When gaming World War II, my first love has always been the European Theatre from D-Day until the end of the war.
However, since the release of What A Tanker! from Too Far Lardies I have become more intrigued by the war in North Africa. There are some interesting battles to be fought in this theatre across the space of four years, and I expect that I will be adding a collection of Desert War miniatures to my forces in the foreseeable future.
As part of that project, I will need a painting guide for the Western Desert. Whilst it is not beyond the wit of man to figure out these colours from scratch, why reinvent the wheel if someone has already done the work?
WWII In The Desert is a book written by Andy Singleton and published by Pen & Sword as part of their Painting Wargames Figures series of books.
The book is divided into two parts:
- The Basics.
- The Painting Guides.
In addition to this there is an appendix which gives a list of figure manufacturers in 15mm, 20mm & 28mm.
In Part I of the book, Andy discusses the various tools and techniques which are required for assembling and painting plastic and metal models, and then goes on to discuss how metal and plastic figures are cleaned up and assembled prior to painting.
Part II of the book is much more extensive, and discusses in detail how to paint the various protagonists involved in the War in the Desert. These include
- British and Commonwealth Army
- Italian Army
- United States Army
- German Army
- Camouflage Uniforms (Fallschirmjager)
For each army, there is a (very) brief introduction to their role in the war, plus some notes on their uniform and kit. Each painting guide is then broken down into three different levels of finish.
- Conscript – This is a very basic level of painting, allowing for simple base colours and a final drybrushed highlight.
- Regular – A slightly more complex painting level, with base colours, a single drybrushed highlight and then a wash.
- Elite – The most complex level of painting covered. Allows for base colours plus two levels of highlighting, followed by a wash and then a final level of highlighting.
Most of the painting techniques are broadly similar but subtly different. The British guide uses an Army Painter coloured primer, whilst the Italian and US guides use a white or grey primer. In addition, the US painting guide uses several layers of wash in order to apply the base coat of the uniform, rather than a single paint. The German painting guide is slightly different, as in this case a black undercoat is used, thus providing a different example of how to shade the miniature.
Throughout the book Andy uses Vallejo and Army Painter paints – the guides detail colours from these ranges, so you may need to use a colour conversion chart is using paints from other manufacturers.
I was once told by a full-time figure painter that he could not teach me how to paint miniatures. Rather he could only teach me how he painted miniatures. This is indeed the case with this book. Andy Singleton is also a full time figure painter, so this book gives his approach to the subject. To be fair his approach may only start to differ to others once you start looking at the ‘Elite’ level of painting, so as a general guide this is a very decent effort indeed.
The guide is aimed at painters of any level of experience, so this is a book that is equally valuable to a complete novice or someone who has been painting models for several years.
One thing worthy of note is that, despite featuring several photographs of vehicles, this book concentrates it’s efforts on how to paint infantry. If you want a more detailed book on painting vehicles and artillery for this conflict, you will need to search elsewhere.
In summary, Andy has provided a very good painting guide for gamers and painters wanting to get involved with the Desert War. Indeed, for many, this book might be the only book they need on the subject of painting uniforms for this theatre. It’s quick to read, easy to follow and should give you good results.
Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII In The Desert, by Andy Singleton
Published by Pen & Sword Military
More details can be found here
A review copy of this publication was provided by Pen & Sword for the purpose of this review.