Tank Weathering Made Fairly Easy


Sherman_FinalI recently finished this Sherman tank for my Bolt Action demo game set. Being in the US, people see the Americans and instantly relate to them which helps draw them into the demo game. After all, the key is to get them started! While doing the model, I explored some new weathering techniques that I learned at Adepticon and I was amazed at how easy they worked and how great the finished product ended up looking.

Weathering vehicles is something I knew nothing about before playing Bolt Action. This wasn’t something that’s widely done on Fantasy models. You would see a little on Nurgle models and other worn and rusted bits of armor, but for the most part, this wasn’t done so one of my goals this year with Adepticon was to learn more about weathering vehicles.

One of the techniques I saw was using unscented hair spray and layering colors with an airbrush so I thought the heck with it, and gave it a try. So, to start with I sprayed the model with black primer and let it set up overnight. I wanted the primer coat to adhere as best as possible and the black would look ok, least I figure as much, if I chipped through the paint all the way to the primer coat. Over this I sprayed a layer of hairspray and then let that dry fully. On this, went a yellow brown paint from Minitaire. I don’t know the color exactly, but any brownish yellow would work. In hindsight, I think next time I am going to paint a red on at this point. Next I sprayed the model with another layer of hair spray and took an old toothbrush and banged away at the model. This left random chip points in the paint and the primer coat did exactly what I wanted, which was to stick to the model!

After this set up, I sprayed the model with hair spray again and let that dry. Once dry, I sprayed the model with red paint and let that dry. I used a hair dryer to speed up the drying time and then hit it with hair spray again. With the hair spray wet, I again tapped the model pretty aggressively with that toothbrush. All I can say is that even though I had a red Sherman tank at this point, the look was stunning!

With another go with the hair dryer to get the model to fully dry (OK, I should have been more patient and let it set up over night) I hit the model with another coat of hair spray. Let that dry, and then hit the model with Reaper paints Army Green and ensured that was fully dry. Again, a spray of hair spray and the toothbrush to chip away some of the green paint was key here. At this stage, since the final color was as I wanted (well, short the highlights), I paid special attention to the fenders and under carriage of the tank. I still hit it on the turret and other areas. What you can see in the following picture is the final results of this technique.Sherman_WIP

At this point, I let the model now sit over night. I wanted the paint to fully set before the next stage which is working with weathering pigments. One of the things I noticed with the previous method was that in a couple of spots I removed too much paint or it was a little obvious that I had hit it with a brush or stuck my finger into it and now have fingerprints on the model. Using an additive method for things like mud effects looks more natural where as in the previous technique we are using a subtractive method to effectively remove material (rust should look like flakes and chips out of the model after all!).

When I work with pigments, I do this away from my normal painting area to start with. I also use the MIG pigment fixer to help with adherence to the model after it’s applied. Using a very dry brush, usually a much bigger one than that which people usually paint with, I like using a 2 here, dab the brush in the pigment of choice. I like the products by Secret Weapon Miniatures. You’ll need to experiment and you should research the type of mud you are trying to recreate before buying the pigments, but since this was for demo use, I wasn’t as serious about getting that right and just picked a brownish color. Dabbing the mud pigment in chunks on the tracks, undercarriage and on the fendors helped the vehicle look muddy. On this model, I wanted the mud to look more like road dust like it hadn’t rained in a little while, so I opted for a little less chunky and more just brushed on. Once on the model, I used drops of pigment fixer that was dripped onto the areas where the pigment is to help it adhere.

The final step when you are done with pigments, particularly if you are going to use the model for normal gaming is to spray it with a varnish. I use a matte varnish myself from Krylon, product #1311 from their line. I use this on all of my metal models and some of my plastics like this project. The final result is pretty great, and took all of about 2 hours from beginning to end to finish. For the amount of effort, the model looks remarkably good. In the future, I am going to make a template to do the star with the airbrush for Allied WW2 Vehicles as I think that would have looked better and been more consistent with a better tool.

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