Painting German Panzer Grenadier (autumn smock)Uniform

Brief History

The term Panzergrenadier was not adopted until 1942. Infantry in panzer divisions from 1939 onwards were known as Schützen Regiments; they wore the same rose pink piping on their uniforms as the tank crews.

Soldiers in special Motorized Infantry units wore the standard white piping of the Infantry.

In 1942, when Infantry Regiments were renamed as Grenadier Regiments by Hitler as a historical homage to Frederick the Great's Army, the Schützen regiments (and the soldiers in them) began to be redesignated as Panzergrenadier regiments, as did Motorized Infantry units and soldiers.

Their waffenfarbe was also changed from either white (in the case of Motorized Infantry) or rose pink (with an "S" cypher that distinguished the Schützen from the tank and anti-tank units that also wore that colour) to a grass green shade previously worn by motorcycle troops. Some units did not change over their designations and/or waffenfarbe accoutrements until 1943.

Panzergrenadier Units

Panzergrenadiere operating in the area of Aachen, late 1944.The term Panzergrenadier was applied equally to both the infantry component of Panzer Divisions as well as the new
divisions known as Panzergrenadier Divisions.

Most of the Heer's PzGren. divisions evolved via upgrades from ordinary infantry divisions, first to Motorized Infantry divisions and then to PzGren. divisions, retaining their numerical designation within the series for infantry divisions throughout the process. This included the 3rd, 10th, 14th, 15th, 16th, 18th, 20th, 25th, and 29th divisions.

Others, such as the Großdeutschland Division, were built up over the course of the war by repeatedly augmenting the size of an elite regiment or battalion. The Waffen SS also created several PzGren. divisions by the same methods, or by creating new divisions from scratch later in the war. A number of PzGren. divisions in both the Heer and Waffen SS were upgraded to Panzer divisions as the war progressed.

The Panzergrenadier divisions were organized as combined arms formations, usually with
six battalions of truck-mounted infantry organized into either two or three regiments, a
battalion of tanks, and an ordinary division's complement of artillery, reconnaissance units,
combat engineers, anti-tank and anti-aircraft artillery, and so forth.

All these support elements would also be mechanized in a PzGren. division, though most of the artillery, anti-tank, and anti-aircraft elements were equipped with weapons towed by trucks rather than the relatively rare armored and self-propelled models.

In practice the PzGren. divisions were often equipped with heavy assault guns rather than tanks, due to a chronic shortage of tanks throughout the German armed forces. A few elite units, on the other hand, might have the tanks plus a battalion of heavy assault guns for their anti-tank element, and armored carriers for some of their infantry battalions as well.

On paper a Panzergrenadier division had one tank battalion less than a Panzer division,
but two more infantry battalions, and thus was almost as strong as a Panzer division,
especially on the defensive. Of 226 panzergrenadier battalions in the whole of the German
Army, Luftwaffe and Waffen SS in September 1943, only 26 were equipped with armoured
half tracks, or just over 10 percent. The rest were equipped with trucks.

Painting the Miniature Figure

The miniature figure I am painting is from the Tamiya 1/35 German Front Line Infantry box set. I have chosen the most affordable figure on the market which makes it possible for anyone to try this at home and get the similar results if they want to.

I have chosen to paint my miniature figure in autumn camouflage pattern. Therefore the colours that I’m using will be be dominantly warm colours of oranges and browns.

On the original autumn uniform pattern, there are 5 different colours. For this session, I am only using 3 colours. The reason for this is the intricacy of the design, size of the leaf pattern and the most obvious: it looks just as good as the original uniform colours. I also realised that with just 3 colours, it looks less cluttered and simpler to shade and highlight.


Vallejo Burnt Umber, Offwhite and Basic Skintone
Begin laying down the basecoat for the miniature figure. I’m using acrylic colours from Vallejo Model Color. You can also try other brands of acrylics like Tamiya or Mr Color. For the basecoat, I’m using a mix of Vallejo Burnt Umber, Offwhite and Basic Skintone. I mix and match the colour by eye( this is a good practice). I’m diluting the basecolour with water before I apply between 2-3 thin coats of the colour onto the miniature figure.

