Dienstag, 2. Oktober 2012

Step by Step: How to paint a high quality vehicle squadron fast and easy - whole article

Hello my friends, it is tutorial week!
I am proud to present you what is the biggest tutorial I made so far.
I sprayed, painted, sponged and painted again, took tons of photos, edited them and wrote through the nights. And for the first time (because there were many who wished I would do that...) the tutorial will be bilingual! This tutorial is available in English and German language.
To find the German version just click here: Klick mich!

And now lets begin!

They are the centerpieces of many armies, their weapons are the most deadly around, their speed is the base of many tactics and they tower over every infantry model...TANKS!
Nearly every tabletop general comes to a point, when he wants to own one or more tanks and crush his enemies with them.
But painting such a monster can be a very intimidating task,  painting lots of them even more.
Besides showcase painting, I still love to play from time to time and my well known love for vehicles forces me to include them into my armies every time :)
I made a lot experiences during my years of showcase painting and last time I decided to paint a new army, I tried to use them, of cause in a way simpler variant. So I tried around, painted some vehicles with the goal to be as fast as lightning without them looking loveless made. You can find some of my test objects here:
Ork Burna Bommer , chimera transport tank

Of cause not many people have the time and motivation to put 20 hours into a vehicle, that might explode in the first round, but who doesn't love playing with awesome looking models?
So I want to show you how you can paint exactly that awesome models with tolerable time effort.

Every article will show you an aspect of my working process, explaining everything with pictures and explanations, showing the world of "vehicle speed-painting".
Of cause this is just one of countless ways to do the job, maybe it is one you like :)

3 Leman Russ Battle Tanks will be painted for this article.

After this series is finished, they will be available at ebay, so if you fall in love with one or all of them and want to own them, you'll have a chance ;)

Part 1 - The assembly

There are a few essential keys to safe time and be effective while working.
First of all: Know what you do, know the model and how it works.
I studied the instructions of the tank kits (a thing I never do when having time and painting for showcase, because I feel somehow limited then), and thought which parts should be painted separate. I also decided which parts I would clean of mold lines together.

I pinned them on my wall, so they wouldn't fly around my painting table.

The second key is assembly line work.
This concept dates back till the 15th century and works very well.
We know we want to build 3 tanks, and we know there are steps we have to do 3 times. Cleaning, gluing, priming, spraying our first colour, our second...you know what I mean.
So I cut the same piece from every sprue, clean it, take the next and so on. While doing so, you fall into a mindless mode of repeating steps, but you get faster and faster. My first tracks took minutes to be cleaned, after the 10th it was faster and the last tracks were done in no time.
You just know how to handle every part of your kit, a thing that doesn't happen when you build  a full tank and then the next.
Be sure to have some music or a friend to talk with while doing this, because it can get really boring.
However, the saved time is worth it.

Three sprues, ready to work with. Be sure there are just the sprues you work with currently, to avoid a mess and chaos.
I'll show you the tools I used, and what I did with them:

1: A triangle, if you not want to add some scratch-built details, like new lines of rivets and such, you won't need it. I used it to measure, and a steel variant to cut and draw the rivet lines.
2: A brush to clean away the dust and little plastic parts, that always appear while cleaning mold lines and drilling plastic.
3: A few clamps to hold fresh glued parts in space.
4: Just a different sort of clamps, to hold plasticard sheets in place while cutting them (really helpful for small plates)
5: The good old wire cutter, to get the bits out of there sprue.
6: A Drill for weapon muzzles and wholes.
7: A scalpel to clean the mold lines. Be sure you use a new one, for a sharp one will safe time and energy!
8: Rubber bands to hold big things in place when glued.
9: Multitool for drilling, sanding and grinding.

Some tools are not necessary, but nice to have.

A few impressions of my personal assembly line work:

All sides of our tanks are ready before anything is glued.

They all want to be cleaned...

...and when you did that and have everything in order it feels damn good.
Of cause assembly line work doesn't mean we take every track part from every sprue, than the next...no, we know that all track parts are basically the same thing and we'll have to do the same to them. So we take them all out and clean them. They are numbered in this kit, so organizing them was no problem. Thats the concept, choosing groups of bits that will require the same handling and saving time with them.

I also glue same parts together at the same time.

