down a good neutral base to paint the other colours over rather than black, which can be harsh. My techniques are all designed for painting armies, so I work on a unit at a time, 5-10 models being the ideal amount to batch paint.

Primer: Chaos Black spray (Citadel)

Coloured spray: German Field Grey (Plastic Soldier Company)

Step 2 - Base colours

This stage and the next are very straight forward. Use a brush with a decent point to apply the base colours as neatly as possible to avoid spending a lot of time with cleaning up. I paint the base colours in the following order so any mistakes are covered over as I paint on the subsequent colours. It’s always a good idea to slightly thin your paints with water to get a smooth coverage.

Skin: Cadian Fleshtone (Citadel)

Camouflage pants, helmet covers and smocks: German Camo Pale Brown (Vallejo)

Gaiters, gunslings and ammo pouches: Steel Legion Drab (Citadel)

Gas mask canister, gloves and mess tins: Brown Violet (Vallejo)

Panzerfausts and some mess tins: Middlestone (Vallejo)

Boots, gunstocks, water bottles and ammo pouch straps: Rhinox Hide (Citadel)

Fur on hats and hoods: Iraqi Sand (Vallejo)

Step 3 - Base colours (cont’d)

Continuing on from the previous batch of base colours I now apply these colours in order.

Gunmetal: Leadbelcher (Citadel)

Leather webbing belts and straps: Matte Black (Army Painter)

Woolen socks: Black Green (Vallejo)

Bases (to your own scheme/tastes): German Grey (Vallejo)

Step 4 - Washes

Now it’s time to start creating some depth using washes. Be sure to mix in a little flow medium instead of water (in this case Lahmian Medium by Citadel) for the best results. The flow medium encourages the washes to flow into the recesses without weakening the pigment too much. I used about 20/80 flow medium to wash ratio.

Field Grey uniform, metal, boots, gunstocks, water bottles, woolen socks: Dark tone (Army Painter) or Nuln Oil (Citadel)

Camouflage pants, helmet covers and smocks, Gaiters, gun slings, ammo pouches, gas mask canister, gloves, mess tins, panzerfausts, fur on hats and hoods: Agrax Earthshade (Citadel)

Step 5 - Highlights

Using a fine detail brush (I use a size 00) it’s time to apply some strong but carefully targeted highlights to the raised edges of the mini. It’s worth taking your time on these and the highlights will apply smoother if you make sure to keep your paint nice and thinned down with a little water. Dry or thick paint on a small brush will cause it to drag and create rough highlights, not ideal. Each part of the model gets either one or two layers of highlights as follows, refer to the images above and below as examples of were I chose to apply my highlights to different areas of the models;

Skin: Kislev Flesh (Citadel), followed by Flayed One Flesh (Citadel)

Field Grey uniform: German Fieldgrey WWII (Vallejo), followed by Green Grey (Vallejo)
Camouflage pants, helmet covers and smocks:
German Camo Pale Brown (Vallejo)

Gaiters, gunslings and ammo pouches: Steel Legion Drab (Citadel), followed by Khaki (Vallejo)

Gas mask canister, gloves and mess tins: Russian Uniform (Vallejo), followed by Yellow Green (Vallejo)

Panzerfausts and some mess tins: Middlestone (Vallejo), Followed by Iraqi Sand (Vallejo)

Boots: Rhinox Hide (Citadel), followed by a 70/20 mix of Rhinox Hide + Iraqi Sand (Vallejo)

Gunstocks and water bottles: Doombull Brown (Citadel), followed by Tuskgor Fur (Citadel)

Fur on hats and hoods: Iraqi Sand (Vallejo), Pale Sand (Vallejo)

Gunmetal: Leadbelcher (Citadel)

Woolen socks: German Uniform (Vallejo)

Step 6 - Glazes

You will notice that the highlights on the Field Grey uniform and flesh are rather stark, this was deliberate as this next little step, the glaze, will blend this back and add some richness to the areas with a tint at the same time. The German uniform colour was very unique, so this step really helps capture that slightly blue-grey hue.

Like the wash stage, simply mix these washes with a little flow medium and paint straight over the area of the miniature indicated. Because the highlights beneath were so bold these won’t be lost when the glaze is added.

Skin: Riekland Fleshshade (Citadel)

Field Grey uniform: Storm Cloud wash (Secret Weapon Miniatures)

Panzerfausts: Seraphim Sepia (Citadel)

Step 7 - Camouflage

The Waffen SS issued it’s troops with camouflage clothing to suit the season, in this winter example I will now cover the Autumn Oak Leaf (Eichenlaubmuster) pattern. This stage requires a little practice and patience, using a fine detail brush to paint the scheme on in stages. Breaking the complex pattern down into simple steps really helps, follow the image above as your visual reference guide for your first few minis and once you have the hang of it, go nuts and have fun!

Light brown base: German Camo Pale Brown (Vallejo)

Orange patches and dots: Orange Brown (Vallejo)

Dark brown patches and dots: Rhinox Hide (Citadel)

Step one: This is already complete. Basecoat of German Camo Pale Brown, washed with Agrax Earthshade and highlighted again with the base colour.

Step two: Apply the Orange patches. These should be fairly spaced out to allow for the brown patches to come later and still leave some of the pale brown base colour showing. The patches look best done in very random and rounded ‘amoeba’ type shapes. I tend to begin my shapes coming from the ‘edge’ of the clothing and work in.

Step three: Apply the dark brown patches. Again, these should allow for some of the pale brown base colour to be showing. The patches look best done in very random and rounded ‘amoeba’ type shapes.It looks best having the dark brown patches up against the orange ones, not floating independently.

Step four: Apply the dark brown dots. Using a fine detail brush and slightly watered down paint, apply dots in a single touch of the brush to the insides of the orange patches and here and there in the pale brown areas as well.

Step five: Apply the orange dots. Using a fine detail brush and slightly watered down paint, apply dots in a single touch of the brush to the insides of the dark brown patches.

Step six: Selective highlights. With the camouflage pattern complete, the result is striking but lacks depth as most of the shading is now covered up. As an optional step, I apply very select highlights to the most raised areas on the piece of clothing. I used a 70/30 mix of Vallejo Buff and German Camo Pale Brown to do this, refer to the image above and below to see just how selective I was in applying this as it does actually go over the top of the camo pattern.

Step 8 - Finishing touches

With the camouflage complete that is the hardest part over. Time to complete your minis by painting the eyes, insignia and finishing off the bases. For the eyes I use a sized 00 brush and paint a tiny horizontal white line, followed by a black dot.

The German uniform features some distinctive insignia, which I paint at this stage. The eagles in shoulders and cap fronts are painted Stone Grey (Vallejo) and then highlighted white. The edge of the shoulder straps are painted with troops branch colour (Waffenfarbe), typically it would be green for Panzergrenadiers or white for grenadiers, but my troops are actually going to be from the 8th SS Cavalry Division and so have a yellow branch colour instead. The collar tabs are painted black, with tiny white lines added to give the impression of the insignia.

To finish the models off, give them a coat of matt varnish. I used a spray of Testors Dullcote, or on humid days I use a brush on varnish (AK interactive ultra matte). After the varnish is dry I used PVA glue to add winter grass tufts from Gamers Grass, snow using Citadel Valhallan Blizzard and finally some fallen leaves made from birch tree seeds.

And there you have it, a comprehensive guide for painting Waffen SS in winter gear. Below are a few of my other squads from the platoon as examples to check out.

As always, if you have any questions please ask away in the comments below and I will be happy to help you out.