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Weathering Techniques in AFV Modelling

Part -2-

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In the previous article, we talked about filtering and local washes. These techniques can be applied for all vehicles in general; however the techniques in this article are dependent on the vehicle you want to model.

Leaks and Streaks

Some leaks and streaks are generally formed on vehicles depending on the places they are used in, environmental factors, their maintenance, so on. Examples for these leaks and streaks could be rain streaks, marks from fuel or oil leaks and rust streaks. I believe to reproduce such weathering marks on our model, we have to follow a certain order. First of all, we should paint on the base coat and apply all washes and filters. Otherwise, the leaks and streaks will be blended onto the vehicle and look as if they are part of the vehicle, while they are and should look like separate items. My order for weathering is as follows: paint-rust streaks, oil leaks and rain streaks. This order, of course, is not definite; it only reflects my personal choice and can differ from one model to another. You can apply some techniques several times, while others can be used only once.

The really simple method I use to simulate paint-rust streaks utilizes oil paints. The necessary equipment: oil colors, thin paint brush, turpentine. First of all, we choose our color and take a very little amount by our brush. You might use different shades of brown depending on your personal choices, I prefer using “umber nature (natural umber)” for this task. We touch our brush onto the starting point of the streak and make a very small dot. Making the dot as small as possible is very important in terms of scale, larger dots will create larger streaks which can be out of scale. After placing our dot, we take another brush that is a little thicker and wet it with turpentine, be sure to remove excess turpentine from the brush. After that, starting from the dot, we will pull our brush down vertically without pressing too hard. Here, the amount of turpentine on the brush and not pressing down too hard is critical, you might remove your dot completely otherwise. If everything is right, your brush will create a small streak. By repeating the process from the beginning, you can create streaks wherever you want on the vehicle. Take care not to overdo this!

We don’t need to use the oil color in dots all the time. If there are crevices on the model, like welding seams or the corners of road wheels, you can brush on more oil paint and spread it around locally by your turpentine brush to obtain greater effects (Do not forget to clean up your brush before each application)

Paint Chips

“Paint Chips” is an issue for which you can write lots and lots of articles about. For many, the realism of paint chips is a hot debate topic since the exaggerated paint chips you see on many models can not occur in real life. The result for this is simple really. A vehicle into which soldiers get in for safety and protection can not be in a scrapyard state with lots of rust, chipped paint and other signs of wear and tear. Askerlerin daha güvende olabilmek için içine girdikleri bir aracın dökülme-cürüme-paslanma gibi hurdalığın işareti olan bir durum içine bırakılmaları mümkün değil. Military vehicle crews generally try to keep their vehicles in good condition so that the vehicles do not fail in combat and become their grave. Of course, we can not say that there’s no paint chipping, rust and wear&tear on military vehicles. On the contrary, since the utility of these vehicles are more important than how they look and since these vehicles are subject to adverse conditions especially during combat operations, there’s always some damage. These are not sport cars with shiny paint jobs. The important thing is not overdoing the application of chips and using as many references as possible if you are aiming for a realistic look on your model. As usual, this is not a must. If you are building model for your own personal pleasure and don’t care about realism, you are completely to do as you please, you are not claiming anything about realism anyway.

There are many ways to simulate paint chips on models. Each person can have his personal best way for producing chips, yet I will tell you the simplest methods you can use. First of these is the “sponge method”. As its name indicates, we first need a piece of sponge for this method.

After cutting a piece off from a sponge (better if it is good quality), we dip it into the paint we chose to show through our chips. The colors that will be visible in the chips could be dark greys like Humbrol No.67 or mixtures of black and brown. I used Revell’s panzer grey for this application. The paint should be a little thick, not thinned at all. After we wip our sponge into the paint, we press it on a paper towel to remove excess paint. This is very important; otherwise you will get too much paint on your model and ruin it. Make sure you have very little paint remaining on the sponge. Now we will press the sponge on the places where we want to obtain chipped paint. Due to its structure, the sponge will keep paint on it randomly and the chips on the model will be random as well. This is exactly the effect we want: Small and random chips you can not normally reproduce with a paint brush. What we should be aware of is where the paint accumulates on the sponge. With a little trial and error you can master this method quite easily. Another important factor is where you want the paint chips on the model. These chips can usually be applied to corners, but you should still make good use of references. You can obtain great results with this method, but do not overdo it! Otherwise, your model will look quite unrealistic. I should also point out that by using the sponge method, you can also produce winter washes, splattered mud and similar effects.

