Step 1: Surface primer
There are a lot of possibilities and products you can use.
For kits just made with plastic, a nice coat of grey or even black (or white) is sufficient (but never forgets to clean the plastic parts with water and detergent!).
But in multi-media kits, special care should be taken with metal and aluminum parts. Special primers should be applied on these elements to avoid undesirable problems when we´re working on them. I use to employ Gunze Metal primer just over metal parts and once dried, Tamiya primer (applied with an airbrush) all over the vehicle.
Step 2: Grey Base Color
I used a grey base color made with Tamiya´s XF-25 (sea grey) and XF-1 (black). I highlighted the base color using XF-2 (white) and more XF-25 until I get the desired color. I used Lacquer Thinner and as usually, I applied the paint in several fine coats.
Deliberately, I slightly changed the color of some parts and surfaces to achieve a more rich global appearance.
Step 3: Dunkel Braun Ral 7017
This typical early war color was made mixing H-406 Brown Chocolate and H-79 Sand Yellow from Gunze Sangyo. I applied the paint in cloud-shape spots approximately on 1/3 of the vehicle surface with soft edges. I was really worried about this color as I wanted some contrast with the grey. The final Dunkel Braun I applied to the kit was significantly lighter than my real references but sometimes, we have to choose between been absolutely historical accurate or been more unrealistic but attractive (for my taste). I confess, I always choose attractive solutions!
For further steps, this is the most important step. All the details, the different textures, surfaces became to life now.
First at all, a nice coat of Tamiya´s Clear is applied all around the vehicle to facilitate the washes.
For this step, I used my habitual mix of Tamiya´s brown and black. The way you work making pin up washes using enamel and acrylic products are completely different. With enamel paints, I personally do not take too much care applying the paint. I do it in a quick way and I make the entire tank at the same time. Once I finish applying the washes, I start to retire it carefully detail to detail with a brush damped with thinner. As enamels paints dries in 2-3 days, I can make a lot of retouches here and there. So, this is a stressful job.
Steep 5: Tutti-Frutti
I honestly do not know how to call this step!!!!!
I’m no expert in art and even less of the theory of light and color. Calling it a particular way would be foolhardy on my part. So, you can call this step the way you want!
Once the pin washes have been conscientiously applied in every detail all over the kit, we can safely say we know every corner of the tank. While applying these washes, I was recognizing textures, shapes, materials, details, functions of each element ….
With the acrylic modulation, using acrylic paints, perfect for this task, it´s time to add personality and, why not, color, to these small parts. These parts, would have probably gone unnoticed without the pin wash.
So, using acrylic paints, we start highlighting these small details in order to obtain an attractive color result. Why do I paint in this way? These are my reasons (maybe true for me but questionable for others!)
- The light is not reflected in the same way on a smooth surface or on a rough surface.
- On horizontal surfaces, dust detracts the base color. The dust hardly accumulates on vertical or very inclined plates. Sloping surfaces are those that receive more light.
- In vertical or inclined surfaces, dirt tends to accumulate in the lower parts of the plates.
- On mobile elements, like hatches, fuel caps, box tops, tools, dust accumulation is inversely proportional to the use of these elements, so, their colors use to be more vivid that surrounding static surfaces.
With the following weathering steps, the “tutti-frutti” appearance of the vehicle will be reduced to slightly and subtle differences. For my personal taste, these subtle color variations all around the tanks give it a really attractive “eye-catching” aspect to our kit.
Step 6: Chipping and tools (picture 08)
Not too much to say about this step. My intention is to make a battered operative vehicle. In fact, Initial Pz IV had a few years of operative life before WW·II.
Chips are made using a highlighted base colors for the superficial chips and scratches and a mix of red and black (50-50) acrylic paints for the deepest. Wood chips and scratches were made using sand color.
I also applied a very vivid base color for the tools and the decals. The tanks starts to seems a tank!
I painted the tools and accessories using Vallejo colors, trying to highlight some parts of the elements to have a more attractive result. For the wood parts I used two different mixes (all from Vallejo paints range)
Mix 1: Weathered wood + Buff + Light grey
Mix 2: Light rust + Buff + Orange
Metal parts were primary painted in black. Then, I applied graphite with a pencil. Finally, using different oils shades (dust, rust), I managed to get an battered taste for the tools.
Step 7: Oils
Once again, not too much to say in this step! We never must forget classical techniques as they´re unbeatable for some kind of works!
Once again, we look for some chromatically rich appearance using oleos. Also, we start the weathering with some fading effects in selected places.
