I painted this tiny guy –one of my favorites WWII tanks, although it was a prototype– two years ago. It is a E-25 tank, produced in 15mm by Khurasan Miniatures. In parallel I prepared a painted guide with the idea of publishing it in a magazine at some point. Since that moment the guide has been going back and forth in my DropBox…So I finally decided to share it with all of you. Although I have already published similar painting guides in my blog, I believe that there is always something new to learn. The contribution of this article is the combination of the hairspray technique (or chipping fluid) with Blu-tack masks in order to create a complex and worn camouflage. I hope you enjoy it!
Step 1 – Preparation
First we remove all imperfections from the model with a modelling knife and files. Then we can glue some essential parts such as hatches, while it is advisable to paint separately other elements such as the tracks (it will be easier to paint them). Finally, we apply the primer. The priming step is mandatory because we are going to use very aggressive techniques; and therefore, we need to have a good foundation to avoid surprises. I have used grey color because every colors, dark and light, easily cover the grey preventing us from applying several layers of paint.
Step 2 – Camouflage
I decided to paint this “paperpanzer” with a “what if” scheme I found in a book of tank profiles. Basically, it’s a tritonal camouflage with three different green colors painting amoeboid shapes whit hard edges. Wondering how can we simulate this pattern in 15mm? We can easily do it using an airbrush and masks with blu-tack.
First we airbrush the basic color. In my case, I chose the lightest green. It does not matter which color we use as the first, because the idea is that every green color cover the same volume of surface. Regarding the lightning, I have followed the Color Modulation technique, which consists in take into account different light spots instead of only one (zenithal light = the sun). Therefore, we can paint independently each panel with its own shades and lights. The results is quite unrealistic, but it’s very striking! And it is perfect for ours 15mm models that will be perfectly visible in the battlefield. Additionally, consider that after applying the weathering effects the striking contrasts are attenuated.
For the initial color I have used Resedagrün (A.MIG-003) as base color. First I painted the shades with A.MIG-915, then I applied the Resedagrün and finally the highlights with A.MIG-917. If you do not have the colors used for the shades and lights you can always mix the initial color with white for the lights or with any dark green or black for the shades. I prefer to use these bottles because I save time and I always use exactly the same color. Remember that we should always thin a little bit the paint to easily airbrush it. It is better to apply several layers because the paint is too much thinned, rather than to stop painting because in order to clean the blocked airbrush.
Now we can do something very interesting and realistic at the same time: chippings in the remaining two colors of the camouflage, revealing the initial light green color. We are going to do it by using the “Chipping fluid” from AMMO or the hairspray technique. But first we have to apply a layer of satin varnish in order to protect the previous work. Once the varnish is dry, we apply a thin layer of the chipping fluid around the whole vehicle with the airbrush. In this article you can find more info (in Spansih). After several minutes, we can start working on the following camouflage elements.
We need to be quick at this point. We do not want the chipping fluid to be very dry or otherwise it will be slightly complicated to work with it. To create hard edges camouflages we can use masks made with masking tape, paper or auto-adhesive putties (such as Blu-Tack, Silly Putty, Tank Putty, etc). In this case I prefer to use an auto-adhesive putty because of the uneven surface of the vehicle and the shapes of the camouflage marks. Furthermore, I prefer to use Blu-Tack rather than to use silly or tank putty because the first one is more adhesive and therefore is easily fixed. To create the masks we put a small piece of putty and then shape it using the extreme of a brush. Take a look at the picture. Notice that we have to “negatively think”: the covered part will conserve the initial color, meanwhile the exposed one will be painted. Additionally, remember that we still need to paint TWO more green colors. Therefore, leave enough unmasked space for them.
Now we apply the second camouflage color, a darker green. I decided to use Olivgrün (A.MIG-003) which was consecutively highlighted by mixing this color with A.MIG-917 in a 1 to 1 proportion. I have not painted shades here. Once more, remember to thin the paints. Thinned paints actually allows as to create softer transitions. It is very important to follow the same lightning style we previously painted. That is, the highlights applied on top of this new color must be painted in the same direction or area that we highlighted previously. Every panel should have all the colors highlighted in the same way.
We repeat the same masking process. Take into account that every color of the camouflage must cover more or less the same surface. Try to do not move so much the first masks.
Finally, we paint the darkest color. In my case I have used Olive green (XF-58, Tamiya), which was mixed with A.MIG-917 to apply the highlights. No shades. Note, continue respecting the lightning style.
Now the funniest part begins! We can easily remove the mask by pulling from it. Unfortunately, sometimes we can accidentally remove part of the paint. No problem! Just repaint that part with a brush. We can easily cover the problem during in weathering step.
The chipping fluid lasts active for several hours, but we should not lost time. Once the camouflage is ready and the putty has been removed, we can start doing the chippings. We need to re-hydrate the chipping fluid. That is, to add some water over the surface with a brush. Then, using a toothpick we carefully remove the paint from the darker green colors. We work little by little very area. We finish one area and then we move into the next one.
After finishing the chipping effects we paint the tracks and exhausts. I have painted the tracks with a medium brown such as Track primer VA 304, while I used flat brown (984, Vallejo) to paint the exhausts. Additionally, now is the moment to apply decals or use stencils; before applying any weathering technique. Finally, before starting the weathering effects, we apply a new layer of satin varnish to protect what we have previously done. Notice that I have painted some wheels in red primer by airbrushing flat brown.