Another method to produce paint chips is the “Pencil Method”. By using the side  (not the tip!) of a B pencil, you can go over corners and edges to give a worn metallic look. Similarly, using the tip this time, you can reproduce scratches on the surfaces. The key is the same: Do not overdo!

After applying the sponge and pencil methods, our model looks like this.

Apart from what I’ve explained so far, you can use other methods for paint chips as well. For a short summary:

Dry Brushing: The dry brushing method, normally used to give light effects by using a lighter tone of the base color, can also be used to produce paint chips. We first choose which color will show through the chips, dip our brush into this paint and remove the excess on a paper towel until very little paint remains on the brush. After that we gently brush this paint on corners and edges where the paint might have peeled off and give a worn look.

Thin Paint Brush: By using a thin brush, we can paint on scrathes on the surface and circular small paint chips. Do not forget the scale effect and paint oversized scrathes and chips.

Masking: This method requires more patience and expertise compared to others. First, we paint the sub-color, the color that will show through the chips. This color is than masked with maskol, table salt or any other masking material (Apply maskol with sponge). Table salt can be stuck on the surface by water. After masking, the base paint is painted on the model. After that, by removing the masks you will create your paint chips.

Heavy Chipping

Until here, we have worked on light chips that will not look too exaggerated. If you want more chips that are more visible, we now need a thin brush and lots of patience. Behold the heavy chips!

Firsf of all, we need a lighter tone of our base paint, which we will obtain by adding white to our base color until it looks satisfactory. In our example, we will add white to dark yellow to obtain a very light yellow color. Then we dip our thin brush into this paint and carefully paint on random marks on the model.

It might look funny at first, but have a little patience; everything will fall into place in a moment. In the following step, we need a really dark color (not black, but dark brown mixed with black would be a good choice) we will paint inside our previous light yellow marks.

We might keep on repeating these until we are satisfied with the look of the model. Try to obtain small and very random marks to get more realistic results. It might be beneficial to take photos and check your progress once in a while.

We will repeat the same process on the body of the vehicle for consistency between the turret and the hull.

Oil Stains

It is very easy to reproduce oil stains. First, you must choose where such stains will be placed. After that, thin matt black (I used enamel black) as much you can and paint it on randomly on the chosen spots. Our purpose is not to paint over with black. Instead, the black should be nearly transparent to simulate an oil leak.

After that, we will use a thicker coat of black and fill inside these transparent black stains. Our purpose here is to achieve a spread oil look...

Lastly, we will brush a thick coat of “gloss black” on the inner sections. This gloss black will simulate new stains that happened as a result of leaked or spilt oil. The matt blacks will simulate previous stains that have dried out.

Now we will reproduce leaks from these stains. What we need is dark brown oil paint, matt black enamel paint and gloss varnish.

When we are preparing the mixture, the amount of varnish will be more, the paints will be less. We apply this mixture by a thin brush, with vertical strokes in places where we want the leaks. The gloss varnish and oil paint in the mixture will give the leaks the sheen that oil usually has. It is necessary to practiv al little to be able to make the best mixture.

Making Mud

Eventhough mud hasn’t been applied on our example model, I will still tell you about making mud. Correctly applied, mud will improve the looks of your model tremendously and can be prepared with very simple ingredients. Necessary ingredients: finely sifted earth, modeling putty, oil color(s) of necessary tones and necessary amounts of enamel thinner. Put these ingredients in a cup and mix thoroughly until the mixture looks like wet mud. Apply this on the model using an old and useless paint brush.

Careful, you should keep the brush perpendicular to the model during application for best results.

After that, leave this “mud” to dry. After drying, the colors will get paler and it will look like dried earth more. In the following stages, you can touch up your mud using powdered pastels or pigments to improve its look.

As with all issues regarding weathering techniques, making mud has several alternative methods. The one we talked about is the simplest of all regarding both ingredients and application. However, I can not say that it is the best way to make mud. The best way completely depens on the modeler’s skill, experience, knowledge of material and personal likes.