Painting the leaf pattern smock

Vallejo Orange Brown, Yellow Sand and Offwhite
Once done, I will use thinned down Matt Black to outline the seams to give me a guide to where the camoflage pattern begins and ends on the smock. By doing this, I will be able to control the design of the patterns on the figure. It is very important to have reference pictures of the camouflage pattern whether it is from the internet or from books. You
need to study how the pattern takes shape on the uniform and emulate the design as close as possible.

The first leaf pattern is orange design which is a mix of orange brown, yellow sand and offwhite. The dilution is about the same as the base coat. Try using a fine liner brush to create the leaf pattern cause the pattern is really very tiny and this technique is very handy as the design gets more detailed and intricate.

Then I outlined the orange pattern with Leather Brown with the same dilution as the previous application.

Do not worry about the pattern if it is not not taking the right shape cause the next step is the reapplication of the leaf colors to adjust and make the pattern look more right- just go through the process one more time to correct the design.

Follow up on adjustments mentioned above to the patterns of each leaf colour to make the design look closer to the actual camouflage pattern.

Adding Shade and Highlights

When painting the shades in the folds of the uniform, I apply two layers of Leather Brown. The first is a diluted Leather brown on its own while the second layer I added some black and applied in the deepest crevices and seams.

For the hightlights I use the base colour of each leaf pattern and applied over the high areas of the folds. I also applied two layers of highlights for each colour.

For example the orange leaf basecolour was first used on the higher parts of a fold while Basic Skintone was added to the basecolour for only the highest areas of the fold. Always remember to thin your paint when highlighting.

Painting the trousers

Painting a plain coloured uniform is much easier than painting a leaf pattern design. The common method with using acrylics is to paint the basecoat and then adding 3 layers of highlights and 2 layers of shades. The trousers will be painted in German Field Grey as the basecoat. Thin the basecoat with 2 parts water and 1 part paint. Apply 2-3 coats onto the miniature figure.


Once the basecoat is done, I began working with the first hightlight. For hightlighting I added 25% Basic Skintone with 75% Field Grey. I also thinned down the paint approximately 8-12 part water to 1 part paint. If the paint is too thick, it will clog up the area and achieving the highlighting effect becomes difficult and messy. For this first highlight, you need to visualize with lighting coming from the top of the miniature figure. Normally what I do is to paint the figure with lighting right on top of me.

With the light as a guide I apply onto the trouser areas which is prominent and facing the top. Later I will use this same mixture to blend the basecolour and second highlight.

For the second highlight I mix 50% Basic Skintone with 50% Field Grey. Similarly I thinned down the mixture and this time round, I apply only the prominent areas or folds facing upwards.

The third and final highlight, as you can guess it, I mix 75% Basic Skintone to 25% Field Grey. I only highlight the highest areas of the trousers. Once all done, the blending or transition from one highlight to the other should look gradual. If it is’nt , use the same highlight mixes again to touch up the areas which is not blended well.

With a Liner Brush, I then outlined the seams of the trousers using a thinned down Matt Black.

Painting Accessories

The leather belt and webbing is a mix of Vallejo Glossy Black and Leather Brown. I then use Orange Brown to highlight the prominent areas. Similarly for the boots, I use the same mix and highlight but also added some Iraqi Sand to give it a dusty look.

The ammo pouch and breadbag on this miniature figure, is painted using a mix of Khaki and Yellow Sand. To highlight this, I just added some Offwhite.


Basically that’s how I painted my miniature Panzer Grenadier in autumn colours. I have come across others who have used different colour combinations before, this is just one of the ways I tried out.

The colours I chose were ones that were available to me at that point of time. Also a point that I like to make is that experimenting colour mixing is a good practice, since it cuts the cost of buying every colour range- all you need is some experimentation.

Well that’s my 2 cents worth on this topic. Hope this article can get you started.