At the moment, I am mostly painting T34s. Lots of T34s. I’m aiming for a Tank Company to grind Chris’ Grenadiers into the Motherland’s dust.
I’ve started with some T34/76s from the Company boxed set.
After labouriously cleaning them up (yawn), I’ve airbrushed a black undercoat over which I’ve sprayed Russian Green. Trying something different I’d picked up from Vallejo’s recent Acryllic Techniques for AFVs DVD, I’ve attempted to spray a fine coat of Light Green on the flat upper surfaces. I’ve been a bit heavy handed with this as I’m still new to airbrushing, but I quite like the effect it has on breaking up the monotone green, green, green.
Working on the assumption that contrast is everything, I got carried away and drybrushed German Camouflage Bright Green (080) over the upper hulls as well. Whilst it’s a bit patchy, I’m not unhappy with the result.
Currently, I’m painting all the fine details like stowage and cabling. I always feel they look abit ropey at this stage. I plan to add some washes, initial weathering and a coat of Quickshade Dark Tone over the next few days.
As always, any feedback would be welcome.
Now, a week later, with time to reflect – and read further – I’m experiencing angst. A brief survey of how other people paint Soviet AFV reveals a preference to drybrush a 50/50 mix of the base colour (096 Russian Green) with white. White. Not Green. Bright, luminescent green.
To see what I mean, check out the illustrious Tomwise’s guide to painting IS-85s (TomWise_IS85) or October’s Military In Scale’s 7-page guide to painting a beautiful 1/35th scale IS-152.
Crunch time: Do I keep what I’ve done or risk drybrushing a 50/50 mix over what I’ve already achieved?
Considerations: I like the cold contrast of the white mix. Even the Wife likes this high contrast mix, but is it too stark? If I leave them as they are, will they look odd if I paint my next 2 batches of T34/85s differently? Decisions, decisions. And I thought this was supposed to be a fun hobby!
Well, I took the plunge and mixed up 50/50 Russian Green and White, dry brushed on with a big soft brush, sighed heavily as I painted over what I’d already done, but smiled when I saw the result:
As the final job is still quite streaky (a product of a big brush and a heavy hand?) I dry brushed a 40 / 60 mix of Russian Green / White with a finer, wider brush over the highlights and edges to get more of a contrast. Unhappy with the streaky-ness, I applied a coat of MIG P245 BROWN filter across the whole model to blend the colours in a bit. I also washed some around the wheels . This doesn’t seem to have worked brilliantly and I’m consoling myself that some Dark Tone may well blend the colours in better later.
To add insult to injury, the wife has just come in an said they don’t look any different. After 2 hours of work? Doh! I’ll console myself with a photo of how they should look:Next day, and with some additional source material and experimentation, I think I’ve made some progress. I’ve completed what I believe is called a ‘pin-wash’ on all the recesses of each vehicle using MIG Dark Wash. I was planning on using Army Painter’s Dark Tone, but changed my mind after seeing the effect of the wash. MIG’s Dark Wash is a pre-mixed enamel type wash and runs very easily into all the nooks and cranies deeping the contrast and highlighting the detail. I’ve used MIG thinner for washes to remove the unsightly tide lines this wash tends to leave behind (a technique I picked up from the ISU-152 article in Military in Scale). I think the T34s are now looking alot better:
Right, so I’m nearly back to where I started yesterday. Will post again after I’ve re-touched the detail, black washed the tracks and towing cables, added rust effects to the exhausts, cleaned up the tidal marks…
P.S. don’t forget that enamels take longer to dry than acryllics!
OK. looking like the last post today. Photo below shows rust effects applied, MGs done and engine louvres washed. Will post again when stowage is complete.
With a few hours extra work, I’ve repainted all the stowage items. This involved painting successive layers of the base colours (e.g. Vallejo 113 Khaki Grey, 094 Russian Uniform) mixed with white over each item. I kept the consistency of the paint very watery to ensure the colours blended easily. Interesting, I found it easier to blend darker colours than lighter colours (I’m pleased with the blue tarp). To achieve the rust effects over the fuel tanks, I liberally applied very watered down Panzer Aces 302 Dark Rust to the underside and, once dry, ran MIG Standard Rust Effects over the surface concentrating on the nozzle and mounts. The lamps were done by painting small ‘drops’ of very watered down 169 Neutral Grey and 105 Luftwaffe Uniform mixed with greater or lesser quantities of white. Finally, the impact mark on the front of 1 of the T34s was repainted dark grey, highlighted light grey and washed black. I used a cut up piece of sponge from a blister pack dipped in dark grey to create a random pattern of dots around the impact mark to simulate chipped paint, etc. Now to gloss varnish the turrets for decals…
A short trawl through the relevant literature reveals that Soviet AFV turret markings are not as well understood as I would like. Nevertheless, trends can be observed. Contrary to popular misconception, the red star was rarely used on wartime tanks. More often than not, turrets were simply adorned with wither a 2-, 3- or 4-digit tactical number (see below). In some cases, this was accompanied by a patriotic slogan and / or a unit marking, commonly a geometric shape:
In light of this research and consideration of the size of the decals provided as well as the sculpted vision slit, I’ve opted to decorate my turrets with a unit symbol, a couple of white stars and a slogan. I don’t want to overdo it here as I plan to include 2-digit tactical numbers and unit symbols on my T34/85s. In applying the decals, I’ve not done anything complicated. The application of gloss varnish should limit the amount of ‘silvering’ observable (‘silvering’ is likely to occur if you put your decal on top of a matt painted surface because the decal film can’t conform to the microscopically rough surface of matt paint). I just cut up the decals I want, give them a soak in warm water until they becoame loose and use a soft paint brush and tweezers to brush them onto the turrets. A little time was spent aligning them using plenty of water which was removed through the careful application of kitchen paper. One of the decals broke up during application (DON’T PANIC Mr. MANNERING! DON’T PANIC), but I was able to sort out the pieces through careful brush work and align them again so that you wouldn’t really know anything had gone wrong (phew…).