Powdered Pastels

We can assume that powdered pastels are actually stunt doubles of pigments. Although very effective and dense, pigments are also very expensive. Powdered pastels, on the other hand, have the advantage of being much cheaper in comparison. Although not as effective as pigments themselves, they can still produce impressive results.

What you should first know is that the pastels used for modeling purposes are the dry kind, without oily components. They are more like chalk in substance. You can use them in their powder form after grinding them or mix them in a solvent like alcohol or turpentine.

It is sometimes stated that to grind pastels into powder you need to use sanding paper. This might work, but in my opinion it wastes a lot of the pastel for nothing and it is not economical as a result. Plus, it is very messy and time consuming. The easiest way to grind pastels into powders is using a small sprinkler. You can purchase a simple, small sprinkler from any hardware store cheaply and use it only for this purpose of grinding pastels.

In our application, we will try to simulate dried dirt and mud in the tracks of our tank. We will first choose relevant colors, then grind them into powder (Rub our pastels onto the sprinkler aaaand… our powder is ready!)

Into this powder mix, we will add a suitable solvent, one which is compatible with all the material you have used this far. You can use the powder mixture without a solvent as well, but this will reduce the pastel’s ability to adhere to the model. I used alcohol as a solvent. By adding alcohol slowly, I turned my powder mixture into slime (You can make it less dense by adding more solvent, depends on the effect you want). Using a thick brush, I applied this slime ontu the tracks thoroughly. As you can see, due to the alcohol the colors look darker, be careful, when dry the color will become lighter. Due to this color change, I recommend you first apply your mixture on a test surface and dry it to see the final color it will take. You can make necessary color adjustments according to this and avoid nasty surprises.

By using our sponge method, I applied some pastel mixture to the areas where mud could be splattered.

Now we need to wait for some time for the alcohol in our “mud” to dry. After the drying time you will see that we have a dusty, nice effect on the places where we applied it. Be careful, our powdered pigments can easily be removed by slightest contact; this is because of the characteristic of the material. If you try varnishing to protect the pastels, you will see that the varnish will solve the pastels. You will both lose the density of the applied pastels and their color will be distorted. Two ways of protecting your pastels: 1. Using very thin varnish and applying it from a large distance 2. Using Pigment-Fixer from Mig Productions

I removed excess pastels on the tracks of our example model by wiping it away with a piece of cloth. After making sure the pastels only remained in recesses, I dry brushed metallic colors on the tracks.

One of the most important materials in current AFV modeling is pigments. To explain how to use them efficiently, we need a separate detailed article. The information disclosed in this article is aimed mainly at beginners and intermediate level modelers.

Weathering Interiors

By only utilizing a combination of the disclosed techniques above, you can produce very aesthetic interios. In the photo you can see our interior example. After the base colors were painted, first filtering then local washes were applied. The rest of the applications are marked on the photo.

If we return to our example model, it was completed after a few touch-ups following the metallic dry brushing on the tracks. You can see the completed model here in this link:

Pz.Kpfw. T-70 743 (r) Beutepanzer

You might ask me “Will the model be varnished by matt varnish?”. Many top class modelers (like Mig Jimenez, Adam Wilder, etc.) do not use final coat of varnish on their models. This is because varnish creates a monotone look on the vehicle and distorts many weathering effects. Well, we are not building models to play around, we build them for displays, right? You won’t need to varnish you model before completion unless the model will have to face adverse conditions. Unless treated harshly, all weathering applications on your model will maintain their condition. You can display them without worry.

There are two conditions to build a good model: Good assembly and good painting. A model with good assembly and paint will be tremendously improved with right weathering applications. To achieve aesthetic and realistic results, be sure to make good research and a lot of practice. This article covers a variety of techniques, but be aware that every day new techniques are discovered and published. There are many different techniques not included in this article and every day new ones will arise. As a result, use this article only as a starting point, keep yourself updates, do not be afraid to read and search for new information. Once you start, the rest will follow…

I would also like to thank Murat Özgül and Emre Efli who contributed dearly for this article.

Happy Modeling Days...

Özgür Güner, December 2008

Last Update Dezember 25, 2008 by freeguner

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Dezember 25, 2008