Sunday, 5 July 2015

How I Paint Tanks


Greetings Gentle Readers,

Not my most inspiring post title, I'm sure you'll agree, but accurate for all that. I am currently working on these two Bolt Action tanks; a plastic Sherman and a resin Pershing.


This is where they are at - ready for stage 9 (see below):





RoyW over at the Paint Table Saturday community asked how they were painted. In case my methods may prove useful to others I will detail them here. Let me stress however I am not a brilliant painter. If you want display models head over to the Troop of Shewe Gallery and see what magic Neil Burt creates! Mine are adequate for the tabletop and that's good enough for me.

Here's a couple of completed examples from my collection:

M10 Tank Destroyer - Warlord Games

M24 Chaffee - Warlord Games


The sequence (at least for allied WW2 tanks) is usually like this (colours mentioned are Vallejo unless stated otherwise):

  1. Sprayed black undercoat.
  2. Base colour applied with a big brush, semi-drybrushing so the black stays in the big recesses, mainly deep in the tracks. Colour choices range from US Dark Green, US Olive Drab or Brown Violet
  3. A lighter drybrush with the base colour and olive green or green-grey in a 50/50 mix.
  4. A final drybrush, very light, of the same 50/50 mix with some white, concentrating on the hard edges.
  5. First wash is always a thinned black ink, applied around all the small protuberances like towing hooks, filler caps, gratings etc - most of this is wiped off whilst still wet.
  6. Then a light shading wash of black green ink in significant recesses.
  7. Once dry I sometimes spray with gloss varnish to assist the application of the decals.
  8. Usually the varnish is sufficient for the smooth and easy application of the decals. Some decals are designed to go over 'lumpy' or irregular parts of the tank however, so here you must resort to using Microset and Microsol to assist the decal in 'hugging the detail'. There is a good tutorial on Youtube here. Don't worry if you damage a decal, it can be made to look like further weathering in stages 10-13 - remember they represent painted markings so will be affected by the environment.
  9. Next I paint all the black items - tracks, roadwheels, guns etc, and highlight with german grey. Guns get a gunmetal drybrush in most cases, as do the tracks. Also paint tools, cables and headlights etc. Next comes the weathering.
  10. Bare metal first - areas of chipping along edges, hatch cover edges, etc is gunmetal applied with a brush, and highlighted with silver if necessary. I use a sponge to apply larger areas with a very small amount of paint gently dabbed onto obvious areas where the crew have climbed into the turret or worked on the engine.
  11. Rust is next - generally a brown ink or skin wash generally around joints, edges etc, plus some larger patches using the sponge trick again, especially larger areas of bare metal from stage 10. Highlight with dabs of brown and the occasional fleck of orange (Games Workshop Technical is very good), but be careful, it's easy to overdo this bit. Tracks need attention with the rust effects too - again, a gentle drybrush is usually sufficient to suggest this.
  12. Finally it's mud and dirt or dust. The recipe for thick mud can be found here in one of my earliest posts. Note that I now favour satin varnish on the mud mix so it looks less 'gloopy'. For just dirt try flat earth applied with a sponge.
  13. For dust (and this tends to look better on wheeled vehicles), it's a drybrush with saddle brown or english uniform, flicking it up the sides of the vehicle, bearing in mind the way the wheels and tracks rotate. You can also use the sponge for this. Generally avoid getting any dust or dirt in the tyre treads as this can spoil the illusion. In high summer, or in Mediterranean or Middle Eastern environments, the dust would be much lighter - iraqi sand perhaps or khaki.
  14. Remember you can use stages 10-13 to cover up painting mistakes, or problems with decals.
  15. Finally a protective layer of satin or gloss varnish and finish with a light coat of anti-shine spray.

Here are some examples of other vehicles I've finished:

M3 Stuart - Warlord Games



Stug III Ausf G - Warlord Games




Panther Ausf G - Warlord Games

The German tanks are painted in exactly the same way, except with a Khaki basecoat. Once the camouflage is on and everything is highlighted (usually a khaki and iraqi sand 50/50 mix), washes are as per allied vehicles, but without the black green wash. I have also used Army Painter's Strong Tone to good effect. This is followed with decals and weathering in the same way.

I hope that assists someone, or you find some of the techniques interesting. I can thoroughly recommend getting a sponge from Hobbycraft or The Range, or a specialist art shop, and experimenting with it. As I said at the beginning, these are in no way show-winners, but if you follow the stages above, you will have something that looks reasonably realistic on the tabletop.


Until next time.......