Quick Painting 15mm British infantry for Africa Theatre WW2

I came across my Flames of War 1/100th scaled Brits the other day, and one thing lead to another… and now it seems I’ve ordered a bunch more stuff for Brits in Africa! The plan for these desert infantrymen though, will be that they are meant for the Battlegroup rules, not Flames of War. So it’s time to start painting 15mm British infantry again!

TL;DR – jump down to the summary recipe for painting 15mm British.

This article should cover my quick painting recipe for these African based Brits. With the Battlegroup book ‘Tobruk’, they’ll technically be for based for the Libyan theatre of war, circa 1941.

I know Flames of War have several books about the Northern Africa conflict, so hopefully this article will be of interest to some FoW readers too.

The gorgeous miniatures are from Forged in Battle (Buy from FLGS Firestorm Games). I’ve never bought FiB minis before, but the all-metal British riflemen look good to me!

Battlegroup Tobruk book by Plastic Soldier Company
New Libyan theatre!

15mm miniatures and magnetic storage

I wanted to protect these guys a little bit, so I’m attempting to do the whole magnetic-storage box thing. This meant supergluing the 15mm Brits to 1p coins (a few pairs were on 2ps too). Once the miniatures are all painted up, I’ll buy/construct a box with a magnetic base, to keep the infantrymen all upright. Duncan Rhodes explains the method in this YouTube video.

If I end up with a working, useful storage solution I’ll link to a post about it here.

Painting 15mm British troops - all glued to their new cheap bases

In total there’s ~40 minis in this Rifle Platoon box from FiB; 3 Bren guns and loaders, a mortar, a few NCOs and officer, then bucket loads of rifleman. Above is a rushed picture of them all before they’ve been primed!

Update Oct 2021; turns out British coppers pre-1992 weren’t magnetic. Check your coins before gluing miniatures to them! I had to re-base a few miniatures because of this issue. I’ve also added an even-quicker alternative painting recipe at the bottom.

Research for miniature bases; Libya, Africa

I wanted to put a bit more effort into the bases of these guys. At 15mm scale, the miniatures are actually dwarfed by their bases, especially as I’ve gone for metal coins. If I were doing 3 or 4 infantrymen to base, like with Flames of War, each base could be a mini diorama.

So before I decided on how my bases were going to look, I jumped on Pinterest and Google Images to research images of the Libyan desert suitable for my 15mm Brits. Four of my favourite images I found online are shown below:

I really like the exposed flat grey rocks breaking through the sand; so decided to use this sparingly on my desert Brits!

Quick painting 15mm British Infantry…

All glued down and ready for a grey undercoat using a Halfords primer. Easiest way I’ve found is to attach some duck-tape upside down on some spare wood, then plonk them down on top.

Row of grey primed British WW2 riflemen

Start off the actual painting by painting the skin Citadel Kislev Flesh:

Painting 15mm British infantry begins with the skin

Next up, paint the uniform with Vallejo Dark Sand:

Brits in Africa - painted uniforms

Hindsight: At this stage in future paints, I would paint the base around the feet with Dark Sand too, while you have it out. This’ll help hide any gaps when putting the AK Sandy Desert basing compound on later. The rim can also be painted with Dark Sand.

Paint the socks with Vallejo Russian Uniform Green:

Paint those socks!
(Hard to see those painted socks in that lighting, sorry)

Hindsight: It’s also worth painting the gun straps with this green while you have it out.

Next up, paint the webbing, belts, chin-strap and pouches with Vallejo Stone Grey:

15mm Brits Flames of War Painting Webbing
(Stone Grey may be too close in tone to the Dark Sand)

The boots and metallic parts of the guns were painted with Contrast Black Templar. The wood on the guns, as well as the knife sheaths on the reverse, were painted with German Camouflage Medium Brown:

(You may want to use a brighter wood for the guns)

Now, paint the uniform and skin with citadel Agrax Earthshade, mixed 50:50 with water. I used it neat and think it’s too dark at the 15mm scale.

Give this a long time to dry; then put another layer of the original colours back over the webbing and uniform, to act as a highlight, avoiding the recesses.

Basing the desert miniature…

Once that was all done, the bases were covered using AK’s Sandy Desert diorama paste and sprinkled with a very small amount of fine sand. Based on my research of the Libyan desert, I decided to press a few small rocks individually into the mixture too.

Brits in Libya - getting painted
(These minis hadn’t been highlighted at this point)

Once the base had dried, the rocks were painted with some Citadel Administratum Grey.

Get those African rocks painted
(The rocks make the bases 100% more interesting)

Once dried, the rocks were highlighted with a 75:25 mixture of Administratum Grey and Vallejo Stone Grey. Afterwards, they were lightly dry-brushed with Vallejo Dark Sand.

The base rim was painted Dark Sand.

A few different grass tufts were then applied and the miniatures were complete!

Summary: Painting 15mm British Infantry

So in summary, the quick painting recipe steps w/o pictures:

Update Oct 2021; steps in the painting recipe ending with a red asterisk (*) have an alternative ‘version 2’ paint combo. These alternative steps are in the section following the paint recipe.

  • Prime the miniatures with Halfords Grey primer,
  • Paint the skin Citadel Kislev Flesh,
  • The uniform, base around the feet and the rim can be painted Vallejo 70.847 Dark Sand*,
  • Paint the socks and gun straps Vallejo 70.924 Russian Uniform Green,
  • The webbing and chin-strap can be painted Vallejo 70.884 Stone Grey*,
  • Paint the boots / gun metal with Citadel Contrast Black Templar,
  • The wooden parts of the guns were painted with 70.826 German Camo’ Med’ Brown*,
  • Wash the uniform and webbing with Agrax Earthshade, watered down 50:50,
  • Add the original colours back to the uniform and webbing as a highlight,
  • Apply AK Sandy Desert diorama compound to the base. Press in small rocks etc,
  • Paint the rocks Citadel Administratum Grey,
  • Highlight the rocks with a 75:25 mix of Admin’ Grey and Dark Sand,
  • Glue on some grass tufts,

Voila, my first trio of Brits all painted and ready to tackle the harsh desert environment (and some Germans or Italians)

Completed painting 15mm British infantrymen in Africa
There we have it. My first 3 Brits ready for combat in Libya, Africa

Update Oct 2021: Quick Painting 15mm Brits

Below is an alternative / quick tweak to the recipe. This mainly minimises washing the whole miniature, which adds a long period of drying time in the middle of painting.

Uniform is now based 70.880 Khaki Grey, then highlighted with 70.847 Dark Sand. No wash is applied.

Webbing is also based 70.880 Khaki Grey but highlighted with 70.884 Stone Grey. No wash is applied.

Skin is now Citadel Cadian Fleshtone as a base. Followed by a Cadian Fleshtone / Kislev Flesh 50:50 mix over the top as a highlight. No wash is applied.

Wood is now based with Vallejo 70.984 (Flat Brown). Followed by a Flat Brown / 70.884 Stone Grey 75:25 mix over the top as a highlight. Watered down Agrax is still applied once dried.

Alternative painting 15mm British recipe

The picture below shows 3 miniatures painted in both of the quick painting recipes. As you can see they’re pretty identical. You can also see the lack of definition in the face and gun details on some of these Forged In Battle miniatures.

This painting recipe was done for 15mm individually based miniatures, however I can’t see why you couldn’t use this exact painting recipe for Flames of War based infantry.