Effective Pigments

Armor Modeling Today
Earth tones and effects such as dust and mud have become more accepted among armor modelers over the recent years. Modelers are now devoting more time and thought both to the research and realistic application of earth tones and effects on military models. Let me start this article by discussing some of my thoughts regarding these effects.

There are still a number of armor modelers protesting the use of dust and mud. These individuals dispute large amounts of mud stating that it can be used to cover mistakes. Others quarrel that the increasing use of earth tones with their effects have resulted in a loss to the “artistic appearance” of armor models over the past years.

Of course large amounts of mud can be used to hide mistakes on a model but this can cause other problems. Attempting to hide mistakes with earth colors and texture might cause people to loose the freedom of their application in an attempt to hide these errors. I have personally labeled this problem as “Chasing the Finish”, and this may affect the quality of the completed model. My recommendation to avoid Chasing the Finish is to simply construct each model carefully and with attention to detail prior to painting regardless of the amount of earth colors and mud texture that you intend to apply. This will give you complete freedom in applying the earth tones and mud texture allowing for the best results on your completed model.

I completely disagree with modelers arguing that earth colors and mud have subtracted from the artistic appearance of models. First of all, we are simply talking about personal opinions in regard to what is an artistic model. We have been spending large amounts of our disposable income on after-market accessories and protesting about minute flaws in the new kits released for many years now. Our spending and protests have been with the hopes of having the easiest and quickest opportunity to construct the most accurate replica possible. Armor modelers today are now simply placing this same importance on the finish including earth tones and effects again in an attempt to achieve the most accurate replica possible.

I strongly feel that applying earth tones and mud in a realistic and effective manner is indeed challenging requiring both time and research. But if effectively applied, earth tones and effects such as mud will help add life and history to a model greatly improving its authenticity. The recent work published in the magazines and posted on the web will quickly draw one to conclude that many other modelers now feel the same about the application of mud and earth colors. I think that the appearance of armor models as a whole has improved resulting from an increasing emphasis on careful research and application of both earth colors and mud. Obtaining the most realistic looking model, despite how much earth-tones and mud have been applied, is in my opinion, the secret to the true art and the fun one obtains through armor modeling.

In this article I will demonstrate, with the aid of pictures shown on the right, how to obtain two types of different earth effects on to your armor models using some running gear parts for the example. I am first going to display the steps I use to achieve a dry dusty appearance containing limited dust and minute dry-mud texture. In the second part of this article I will demonstrate how to get a convincing muddy appearance with lots of texture. I will also briefly discuss the importance of the mud texture applied to the track and its affect to the rest of a model as a whole. I hope to give the reader a better understanding as to how he/she can research and obtain convincing mud texture particularly onto the running gear of their models.

To start, the hues of the earth-tones and mud will differ depending on the theater in which your replica is supposedly present. This is of course up to the modeler to research. In the case of the two examples in this article, I will be using earth tones observed in photos more toward Eastern Europe. I used two examples from the same area to let you focus more on the mediums and steps needed to obtain more convincing dusty as well as muddy vehicles. You will see that the muddy vehicles I create simply include a few more steps over most of the processes used to create dusty AFV’s containing limited mud. Therefore, let us start with the steps used to weather a dusty vehicle.

Obtaining a Dusty Appearance to the Running Gear of an Amour Model
The earth tones and effects used in the first example were referenced from the color photos of Russian vehicles on operations in Chechnya. Other color photographs in the Missing Lynx Think Tank here were also studied.

The Czech 38T focused in the first segment of this article was weathered to have a dusty appearance in an urban setting. Observation of the 38T shows the model to be dusty with the chips still evident on the running gear and hull. Note how the tracks are dusty and polished with limited mud texture. The examples in the step-by-step pictures for this part of the article are a T-34 wheel and some Friulmodel Steyr tracks. The steps and mediums used in these photos are identical to the ones used to weather the entire 38T.

In one picture we can see two painted wheels. Both of the wheels were airbrushed using acrylic paints. A few coats of Vallejo Air Satin Varnish were then applied, again with an airbrush, to protect the acrylic base coat from the enamel washes used in the upcoming weathering steps. The wheel on the left has chips and other effects while the one on your right only contains a base-coat with a few washes applied. The left wheel is going to be used for our dusty example. You will want to have the chips evident under the dust.

creating the mixture
In the first four pictures, I am mixing the base color for the earth tones. Tamiya acrylics are perfect for this step. Tamiya acrylics are easy to airbrush and provide a nice matt coat. This matt coat will also provide you with a good surface for the pigments to adhere to.

I always mix the colors in small disposable clear plastic containers as seen in the photos. I start with a base of Tamiya buff and add small amounts of German Grey and Red Brown slowly working up to the earth color tone I desire. I then add isopropyl alcohol to thin the acrylic paints for airbrushing. It is very important that you thin the paint properly to help you obtain a nice faint coat.

I think the Tamiya paint to about three parts paint and four parts alcohol. Slowly tilt the clear container back and forth to see how quickly the paint runs down the side as seen in the picture. How quick the paint runs down the containers side will give you an understanding as to how diluted it is. Over time you will form your own liking as to how thin you want the paint for use in your airbrush.

Spray the base-coat very lightly and randomly onto the wheels and model as displayed in photo four. Remember, we are only applying a light coat of dust. It could be very easy for one to overdue this step quickly nullifying all of the time he/she spent adding those nice paint chips.

Applying pigments
After airbrushing the light coat of dust I apply pigments. For eastern European tanks I generally apply a mixture of the three colors displayed in the fifth picture. It is important to remember that color 026 Copper Rust is now sold as Concrete Dust. I usually place the pigments into a tin separator and mix them to my liking. I used the light dust as a base then added the dry mud and Copper Rust until achieving my preferred hue. Again, reference color photos when ever possible.

Break your model into imaginary sections. Apply your dust color to the model one section at a time using an old brush. It is better if you apply light amounts of pigments slowly working up to your desired amount instead of adding too much. After applying the pigments blend them using turpentine. This is where the importance of the satin varnish coat applied before the Tamiya earth base comes into play. Applying this step to one section of the model at a time gives you better control of how much dust you are adding to the model.

After the turpentine has had time to evaporate you can remove the excess pigments using a ridged brush leaving a dusty appearance. The last picture displays the wheel completed. The chips are still evident under the dust adding to the finished appearance. Some old grease was also added. You can also apply more pigments to the wheel using a dry brush if you are not completely satisfied with the finish.

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About Adam N P Wilder (ANPW)