"Zeltbahn German Camp Set" Tutorial April 24, 2019 16:02

With the release of the Zeltbhan Set, I have produced this step by step tutorial on how I achieved the effects that appear in the product pages on this site.

This kit may provide a "Jump Off Point" for Chain of Command or a base camp for Bolt Action scenarios or simply a piece of themed scatter to enhance your table.

Nothing in the hobby is really new, the concept was one that was given to me a few years back (Thanks Brian). The raw idea has been developed through a lot of research and brainstorming. I could imagine the desired outcome; yet needed to work out the "how to".

There are many examples of Zeltbahn from memorabilia sites online and I even found original line drawings with dimensions. I scaled the zeltbahn panel to 1/56. I had considered "heroic" scale yet decided to go "true" as the tents would suit the smaller sculpts like the excellent Perry and Foundry ranges too.

A laser cut MDF frame, filled with polyfilla and when dry, clad with greenstuff achieved the look was after.

When the three green masters were complete, I sent them to Slug Industries to make the mould and cast a small batch. I have to confess to being apprehensive at getting the casts back as I was unsure how much fine detail would be picked up in the mould making process.

Phil (from Slug Industries) skilfully sculpted the campfire as I wanted to produce an overall diorama effect rather than three loose tents.

The older I get, the more important scenery is to me. Many people invest a lot of money and time into getting armies on the table with terrain as an afterthought. I feel that in recent years however the tide has turned and more attention is being given to the look of the table as a whole. The overall immersive gaming experience is enhanced by having a cinematic backdrop for any game.

My first task in preparing the kit was to give it the obligatory soapy wash to remove any mould release agent on the resin. None was apparent, but I believe it is a good habit to get into.

Once spray primed with cheap grey primer bought from a car shop, the details came to the fore. While the rattle can was out, I sprayed the MDF base on both sides. This provides an effective seal against atmospheric moisture and eliminates shrinkage, preventing the thin wood warping. In  10 -15 minutes, I had a flat, stable surface to work on which is easy to mark with a pencil. More on this later.

Onto the painting! Before picking up a brush; I looked online at numerous examples of  zeltbahn fabric from originals to reproduction outfitters. I revisited the splittermuster (splinter pattern) painting guides by Artizan Designs and an excellent guide by James Brown which appears in "The Art of War Wermacht Edition" (published by Battlefront Miniatures 2008). The colours used are as recommended by James although the technique differs slightly, adapting to a larger scale.

Starting with a base coat of German Camouflage Beige, I used German Camo Medium Brown to make the angular pattern. The "green infills" are Luftwaffe Camo Green and seem to always sit alongside brown on 2 or 3 sides. On close inspection there does not seen to be any green islands surrounded by beige. When painting, I replicated some of the shapes, not paying too much attention to accurately match more so to speed up the process and not having to think about the pattern. Besides, the printing of the fabric was originally done on a roller and had a relatively short repeat in design. As each panel progressed, I checked to ensure that the pattern was uniform in size and not getting larger and out of scale.

The neck hole, button hems and centre seam appear in subtle relief in the resin and to enhance this, I changed the pattern direction. I did not want to give the impression that the tent was draped from one piece of fabric.

The next step was my usual "go to," a wash of Games Workshop Agrax Earthshade to bring out the details. Once the wash was dry, I repainted the beige in vertical strokes to enhance the effect of the forthcoming splinters. I used a 0.1mm black fine line pen for the splinters. The splinters appear around the edges of the beige slightly overlapping the brown and green. Leave some beige in random areas splinter-free.

For the fire, I started deep into the model and worked towards myself. I used a bright yellow, then added a white and dabbed inbetween the logs. I repeated the process and added vermillion to the yellow for an orange hue.

The logs were painted charred brown, tipped with black and highlighted with a couple of greys. Each layer of paint being lighter and applied to a progressively smaller area. I was tempted to drybrush but did not want to obscure the inner yellow orange areas. The rocks and ashes were painted in greys, washed with Nuln Oil and then highlighted with a very pale grey. I was after a well used firepit look where the fire had died down over time and has been kept small. Painting ashes to the  difficult bit between the logs and stone surround was a simple solution.

The helmets were painted in German Camo Dark Green and also benefitted from a light wash of GW Nuln Oil. A highlight of the green followed by a final, fine highlight was done by adding a little German Fieldgrey to the base colour.

With the bulk of the painting done I turned my attention to the base. I experimented with positioning the zeltbahn and fire until I was happy with the composition. I then sought small stones and dead twigs from the garden and raided my bits box to enhance the narrative of the scene. Plastic parts from Warlord Games Germans reinforce the story. I pencilled around the resin and logs to ensure I superglued them into the correct place. It is very easy to get carried away at this stage and forget what goes where.

Using cheap thin superglue, I washed the logs to seal the natural material from the atmosphere and provide a good base to paint over. I then used a thin layer of greenstuff to "bed in" the logs, fire and open tent. Any surplus mix was used to make the ground slightly rougher. I used Tamiya Earth Brown all over the base and logs and Bleached Bone at the cut log ends. Washing the logs with watery Charred Earth completed the look.

To complete the set, I used a variety of tufts, flower tufts and clump foliage. I used a static grass applicator with shorter strands to give a trodden down look in the camp centre. I felt that the flower tufts were too "tidy" so I sprayed the whole model with hairspray and carefully sprinkled on some white coloured sand for the dispersed "daisy effect". A final spray of varnish took the shine from the model and the project was almost complete. The finishing touch was to tease out some grey Warlord Games polyester (that came with a tank) and fix in place with a dab of superglue. The smoke gives the camp a lived in look and adds a vertical dimension to balance the tents.


I feel certain whenever I game with this piece, the smoke will drift towards where I am sitting. It always does when I go camping.

Foot note: I painted the tents in splittermuster as it was by far the most common pattern used throughout the war. If painting splinter pattern is too daunting, the good news is that up to 1930, zeltbahn were made from plain field grey to match the uniforms and may be suited to early war tables.

I have also viewed a much rarer plain tan which was used (reportedly) by DAK in North Africa and in 1943, zeltbahn werer produced in Italian pattern (Telo mimetico) using captured fabric and camouflage  printing rollers. Gamers who field SS troops can paint the zeltbahn in: plane tree or oak leaf pattern. I have not come across any in "pea dot" but cannot rule it out as, on a war setting, items were frequently made with what was available at the time of manufacture.