I don't think it is necessary to show more of the building process, for everyone of us did this with a miniature.
Converting your tanks is the best way to double the time you need, a thing many gamers can't effort (either for time it needs or materials used) but we don't have to abandon it!
Squadrons often have a leading vehicle (if not in rules, for sure in their background) and investing a little time in making this one special is an easy way to have something personal in the end.
I decided to add some battle damage and a new plate with self made rivets, a banner (yes, cool tanks have cool banners...at least I think they should ;) ) and a vox unit from GW's command vehicle sprue.

The battle damage:
Be very careful where you put your damage, they look silly, if too much or in the wrong places. Also later paintwork is effected by their position!

I always sketch out my damage, all of it before doing something, so I can check the look of it.

I sanded the plastic down to a very thin level, using my multitool. Always think of your safety while using such a thing, it is possible that something shoots through your room with enough speed to hurt you.

Never forget your safety, without your eyes, painting can be very hard so you should protect them ;)

To check if your plastic is thin enough, hold it against a lamp. If you see the light shining through, it is just right.
Take your scalpel and cut into the thin plastic, bending and twisting it to simulate thinned metal, that rusted, was shot, etc.

Be sure you prime the inside of your tank side before gluing. You will see the inside through our new made hole and spray primer won't reach it afterwards!
Adding new armour parts:
I used a rivet maker by the company Trumpeter and a thin brass sheet. Using the tool is simple, it presses into the material with its teeth, you just press it against the sheet and draw a line where the rivets shall be.

You can also use thin plasticard instead of brass. When you like the look of your plate, just glue it in place.
This is an experiment, as I just got my hands onto this awesome tool. We'll see, how much the rivets will stand out in the end. If they are not strong enough, we at least added a new layer to the back of our hull.

That were todays thoughts about the assembly, nothing new to the world, but things one should have in mind when the goal is time effective working.

Part Two - The basic color

I made a lot of pictures and then realized, it wouldn't be enough to explain everything. So I choose to make a big testing card again, showing you the different stages of the weathering process and the tools I used.
I'll first explain everything with that "dummy" and than move on to the tanks.

Let's start with our materials again:

1: Hairspray
2: Salt. For our gaming model, the normal salt you're cooking with is fine. To add more realism you can also use different sizes of salt grains
3: Purity Seal ( a varnish). Every other brand will work to I guess.
4: Revell Airbrush Cleaner
5: Tamiya X-20A Thinner. This is the only stuff I know, that will thin your Games Workshop colors without clogging your airbrush. (most people out there use the citadel colors) The awesomeness of that stuff was discovered by my friend Zaphod Beeblebrox, check out his blog masterminis !
6: Tamiya colors. I used them to make new experiences, and I am really happy with them. It is hard to describe, but they are just right to airbrush.
7: An airbrush. I use the Gabbert Triplex (from a small German company), but every double action airbrush will do the job.
8: Pipette, to measure the amounts of thinner, fill your airbrush with cleaner, etc.
9: Scalpel...you'll see why :)
10: Stipple brush, just a very hard brush with very short bristles.
I forgot two things in my picture, tooth picks and little shot glasses, to mix the color.

A few thoughts to airbrushing: 
I use low pressure (around one bar) and very thin color (one part color, six parts thinner).
Don't forget to spray some cleaner from time to time, and you can spray for hours without problems. The Tamiya paint is really friendly to lazy artists :)

Todays colors are:

Chaos Black for priming, Tamiya XF-9 Hull Red for the rust tones, XF-4 Yellow Green to mix our highlight color and XF-13 J.A. Green as basic green.

I used an old sheet of plasticard for our exercise. It was primed black, then simply airbrushed with Tamiya XF- 9 Hull Red. (Someone told me, the F stands for flat, so it has a matte finish).
The right part was sealed with Purity Seal, the left part not.

If you seal the color, the next steps won't effect it. You can be sure that your basic rust color will remain as it is...no bad  surprises. But as I forgot the sealing on one of the dozer blades, it happened the result turned out really nice and full of life...in the spots where the rust wasn't removed completely...going on without sealing is gambling with the result.

Next I covered the whole thing with a heavy layer of hairspray. In the lower areas, I added salt. The upper areas are for our other tools. Be sure the hairspray is dry before applying further layers of paint. Again, you can ignore this, the color will crumble and crackle, which looks damn awesome...but will be gone after your first battle. Big potential for showcase painting I guess...