After giving the tracks a coat of Dullcote, I’ve washed them with a MIG P414 Track Brown pigment mixed with Thinner for Washes. Once dry, I wet my thumb and finger and drag across the tracks to uncover the original gun metal paint. I like the effect it creates:
However, progress is shortlived once I try and weather further. I’m not used to working with pigments and I fall right into the trap of doing to much and obscuring some of the detail I’ve worked hard to highlight:
Exasperated, I attack the pigment with a damp piece of kitchen paper and then brutalise it some more with cotton buds! The benefit of having applied the pigment with thinner is that it can be rubbed off with a little effort. But I’m still not happy with the final result…perhaps I need to work from a guide?
October’s edition of Military Modelcraft International is devoted to Soviet AFVs and there’s a brilliant piece on painting a 1/72 ISU-152 (these monsters are obviously flavour of the month in modelling circles…). Plenty of really useful tips here (lovin’ the idea of using table salt for ‘chipping’) and a fine example of weathering. When I’ve dullcoted the hulls and glued the tracks on, I’ll have a go at that dusty look.
As an aside: I’ve just been supergluing the tracks and made the following mental ‘notes to self’ for the future:
- When preparing a tank, check the underside of the hull where the tracks will go for excess resin and remove it. I had a lump that upset the alignment of the hull with the track!
- Be careful not to apply too much pressure when aligning the hull with the track and avoid snapping off the front venders.
- Be careful not to apply too much pressure to the edges of the hull where the resin is thin. 1 of mine fragmented under the slightest of pressure.
So, there they are. With the glue still drying, they’re pretty much ready to go. I’m always suprised at how much better they look when the hulls are mounted on the tracks. All that remains is to seal the pigments after a final weathering to blend the 2 pieces together. That, and all the minor paint jobs caused during the gluing!
Pigments… I often wonder why I persist in trying to use this medium to weather AFVs. When you look at what can be achieved with paint and, say, a Tamiya weathering pen, I wonder why I’ve invested in buying a range of MIG pigments. I take consolation in the fact that, as I get more experienced in using them, so the effects I can achieve are getting better:
These photos hide a few hours of work and quite abit of bloood, sweat, tears and custard! I’ve found that it’s easy to wreck a paint job weathering a vehicle. Whilst there are resources out there showing you how to use pigments on 1/35th scale vehicles, there’s surprisingly little about their application on 1/100 scale minis (but do watch this). Through bitter experience, I think I’ve learnt the following:
- Apply pigments and Tamiya weathering products after varnishing. I weathered my IS-2s and then applied a coat of varnish which soaked up most of the effect I had achieved. You can still see it, but its very, very faded.
- If you’ve got an old model, practice any new effects on that first before applying it to your 120 hour paint job. I use an old Britainnia miniatures 1/72 P4 chassis:
- Keep it subtle, don’t over apply pigments as they often obscure all the highlights and low lights you’ve worked hard to create.
- Wet and dry applications of pigments have different effects. Mixing greater or lesser proportions of pigments with either tap water or MIG Thinner for Washes allows you to run pigments over your model like a conventional wash but, at this scale, you tend to get a quite an opaque uniform colour (see tracks above). I haven’t had much success mixing different colours whilst wet. I prefer a very diluted wash of dark colours to start with. You can always apply lighter pigments later with a brush once dry. A dry application of pigments produces quite translucent effects, like a dust over the vehicle which can be quite effective (see venders and exhausts).
- Watch your colours, some pigments look better than others. The MIG P034 Russian Earth pigment hardly shows on a dark green base. In the examples above, I’ve found P028 Europe Dust and P033 Dark Mud have worked the best.
- Don’t be shy to wet your thumb and run it across your models to recover lost highlights. If it all goes wrong, a liberal wash in tap water can get the worst of the pigment off, but your AFV might remain a little dull.
- Don’t over apply MIG Pigment Fixer if you want to avoid unsightly tidal marks on your models (see front right vender above). Avoid brushing it on as this can disturb the effect you have created. Dab it on and allow the capilliary action to do the work for you.