Friday, September 2, 2011
After the obligatory straightening of bent parts and washing in warm water with some citric acid based cleaner I assembled everything. Pretty straight forward. Had to use balls of putty to attach the arms and fill gaps afterwards. Wasn’t too much hassle but for the average modeller it could be a bit daunting. Forgeworld stuff definitely requires patience.
I sprayed it all with K&H etch primer for non-ferrous metals. This is an Aussie primer intended for brass but it works wonders for white metal and resin. It microscopically etches and attaches itself to the model thus it’s a perfect primer. It’s white and quite thin so I often follow up a day later with chaos black spray or equivalent.
The key to this army was the use of an airbrush. I purchased one from Chicago Airbrush Supply. Great prices and service. I got a Paasche Talon with 3 tips. My Grandad used to airbrush ceramics and I have inherited his workshop and gear so I already had a compressor and air tank. I just attached a moisture trap and was ready to go.
I had only used an airbrush on rare occasions before this army but was knowledgeable on their functions and use. There are many guides out there about that stuff. It’s a pretty big topic in itself. I am mostly working at 20 to 30 psi and used the .38mm tip. I got some Vallejo Model Air paints for this project and that was also a first. I am very impressed with them.
I airbrushed an undercoat of German Grey on the whole army except the horses. I then mixed in some white and went back over at a higher angle, leaving the recesses dark. On the tanks this wasn’t so pronounced. I always add a few drops of Vallejo Model Air dilutent to aid flow. It seemed to work, not sure if this is a requirement.
For the infantry I mixed a 70/30 German grey/white mix and focussed on the fatigues, using the double-action trigger to lay down thin coats and blend. I then did a final pure white layer in the same fashion. This made white so much easier to do than If I had brush painted it. In the end I did do a final brush layer highlight with thinned white.
The pants were Charadon granite, the guns and pouches Catachan green and the belts etc Calthan brown and Scorched brown. These were all washed with Badab black and then re highlighted back up with their original colour, mixing in either white or bleached bone for successive highlights. The gas masks were given a really thin glaze of Scorched brown after the highlights to add depth and enrich the colour. The armour and metal is a custom mix of Chaos black and Boltgun metal. It was washed with a 50/50 mix of Badab black and Gryphonne sepia followed by Chainmail/Mithril silver chips. The idea is that they stripped and blackened their armour chemically.
The mud on their trenchcoats and boots is a mix of finely sifted real dirt and a mix of craft paints that I made to match the dirt colour. I also mixed in some artist texture paste. It was then stippled and drybrushed on. I tried to be subtle rather than just slap it on. It pays to look at photos of real soldiers and look at how their fatigues get dirty. I put some of the mix on knees as they would often kneel to fire.
I used a mix of gravel/sand from the gutter on the bases. It got grey when I did the airbrushing but I did wash it with some thin black. The spaces between was painted with the mud mix and then thinly washed with some black to make it darker i.e wetter. The static grass is a 80/20 mix of Woodland Scenics Burnt grass and Harvest Gold.
The snow is Woodland scenics made into a paste with some PVA and carefully painted on and shaped to form drifts.
The tanks and Hades drill started off with their German Grey undercoat. Highlighted as mentioned before with a bit of white mixed in and using the airbrush to blend.
I then gave them a coat of gloss from a spray can and then two of airbrushed Vallejo Matte. This is key as it protects the underlying paint coat. In the past I have used the hairspray technique on a basecoat that had dried for a week or more and not had to do this. Acrylic actually takes a while to fully set and the polymers fix although it dries in minutes.
I gave them a couple of days to dry just to be sure and then sprayed them with a thin coat of hairspray. The more budget/cheap types are best as they are basically just water soluble acrylic varnishes.
There are many variables to this technique including amount of hairspray, surface texture of the underlying paint coat and amount of time the following paint coat is allowed to dry. That is why some test pieces are a must. The rougher the surface the smaller the chips will be. If too much hairspray is used the paint comes off more easily. That is why I did the two coats of matte varnish; it gives a rougher surface. The ideal situation for tiny chips is using a matte primer on the model that has slight texture to it ( unlike GW chaos black), painting on a base coat, letting that dry for a couple of weeks and then doing the hairspray technique. That’s what I did on my Baneblade and I was amazed at the tiny chips possible.
After the thin spray of hairspray had dried for about an hour I airbrushed on some Vallejo Model Air white. You can also play with the opacity and shading here to create really thin coats that represent nearly completely washed off whitewashes. If you do a completely opaque (not see-through) layer the chips will be more pronounced. I let that dry for about 30 mins.
The next step is to use short stiff bristled brushes dipped in warm water to scrub the paint off. This part is completely subjective to the technique of the user; Pressure, angle and amount of water can play a part. I didn’t need much water at all; in fact the brushes were barely damp. Look at photos of real tanks to see where the paint rubs off and think about rain in terms of the winter whitewash as that would affect how it comes off compared to normal chips. It certainly pays to use scrap parts or Plasticard to practice this technique.
You can see on the Vanquisher that I put on a thicker coat of white than the Exterminator and thus the paint chips are more defined.
I frequently washed my brush to get rid of the removed paint but noticed an interesting side effect of the scrubbing that left slight ridges of white on the edges of the chips that almost looks as if I had highlighted them. Happy mistake I guess.
After they were chipped to my satisfaction I left them to dry. I went a step further to reinforce the idea that the winter white was washing off. I used an airbrush and really thin white to add thin coats over some of the chipped areas as well as creating downwards strokes to represent the action of rain. I also did some work with thin white paint and a brush to create some more depth and glaze over the chipped areas.
The rust and dirt stain marks are all done with GW washes and thinned paint. I often mix other paints into GW washes in a rather hap-hazard manner on my palette. This was all done taking care to be subtle and think about where the rain might affect the tank and run off. Just remember that there is that hairspray coat underneath and if you are too frisky with the brush it might start to allow the white to come off where you don’t want it. A coat of matte might help here but I was just careful. Military modellers often do a gloss coat and then use oil based washes and glazes but I couldn’t be bothered with all that faff. I much prefer acrylics with some flow improver or mixed pre-prepared washes for gaming tanks.
I used the same mud mixture on the track and splattered up the hull as from the infantry. Really thin black darkened some areas to make them look wetter. I also sprinkled on some finely sifted earth and applied some snow mix as a final step.
Final step for the army was a coat of Ardcoat and a couple of airbrushed layers of Matte.
If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask. I hope this is interesting and provides you with some useful tips. I’m sorry I don’t have time for a photographic step by step tutorial.
This is where I got all the insight and info on the Hairspray Technique: