Painting Italian Infantry (The Konflikt ‘47 Way)

As you may or may not have seen, Warlord Games has released a preview of the two new Heavy Armored Infantry sets available soon to Konflikt ’47 Italian players (er, that is, to players who field Italian miniatures–though, I suppose also to Konflikt ’47 players of Italian descent). They are wicked cool-looking. As Italy was historically embroiled in a civil war of its own following the deposing of Mussolini’s empire from within and the signing of the armistice with the allies in 1943, so to is Italy still fighting that civil war in 1947 (according to the background on the new book campaign book forthcoming from the Konflikt ’47 team, Defiance, available for preorder on the Warlord Games website May 25, 2018).  Just look at these bad boys:

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I may have already bought two blisters…

With the release of a new Italian force incoming (and some rumored Italian goodies coming around the Fall of this year in lieu of the spiffy new North Africa Bolt Action book also supposedly forthcoming), it really got me thinking about new approaches to the Italian infantry uniform.

After all, this is 1947.  No one says that we can’t take a little creative licensing when planning our armies.

Note: Want some real ‘weird WW2’ Italian infantry? Check out my conversion tutorial here.

I already have a sizable Italian army for Bolt Action and so far I have stuck to the traditional colors of the North African Theater. Lots of tans, browns, sandy colors, and so on. For example…

 

I will likely be fielding most of these for Konflikt ’47 as well. These are your typical (mostly) historically-accurate uniforms for Italians in the Mediterranean and North African theater.  At least according to the interpretations I have seen of them.

But these are pretty early-to-mid war. Once you start seeing Italians in Tunisia and Italy and in other parts of Europe, the battle dress uniform changes, and depending on lots or region, the uniform seems to vary in color hue and style. In other words, these desert uniforms look great and I think they are one of my favorite uniforms overall for the entirety of the war (especially to paint; bloody easy to do), but for the war in 1947, it might not really be suitable.

A fresh look is what I was after; a new standard for this period that is suitable for most regions we might see Italians fighting (particularly in Italy, Greece, and the Balkans). And it would be nice if I could also field these units well for either Axis or Allied Italians. So a Googling I did go for inspiration. Here are some images I came across:

 

The theme I decided to go with was the mixture of tropical and green-grey battle dress uniforms. This color-combination would work well for most of the Mediterranean; but it would not be Konflikt ’47ish enough without some slight twist. During the same search, I stumbled upon this colorized image of a San Marco marine…

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Now I know what you’re thinking; the San Marco marines were part of the Italian Navy and so… what am I thinking? Well, I am thinking I really like the color.  And since I am going for weird war, does it really matter? Honestly? Well, it didn’t to me.

It stood out as something just weird enough to be unique on the table, the colors would pop from a distance, and it has some blend of historical fact that I might be able to get away with it. Maybe.  Probably not.

Note: I am aiming for table-top quality painting here; but you could apply the same steps below in a more careful and considered fashion for some top notch miniatures.

I started off with a box set of Italian Infantry from Warlord Games. The great thing about this box set is that it comes with a lot of different head options. You can go for your standard M33-helmeted infantry, or field caps, or tropical helmets, or Bersaglieri helmets (tropical or M33 variants).  I opted for Bersaglieri heads (M33 style), because d’uh…. Have you seen how awesome are the Bersaglieri?

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These Bersaglieri don’t have time for your nonsense. Time for petting what one can only reasonably assume was a wild wolf-pup that they tamed with their badassery?  Yes. But for your nonsense, nope; no time was had.

With a coat of Uniform Grey spray primer from Army Painter applied, I was finally able to start painting my Bersaglieri. I began with an equal parts mixture of VMC German Uniform, Dark Prussian Blue, and VGC Sombre Grey. This was my base color.

I applied a thin coat of this, which covered over the Uniform Grey well. The German Uniform gave it a green appearance, while the Oxford Blue and Sombre Grey knocked it back a bit. I decided at this stage to start applying more and more Sombre Grey in thinned layers to brighten the color up. If you wanted to have a mintier-color rather than a blue-grey color, you can substitute the Sombre Grey for something like VMC Intermediate Blue and add a little bit of VMC Light Green Blue for extreme highlights (something I may experiment with on future models).

