Painting Guide: French 1940 6mm infantry & vehicles

A short instructable for 6mm-gamers: how I painted a French 1940 army

As I blogged earlier, for me as 6mm Napoleonics player 6mm-WW2 was long a no-go area – too dark, too similar, all grey, green or khaki. Until I decided to change painting style, paint with sharp contrasts and large decals and make scenic bases. Action movie bases.
I will not repeat that instructable again, but continue where I finished and publish a short instructable about the 1940 French army. I made scenic bases for a friend who likes the Sam Mustafa ‘Rommel’ system

The French infantry uniform

Some painting guides advise to paint the French in khaki brown, others in khaki green. The best guide is probably Michael Farnworth’s, who always thoroughly checks his sources. He writes:

 As I prepared the guide, I consulted several uniform books. All of the uniform books show helmet, uniform and luggage in matching khaki green. However, members of TMP (The Miniatures Page) point out that the uniforms faded to brownish khaki. Similarly, blankets vary from khaki green to khaki brown. 

An old faded-to-brown colour propaganda picture in the German army magazine Signal shows a brownish uniform.

For 6mm I don’t believe in ‘correct’ colours anymore. My 6mm armies are lighter painted than the original colour (6mm in figures in true historical colours always look black on a tabletop) and players should be able to see clear differences, even from a distance, even in a dim lit room, even between WW2-armies in earth tones. So, because I have in fact a choice I decided to paint my French khaki green. I think that the picture above has faded too much and I think the right colour is indeed green. See pic.
The most important reason, however, is not that this is probably the true colour. The most important reason is that the German army is predominantly grey and the British predominantly brown. If you want a 6mm army in a non-English colour, use green. Besides, the brown and beige gear will contrast more with the uniform.

Vehicles

The true colour of vehicles is unknown. A short guide can be found here. Main (pre-war) colour was – again – khaki green/olive drab but 

 the actual camouflage patterns were manufacturer-specific or left to the unit’s imagination if they were already in service or requisitioned civilian vehicles (…) Actual hues are not known with any degree of precision since no official document describing them in detail has yet been unearthed. There are very few wartime colour pictures of French vehicles and those that exist are rather poor.

So? So you’re free to use any combination of vert olive mat (in a lighter shade than the pre-war version), brun (brown, sometimes a very reddish hue), ochre jaune (very light brown, ranging from sand to mustard brown) and vert (a rather light green). Two pics, a faded-to-red-brown-propaganda picture and a pic from a website tutorial.

Application of French roundels or flags is also left to your own imagination, the practice was not officially regulated and an individual choice of the tank commander. I haven’t found 6mm roundels so far.
So this is how I paint them.

I spraypainted the (Adler) miniatures, as you see, green, with an acrylic spray paint from a Dutch artist paint brand. The exact colour would be olive, similar to Vallejo 70.850, OLIVA MEDIO. A quick black wash, brown backpack, brown shoes with beige gaiters and a beige pouch gives the green with brown/beige webbing/gear effect that should be the dominant french uniform colours from a distance  – and thus the ‘right’ colour mix for a 6mm army.
The helmet is medium green (Army Painter greenskin, Waagh Flesh in the GW catalog with a grey dot on top as highlight. From nearby the effect is very frog green.
The vehicles (Heroics & Ros) were spraypainted medium brown, highlighted bone yellow, and finished with irregular patches of green and red brown.

I painted all bases reddish light brown (GW Ratskin Flesh). In my system for 6mm, all armies have a different base colour (Germans grey, US yellow-green, UK brown), and reddish brown gives a good contrast with green.

Final result

Above how the bases look from nearby. Below how they look from a distance:

More will follow. I hope to create scenic French bases that are clearly NOT German bases, even from a meter distance. Allons enfant de la patrie, die in difference!

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