Now we cover the whole area with any color, I choose the green I am using at the tanks. I sprayed several thin layers, and highlighted the middle of the plate with a lighter version (mixed yellow in).
This has to be dry to the touch, but don't wait to long, as we need to remove it...

...REMOVE IT???  Yes, now comes the weathering part! We use some techniques, that will have more or less random results, which adds realism to our paintjob.
We cover the whole plate with steaming hot water. It has to be hot, so the salt will dissolve better (and hot water can hold more salt than cold). This soaks in for a few seconds.
WTF? My color looks...different?
This is normal, after drying, the really strong effect of lighter streaks will disappear.
Now we use a brush (I choose a soft big one, so I would remove the salt, but not to much flakes of color) and brush the salt away. The water soaks through our green paint and loosens it from the brown, because the hairspray prevents the two colors from clinging together.

Small amounts of salt will give you small spots of rust, while big ones will give holes in the green color layer.

With the stipple brush, we can create scratches, stains and so on. There are different ways to use it, brushing in little circles, with different pressure or scraping lines to create scratches.
Just play around and let the coincidence guide you on your first steps :) (Being random can also be a little vacation from planned painting)

The toothpick creates big scratches, that have rusted under the surface for quiet a time.

And the scalpel creates small scratches, really fresh.

So..I told about not sealing...here is the comparison between the results.
You can see that the brown color is dissolved by the hot water where we didn't seal it. The water itself becomes brown and while removing it from the plate that brown pigments spread around...can be quite a mess. But, if you are careful, you have a mixed rusted area, with tones of brown and black, way cooler but very random.

This is the effect if the hairspray wasn't really dry...or you use too much water, I really don't know which of both fails is to blame^^ It looks awesome, but I think it isn't solid enough for gaming...

You can check out the different effects after I tried around a bit.

You'll notice there are some bright, yellowish spots, some even white..I really didn't know how to avoid them, until I found a way to fix that problem. After applying a coat of Purity Seal, the effect was gone.

You may also notice that the overall look has slightly changed. The varnish blends everything together on the coast of some contrast, but knowing this, you can use higher contrast in the first place, to achieve the right degree in the end.

The lower part, where every technique is used and everything comes together, looks really nice in my opinion.

If you are interested in the hairspray technique and weathering and want to know more, check out this links:
MV Weathering Tutorial Part 1
MV Weathering Tutorial Part 2
MV Weathering Tutorial Part 3
MV Weathering Tutorial Part 4
Raffa aka Picster did a great job on those VIDEO TUTORIALS, over at Massive Voodoo. Thanks my friend for allowing me to link your stuff up :)

I'll show you progress pictures of the tanks now, most of the explanation has been done, enjoy and see what can be done :)

The dozer blades are the most damaged parts, tons of rubble and nasty explosions damage the paint of our tanks and rust will spread. So we add the most salt there, and all techniques are used excessive.

The highlights are sprayed in the middle areas. I used two versions of the green, each with a little bit more yellow in it to create some depth.

Different degrees of rust add live to a squadron. Some vehicles are older, some crews are first to pass a clogged street first all the times. Don't worry about that yellowish stains, the Purity Seal will let them vanish...

and thats the finished green on our dozer blades.

I try to keep the shades, so I just spray very little or no color to recesses. Again, the middle of every plate receives the most paint.

It can be very useful to attach your parts to some socket, so you don't have to touch the paint. Without sealing it the paint removes easy, and we don't want to have fingerprints and all the green at our hands.

Edges are areas, where the paint will be gone very soon after the tank left the factory. You can use your brush, or a scalpel to wipe the green paint of. (Be careful with the scalpel, to much pressure and you see plastic)

The turrets after sealing...

Some closeup to show what I mean with middle areas. The recesses and shadow areas received less color then the middle, where most light would hit.

We use the salt most in the lower areas, where rubble will damage the paint.

The contrast between light and shadow areas after two highlight colors.

We can ignore the yellowish spots, but where we see pure white, we have to clean again. Use hot water, again and again until no white spots are left. The puirty Seal won't cover them!

...so that all looks quite messy. Now lets have a look on the final results after sealing with Purity Seal.

And the yellowish spots are gone :)

I think they look impressive already...