Some colors starts to get less vivid. “Tutti Frutti” begins to have a more subtle appearance, but the minimal color variations still are visible. The best results using “tutti-frutti” are achieved when you do not see it! It´s perfect when so is there, obviously there, but it´s nice and natural to your eyes, not “artificial”
Step 8: Dust!
8.1.- Preliminary works. Dust base
To begin this step, I previously applied a nice coat of Marabu matt varnish to protect previous works.
Dusting a kit is a terrifying work. All previous work can be really ruined if we´re not able to make a realistic and attractive dusting. The real problem is … that the real dust over tanks, over our cars, over our cabinets … is dull. Very very dull.
If our choice is to make a visually and attractive kit and you have spent hours and hours applying the techniques explained above, the same care and the same grade of exigency regarding color richness must be take here.
A nicely dusted kit is not a kit full of dust. The objective should not be filled with a lot of dust over our kit model, but the sense of being!. And the feeling in a dusty kit is achieved in the contrast between clean and dusty surfaces. So, we must study strategically the places where the dust will be more effective.
These are the steps I followed to apply the dust:
- Mix 20% of XF-57 thinned with Tamiya enamel thinner (blue plug)
- Airbrush this mix using low pressure with not too much paint in to strategically previously selected places. The result must have some parts full of dust close to clean parts to strengthen the sense of dust. Do not try to make all the dust at the same time, just do it with love and care, little by little. This is the crucial step. Think carefully where and how much dust you´ll add to each place.
- After waiting 5-10 minutes, remove the excess of paint with a brush damped in thinner like when you´re making a pin wash. I like this technique as you can retouch the dust even days after if you´re not completely happy with the result.
- Repeat all the process until you get the desired result.
- In order to protect the Tamiya´s dust base paint, add again some matt varnish before changing this dull base color using again enamels or oleos. This is not necessary if you´re using Vallejo Acrylic paint for changing base color.
Once this step is finished, we have a completely different kit. The dust is bored (just one dust color by now), the base color, the washes, oleos … have lost so much importance and visual impact. Now, we start to worry about the final result!
8.2.- Finishing the dust
After applying a nice coat of matt varnish from Marabu, I started making some tonal variations with acrylic paints (dark mud, buff, Iraqi sand and black) to the airbrushed dust base color. Acrylic paint is specially valuable on vertical surfaces.
The result was still unrealistic (for my taste), so, I decided to use oils to get much more richer horizontal surfaces contrasts with dust. I also applied some “extra” dirt (grease, asphalt oil paint is really great to simulate grease, adding some gloss varnish ) to some surfaces prone to be specially dirty.
Step 9: Mud
A really terrifying step for a lot of modelers. There are a lot of ways to make realistic mud. You can use plaster mixed with resin and pigments, you can use putty to simulate the muddy surface … and you can also use the new products available in the market.
Mud in a pot is a really nice “mud in a pot” product. It´s completely acrylic and can be mixed and colored with Vallejo paints very easily. You can also add some grains of sand from different diameters in order to get a more attractive final look. Other excellent products are available, as new Tamiya Texture paints. They work exactly in the same way, but you can only use Tamiya acrylics to change the base color. I use both companies “mud” and I just can say that they´re excellent!
- Applying the product: … awfull step … nightmares at night … will I be able to get a nice result from this?
- Airbrushed Tamiya´s enamel buff… may be this is getting better?
- Cleaning the dust… using, as usually, a brush damped with thinner
- Oils: … using ochre, burnt sienna and black, I change the base buff colour in order to get more realistic (realistic or aesthetic?) results and look. This is the REAL question. Shall we make realistic or attractive weathering? No answers!! Just your taste!!!
Step 10: Tracks:
These are the different steps I did to paint the tracks:
- Primer base coat over the friul tracks previously washed with soap.
- Using a 80% Brown Earth + 15% Panzer grey + 5% Red mix, I applied the tracks base colour.
- I added some colour variation to the tracks adding buff, black and red in order to get a more attractive appearance.
- Using a sponge and Vallejo acrylic colours (rust colours), I added some rust randomly to the tracks.
- Using different rust oils colours (from light to dark nearly black), I added some filters randomly to the different links.
- A nice coat of Marabu matt varnish is airbrushed to protect previous works.
- Using oleos again, I added mud to the tracks in the same way as the hull and wheels.
Step 11: Final touches
Yes, I know, this is a generic step but it´s the most important step. Once you have the model finished, you start to look at it again and again trying to find weak points, undesired fingerprints, residual solvents spots … and also repeating some steps like pin washes, adding some more dirt here and there, cleaning some parts overdone, so on.
In this final step, I also applied some graphite to simulate bare metal on some specifically places to simulate crew´s abrasion. I recommend 4B pencils for this task.