From straight Sombre Grey, I added VMC Dark Blue Grey bit by bit until I was just using Dark Blue Grey on the brightest highlights. You can take these highlights one step further by adding a dot of VGC Wolf Grey to the mix, but don’t get carried away applying it; keep to the sharpest points of clothing or the highest folds. It is real easy to overdo this and it will overpower the rest of the uniform. Full disclosure, I decided to skip the extra highlights on mine.

For the tropical uniform bits, I went with straight VMC Desert Yellow and highlighted this up by adding a bit of Iraqui Sand and Buff. I only did a few highlights here as I didn’t want to turn the Desert Yellow into beige, though you could do this for a more faded, worn, and bleached appearance. It isn’t strange for a sandy-yellow color to turn into pink in the hot desert sun.

Here is my squad after these steps:

 

The next steps involve some steady hands (and touch-up paint). The details on these Italian miniatures are top notch, and very crisp to be truthful. But that also makes them a bit fiddly to paint because there are a lot of folds and creases and edges that the paint brush loves to catch on accident.

For all of the leather equipment, including straps, belts, and ammo pouches, I went with VMC German Grey. It is slightly lighter than black and if you go over everything carefully with Army Painter Dark Tone Ink, the really makes them stand out with no additional shading required. Though you could always go back over the edges with some German Grey to highlight. I didn’t feel a need as the dark leather contrasted well against the brighter bluer uniform colors.

Note: You will also want to use German Grey to paint the capercaillie feathers on the helmets if you chose the Bersaglieri heads for your squad. 

For the wrappings around the lower legs, I also painted these with German Grey, washed over them with some Dark Tone Ink, and where light hit them, I added VGC Cold Grey to the German Grey for highlights, taking care to catch the flat parts of the wraps and not the creases between them.

Not a whole lot to see yet, but we’re getting there:

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For the straps of the backpack, I also painted them in German Grey initially, but I went back over these straps with VMC Buff.  But you can use VMC Canvas or VMC Khaki for these as well–there are subtle variations in the tones of each of these colors–so it is completely up to your choice of aesthetic.

I also used Buff to paint the backpack as well, and then went with VMC Yellow Green to paint the base of the camouflaged tarp that is tied fast over the backpack. For shading on this, apply a thinned down Army Painter Military Shader Ink to it. Then carefully go back over the straps in Buff. And finally for the blanket roll slung under the backpack, I went with VGC Cold Grey. Thinned down Dark Tone Ink will shade this up nicely without the need for extra work.

For the flesh tones, I used my standard Panzer Aces skin tone triad. However as these are table-top quality and not for competition, I decided to use a 50/50 mix of the medium and highlight tones.

Progress to this point:

 

Slowly but surely the paint scheme is solidifying.

At this stage, all that is left is the remaining details. And for those I will briefly list what I did below; these are the most arbitrary steps of this tutorial, so feel free to substitute out my steps below with whatever you normally do.

  1. Shading the skin: I used a wash of about 50/50 Vallejo Flesh Wash and Sepia Wash. I let this dry thoroughly and went back over the facial highlights with the same mixture I used to paint the skin initially.
  2. Shoes: I gave them a heavy wash of Dark Tone Ink.
  3. Camouflage pattern on the tarp on the back: Using VMC German Camo Black Brown, with a little VMC Leather Brown mixed in to lighten it, I painted amoeba-like splotches in an irregular pattern across the tarps. I then went back in with VMC Flat Yellow and painted the yellow splotches adjacent to the brown ones.
  4. Rifles and SMGS: For the wooden parts of the guns, I used Panzer Aces New Wood. For the metallic bits, I used a 50/50 mix of VMC Gunmetal Grey and VMA Steel. A wash over the whole gun with Strong Tone Ink finished them off.
  5. Feathers on the Bersaglieri helmets: Dark tone ink and then on the very highest highlights, I drybrushed on some German Uniform (the feathers are a very dark green in real life).
  6. Weather and damage on the helmet: I dipped a piece of packing foam I got from a blister back into some VMC German Grey and lightly dabbed it in an irregular motion across the helmet where I thought one would see paint chipping.

Finally, just seal your miniature in whatever varnish you use, base them up to match your army theme, and you’re done! Here is how mine turned out.

 

I hope you all enjoyed this tutorial! Please like, share and subscribe if you did to continue getting more Bolt Action and Konflikt ’47 content! Oh, and give this video a watch (and watch until the end).

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