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AFV Painting & Weathering
Answers to questions about the right paint scheme or tips for the right effect.
Weathering Armor (I stink)
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Wisconsin, United States
Joined: April 17, 2002
KitMaker: 2,314 posts
Armorama: 1,905 posts
Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - 11:51 AM UTC
Fellow Armorama.com modelers.

Iíve got a question that probably seems trite, but Iíve really hit a plateau with a certain aspect of my armor modeling, so I thought Iíd run it out here and ask for your help.

The problem is my continuing inability to improve my weathering techniques. Iíve tried to improve myself with practice, by reading weathering articles, and also just picked up a Verlinden book as a resource, but as they say, ďyou can lead a horse to water, but you canít make him drinkĒ.

I model US armor and US military vehicles from WW2 to present. I use Badger and Tamiya acrylic paints applied with a dual action Aztec airbrush, i.e. paint and air flow control. My compressor runs around 25psi, and I control paint and airflow with the brush.

After application of an appropriate base color, I flow diluted raw umber wash, (or something dark), around seams, hatches, road wheels etc. to accentuate them. So far so good.

The problem starts when I try to build layers (or depth), on the bodies of the vehicles. This is difficult to explain, but it seems when I try to apply lightened base coat colors for some contrast, Iím really not getting contrast. When Iím weathering, I dilute the paint and airbrush it on, but it puddles upon application. If I apply the paint full strength it has a tendency to completely cover the base coat, (even when Iím trying to control paint and airflow with the brush).

Moving away from the airbrush, Iíve tried multiple washes using different dilutions of mud, dust, and dirt acrylics, but the layering of these washes results in a splotchy, unbelievable film over the base coat. Iím basically at the point where I use the airbrush to apply dust, mud, dirt etc to fenders, road wheels, etc, but all my vehicles basically wind up looking the same. I want to improve.

When I see the paint/weathering quality that comes from forum posts from members of this site, I literally fall out of my chair with admiration. Iíd like to work towards achieving that expertise in my modeling.

The photo quality is not very good, but Iíve got a couple of tanks on the MSN armorama site under WeWillHold. The M46 and M47 are representative of what most of my models look like. As you can see, my modeling, (and photo skills), need work. Any tips would be greatly appreciated, and thanks in advance for your advice.

I love this site!

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Florida, United States
Joined: December 27, 2001
KitMaker: 4,268 posts
Armorama: 2,804 posts
Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2002 - 12:54 PM UTC
Try not to use the AB for weathering. (for now at least) It seems like you're trying to achieve too much with you AB.
A wash is generally used for adding depth to the model by "darklighting" the recesses. i.e. panel lines, bolts... A wash is not a good method for applying dirts and the worn look. It makes the model look like it drove through dirty water.
Stick to the more conventional ways to get the dirts, dust, and rusts.
A simple system that I use is as follows: Though certainly not etched in stone.
Base color applied with AB. (I will sometimes AB a lighter shade of the base in the center of panels avoiding the panel's lines, to create a little depth)
Gloss coat applied with AB.
Apply decals and seal them in with another light gloss coat with the AB
Apply the wash.
Drybrush in several steps of increasing lighter shades of the base color.
Apply flat coat with AB.
Apply pastels to mimic dust and light coats of dirt around road wheels and lower hull.

I know I did not get into too much detail with each of these steps but, I hope it gives you a bit of a plan or outline for achieving a weathered look to your models.
If you need more specifics for any one step, ask away.
Good luck and let us know how you make out.
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Massachusetts, United States
Joined: May 05, 2002
KitMaker: 8,074 posts
Armorama: 3,293 posts
Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2002 - 12:02 AM UTC
What Ken said. :-)
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Pennsylvania, United States
Joined: June 04, 2002
KitMaker: 1,580 posts
Armorama: 0 posts
Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2002 - 01:44 AM UTC
I took a lok at your models in your MSN/Groups/Armorama gallery. I think they look just fine. I have a couple of ideas that I use that you might want to consider.
First, I used to try to weather using washes and drybrushing. I now use these methods only to add depth and highlights to a model. What I'm trying to do is exaggerate what is happening naturally on full scale items. I never do a wash with black. I think it's too intense. I try to figure a color that compliments the base color on the model. Usually, I would use sepia on olive drab. This is just a dark brown with a little black mixed in to deepen the color. You have the choice of flooding the entire model with this or doing a more controlled wash in the corners, seams, engine deck screens, etc.. For the highlights, I try yo use a lighter version on the base color. I usually mix some of the base color into white to get this but I never use straight white. It's too stark and unnatural looking. I trying to make it look like the catch points for natural light. Look at most anything and you can see where and how the light catches on corners. This also works for large flat surfaces.
For weathering, I like to use pastels. When you rub then on sandpaper, they create such a fine powder, it's almost like dust and dirt in scale. I try to apply this in a logical manner on the model. More down low, less up top. And I try not to make it too evenly distributed. I will put more in low traffic areas and less in high traffic areas. I even rub it off in small spots with my finger. The natural body oils give it a nice sheen. I think an even coating doesn't look natural. I use a pastel color that would be appropriate for the terrain the vehicle would naturally be in. Like a red/brown for a Vietnam model. Using a couple of different shades also adds nice variations to the model.
For exhaust and gun blast stains, I mix blue and black pastels together. This gives an oily look to the areas I apply them.
Another thing I like is adding stowage. It gives it more life. Espesially something with a splash of color.
If you like, check out my Sherman in my MSN/Groups/Armorama gallery under Mongo_Mel's figures.
I hope this is helpful to you.
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Wisconsin, United States
Joined: April 17, 2002
KitMaker: 2,314 posts
Armorama: 1,905 posts
Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2002 - 12:09 PM UTC
Thanks for your comments, as I appreciate the time you taken to help me out. I'm going to give your methods a try on a Tamiya M8 that I've just built.

I goofed up the weathering, so I've cleaned it up, and I'm starting over using your suggestions. Thanks again.

ps: I checked out your work, ---- well done!