WWII Soviet Painting Guides

Articles In This Series
Part 1: Series Introduction, Plus Ranks & Insignia
Part 2: Summer Tunics & Trousers
Part 3: Basing Tips & Tricks
Part 4: Winter Uniforms
Part 5: Painting Guides

Series Overview
This page began as the fifth in an ongoing series of articles documenting the research I have been doing for painting my 28mm Black Tree Design miniatures for 1:1 skirmish gaming. While I painted 28mm miniatures, nearly all this information is useful for all miniature sizes.

One Size Does Not Fit All
Soviets with a lend-lease jeep with a Browning .50 cal.
While doing the research for painting my Soviets, I came to realize that there was no one correct color of Soviet uniform because of the country's poor quality controls and need for many uniforms quickly. Plus, uniforms quickly faded and changed color once they hit the battlefields. For example, tunics and trousers could range from dark green to light cream, with even some tans and browns tossed in. Equipment also came is many different colors, styles, and materials. It can be quite confusing, as well as very liberating because we needn't worry so much about accuracy as we would when modeling the Western Front.

Since I use 28mm miniatures for 1:1 skirmish games that border on roleplaying games, I wanted my soldiers to have as much individual character as possible and reflect the hard city fighting of Stalingrad and its surroundings. The video game Call of Duty 2 heavily influenced my decision to game Stalingrad.

Some Unity is Important
While I painted the uniforms to reflect the chaotic mishmash look of city fighting, I also wanted them to look like a unified fighting force on the table. Being a modeler all my life, I like to say that we don't model reality but people's idea of what reality is supposed to be. For example, I could have painted the steel helmets and ushanka winter hats all sorts of different colors and shades, which would have been quite realistic for my setting, but I used the hats and helmets to unify the soldiers. This is why I painted all the steel helmets the same shade of green. Same for the ushanka, though I did give a cigar-chomping NCO a grey hat to signify his "special" status.

I begin this post with my own guide I created to paint my figures. I also give you some additional painting guides that you might find useful and more to your liking. Finally, you can also check out the nice WWII painting and camo guides over at Artizan's website.

CPBelt's Soviet Infantry Painting Guide
Here is the comprehensive painting guide I created to paint my infantry so far. It collects the bits from earlier articles and includes a lot of new info. I used Reaper paints because I can get them locally. While I have had some problems with some colors of Reaper paint being too thin or cracking while drying (the Olive triad and Uniform Brown all cracked, along with some others), I really like their Terran Khaki triad. As I paint my remaining figures--such as tankers, snipers, officers, NKVD, sailors, and so on--I'll add that info to this guide.

M35 & M43 Summer Tunics, Trousers, & Pilotka
Unless a soldier was a fresh to the fighting, I often painted the tunic one base color and the trouser a different base color. Often Soviet infantry would take better bits and pieces of uniforms when theirs would wear out. For example, a hardened soldier might have light trousers but a new darker jacket.

Fresh Troops
Highlight: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki
Base: Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow
Shade: Folk Art FA449 Olive Green

Veteran Troops
Highlight: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki or Vallejo 988 Khaki
Shade: Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow

Hardened Troops
Highlight: Reaper 9123 + White
Base: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Shade: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki

Poor Quality Conrol Variation
Highlight: Reaper 9127 Uniform Brown + Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9127 Uniform Brown
Shade: Americana DA180 Asphaltum

M41 & M43 Winter Uniform
These colors work for both the jacket and trousers.
Highlight: Base + Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9162 Driftwood Brown
Shadow (and padding creases): Dark Brown.

Steel Helmet:
Highlight: Base + White
Base: Folk Art FA927 Old Ivy + Folk Art FA449 Olive Green
Shade: Americana DA157 Black Green
Chin Straps: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki

Ushanka (Fur Hat)
For painting the standard infantry ushanka, you will need the colors below and then follow how I painted the hats. First, I painted the entire ushanka Reaper 9158 Olive Drab and then drybrushed the fur flaps with Reaper 9122 Terrain Khaki and then very lightly drybrushed some Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight. I then painted the cloth part of the hat using Reaper 9121 Reaper Khaki Shadow, highlighting the edges with Reaper 9122 Terrain Khaki. Finally, I lined the edges of the fur flaps using Reaper 9158 Olive Drab. The last touch is to paint the Soviet stars, touching them up with some black and then simply painting them a shade of bright red, leaving some black along the edge for shading.
Drybrushed: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Drybrushed: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki or Vallejo 988 Khaki
Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow
Reaper 9158 Olive Drab

I painted all my blankets using summer tunic colors above. You could also paint them shades of green-grey, maybe a brown, and so on. Again, nothing was standard.