Step 3 – Weathering
The first step to bring to the life our tiny model is to mark all the recess and details with. To do it we apply “pin wash”. That is, we apply the wash only in the recesses, instead of over the whole surface. For this purpose it is advisable to use enamel instead of acrylic paints. Although enamels require hours to dry in comparison to acrylics, (1) are easier to work (you drop a bit and it directly spreads covering the recesses) and (2) we can remove the excess of paint afterwards (acrylic paints dry in second and we cannot remove them at all). I have used a very dark brown color for the green surface (A.MIG-1005) and a reddish color for the tracks (A.MIG-1002).
After waiting 1 hour or so we can start removing the excess of enamel. We can use a brush or cotton swab moistened in white spirit to remove it. Indeed, if we apply vertical strokes we can simultaneously create some interesting streaking effects (although this is not our main purpose now). If for any reason you have removed too much wash, you can re-paint that part using an acrylic paint and a very thin brush (instead of applying a new layer of enamel, because we should wait one hour again). Actually, I always use a brush and an acrylic paint be sure that every recess is painted in order to reinforce the contrast.
Now we can start one of the most interesting weathering effects, the chippings and scratches. We are going to use acrylic paints here. I like to split this technique in two steps: (1) paint the light color (we can always mix the original color with a bit of white) and then (2) paint the dark color (such as A.MIG-044 or Dark Oxide 302 Vallejo). The first color simulates superficial scratches and chippings, while the dark one represents the uncovered metal. I have painted them here using a fine brush. However we can also use a sponge to easily represent them: take some paint with the sponge, remove the most part on a paper, and then start stippling it on the surface of the vehicle. However, I do not like the sponge technique that much as we do not have control; and therefore, I prefer to use the brush to carefully paint the chipping and scratches. Anyways, take into account that the scale we are working with is 15mm. Therefore, these effects must be very tiny. On the other hand, remember “less is more”. We do not have to paint scratches everywhere! Focus on the more exposed areas, such as hatches or side skirts.
To represent dirty and the general exposition of the vehicle to the environment we can apply some streaking effects. Once more, we can use enamels to obtain better results because we can easily blend this type of paint with a bit of thinner. To simulate streaking effects I have used three or four different colors: brown to simulate dirty; beige to represent dust; red brown to mimic rust, etc. The idea is to combine several colors in order to obtain a more real looking. To apply the effect we only need to paint lines with the different enamels on the vertical panels (forget horizontal ones, where gravity is not working in the same way!).
After waiting 5 minutes we can start blending the lines we painted using a flat brush moistened in white spirit. We use a wide and flat brush and apply vertical strokes. We will easily eliminate the most part of the enamel. Do not worry about. This effect must subtly anyways. And we can always repeat this step as many times as we want until we obtain the result we want. Additionally, we can specifically work on some individual streaking effects using a fine brush to shape and blend it without removing much paint. However this effects are very striking and we should not use many of them (note, this effects are typical of wrecks, but our vehicle is not abandoned!!!).
In this picture you can see the final result after applying a couple of layers of “general” streaking effects and after working individually some of them. The variety is very important!
If you remember, we have been working on the vertical surfaces. But, what does occur with the horizontal ones? Using the same enamels we previously used we can represent accumulated dirty or corrosion around different elements of the horizontal surfaces, such as the hatches. Apply a little bit of enamel around the details; and after waiting 5 minutes, blend the extremes of the stain with a brush moistened in white spirit.
Another interesting effect we can simulate is dust or sand. We can easily represent it with pigments. There are several ways to use them. In my case I have applied them like a wash: I have thinned a couple of earth-colored pigments with white spirit, and then I have apply the wash on the underbody and around the details placed in horizontal surfaces.
Pigments require several hours to dry completely. And we have to wait until they are totally dry. By then the result will be something like the following picture. It is terrible, is not it? Do not panic!
Now we can soften the effect by using a cotton swab. Using this tool we remove the pigments the most part of the pigments from the surface, excepting from the areas surrounding the details (the cotton cannot reach these). In the case of the side skirts, we have to be more careful and only blend the upper part of the dusty area. Now it is not so terrible, right?
Finally we can add some splatter effects. I do not want to repeat myself and therefore you can just check this guide where I precisely use this tank to explain how to do this effect.
Step 4 – Tracks
If you remember, we painted the tracks with a brown color and applied a reddish wash. Now, is the moment to add dust effects. We use the same mixture that we previously prepare with pigments and White Spirit to simulate the accumulated sand. We generously apply this mixture over the tracks and wheels. As we have seen, once the pigment is totally dry we remove the excess with a cotton swab.
We can use a graphite pen to simulate the metal of the tracks. We apply it only over the reliefs, using it horizontally. This effect is very simple and at the same time very real, as you can see in the picture. Now, our tank is ready to roll! However, take into account that we can easily ruin the splatter and dust effects with our hands. We have not applied any varnish at the end. We could apply it, but we will ruin the effects done with pigments. The pigment absorbers the water and becomes darker. An alternative solution is to use “pigment fixer” instead of white spirit when dissolving the pigments.