Canvas Gear
This includes cloth grenade satchels, ammo pouches, shovel covers, straps, canteens, backpacks, belts, and anything else made of cloth or cloth webbing. Since there were no real standards, with this equipment coming in all sorts of shades, you can vary the base color as you like, using various khakis and light olive greens. Flap straps could be cloth or leather. I painted buckles a tin color.
Highlight: Reaper 9123 Khaki Highlight
Base: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki
Shade: Folk Art FA449 Olive Green

Leather Gear
This includes leather belts, straps, and ammo pouches. You really have a wide selection of leather colors to choose from, from reddish leather to brown leather to tan leather. It seems that NCO's and better soldiers got higher quality black leather ammo pouches. From what I can see, belts were never black leather. Below are the three leather variations I used on my figures.
Base v1: Vallejo 940 Saddle Brown
Base v2: Reaper 9030 Leather Brown
Base v3: Reaper 9031 Tanned Leather

Any black will do.

M43 Shoulder Boards (Summer & Winter Uniforms)
The M43 saw shoulder boards come into fashion, both for summer and winter uniform. The board itself is darker than the uniform and trimmed in a color specific for that branch of service. Infantry shoulder boards, for example, has raspberry colored piping trimming the edges. The button on top of the board is brass.
Shoulder Board Base: Reaper 9121 Khaki Shadow
Shoulder Board Trim: Americana DA276 Razzle Berry

Since Soviets practiced assault tactics, they loved their grenades. Again, these could come in many different shades like the uniforms, but I chose to paint them all the same color.
Base: Reaper 9122 Terran Khaki

Panzer Aces Paint Guide
If I remember correctly, this is a guide I took from one of the Panzer Aces series. It uses all Vallejo paints. Some folks might find it useful.

Summer Tunic, Trousers, & Pilotka
Highlight: Base + 914 Green Ocher + 976 Buff
Base: 879 Green Brown + 882 Middlestone
Shade: Base + 872 Chocolate Brown + 950 Black

Winter Padded Jacket & Trousers
Highlight: Base + 976 Buff
Base: 897 Bronze Green with 913 Yellow Ocher
Shade: Base + 872 Chocolate Brown + 950 Black

Cloth Coat
Highlight: Base + 991 Dark Sea Grey
Base: 866 Grey Green + 872 Chocolate Brown
Shade: Base + 950 Black

Steel Helmet
Highlight: Base with 882 Middlestone
Base: 897 Bronze Green
Shade (washed):  950 Black

Highlight: Base with 986 Deck Tan
Base: 886 Green Grey
Shade (washed): 950 Black

Leather Equipment
Highlight: Base + 981 Orange Brown
Base: 984 Flat Brown + 940 Saddle Brown (varnished gloss)
Shade: Base + 950 Black

Canvas Equipment
Highlight: Base + 976 Buff + 951 White
Base: 917 Beige with 881 Yellow Green
Shade: 872 Chocolate Brown

Highlight: 950 Black + 872 Chocolate Brown
Base: 950 Black (varnished gloss)
Shade: 950 Black

Vallejo Soviet Paint Set
The basic guide below is from Vallejo's Soviet boxed paint set and is for the M43 summer uniform.

894 Russian Green or 823 Luftwaffe Camo Green

Greatcoats & Bedrolls
874 USA Tan Earth

SMG Ammo Pouches
983 Flat Earth

880 Khaki Grey or 988 Khaki

950 Black


  1. Thanks this is a really useful guide. As you say, there as so many variations of uniform that painting greens and browns can hardly go worng. However, such a detailed guide is a very valuable resource.


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