 And don't forget to take a break from time to time, or else such a project drives you mad ;)

Part 3 - The camo

Todays colors are Tamiya XF-57 Buff (the beige basis tone) and Tamyia XF-2 Flat White (to mix the highlight color)

Again, we start with our nice friend, the testing card. He will accompany us till the end of the article :)

We also need our scalpel and some kind of masking tape.
I cut my camo pattern while the tape is glued to my cutting map, so it looses some of his stickiness (this prevents the tape from ripping our basic color off, where the priming wasn't perfect)

I cut a pattern I used a lot of times, so I am used to it and know, what I am doing. If you never did such a thing before, just look at some pictures from real tanks, artbooks and codizes. The Imperial Armour Books also provide a wide range of camo patterns.

Again we use hairspray and salt...now comes the very important part, that will add realism to the job.
We sprinkle the salt in the places, where our basic color is already damaged. This will blend the two colors together, preventing hard cuts where rust should be. This is also the point to cover mistakes, by simply not adding salt and hiding them forever ;)
Of cause, we also sprinkle salt where no rust is, to show the second color was damaged, but the first hasn't been yet.

Now just repeat yesterdays steps. It is a good idea to remove the tape after washing the salt away! There are tiny flakes of white flying around and we avoid them sticking to our green.
And never...I really mean NEVER use the water tap...it rips and tears the color away.

And thats how it looks after removing the tape.

Thats nice but...well its not right yet.
Now we use our stipple brush, our toothpick and our scalpel. Scrape the camo away where big spots of rust are, scratches that hide under the camo we just renew. With a little patience, we create a good looking weathering, way faster than by painting everything with the brush.

Better, isn't it?

Now let's do that stuff on one of our tanks ;)

We'll start with the dozer blade.

The stipple brush is very useful to stick the tape to edges.

You can see how I protect the rusted areas with salt.

A few pictures of the covered tank:

You may notice there isn't much new today, but it's really just yesterdays techniques used again and if you use them more often, it becomes easier and faster :)
Don't be scared of the end result,don't have thoughts like that is just stuff cabinet painters do. To tell the truth, is really simple and absolutely no magic. Take a few test models or sheets of plasticard and practice and you will reach this level ;)

No let's have a look on todays result:

Part 4 - Painting the tracks

First, there is a golden rule I forgot, you might remember from the first article:
Yes, I also do this stuff while painting. Spray all dozer blades, all turrets, all hulls. This allows me to mix great amounts of color without wasting them.
And again, the not thinking just doing mode!

I cut all the camo before applying it to one tank:

This will fasten up your progress.

The tracks where masked with tape again.

No we spray GW Leadbelcher, thinned with Tamyia Thinner. (This stuff is awesome, also when painting with the brush.)
Take a sheet of paper to protect the untaped ares.

Two layers of GW Seraphim Sepia add depth and color to our tracks. It's not the best method around, but it's damn fast.

And to close todays post, the squadron all together in actual status:

Part 5 - Decals, Oil and pigment

The last days were a hard road to walk, my illness made work unpleasant and my camera had a problem with the software...some pictures of the wip process were lost and some private stuff kept my mind busy.
 I'll try my best to explain the things I did the best I can, using the pictures that survived.

First I painted all the sponson weapons,search lights and smoke launchers using the known techniques.
I used an nearly empty roll of double sided tape to hold them all together.

Tape Wheel of Doom...

I primed everything with chaos black spray, airbrushed a basic color of Hull Red and a layer oh hairspray.

And now the first pics are missing. The next step is to cover everything in green (we don't need salt on those little bitz). Then the stipple brush creates rusted edges and little spots of rust, releasing the paint with hot water.
The metal parts of the tank and weapons were painted with GW Lead Belcher and then washed with GW Seraphim Sepia (like the tracks).

The search lights were taped and and airbrushed with chaos black. Then I added very thin layers of blue tones, beginning with regal blue up to a mix of regal and ice blue. every layer covers a smaller area. Then everything is covered with Gw Ard'Coat. (gloss coat)

The next step was to add some decals. I used the imperial tank sheet and the cadian troops sheet.

Cut out the decal you want to use. There are plenty ways to use them, here is mine.

I lay the decal on a finger, wet it with a small brush until it moves around on its paper.
Then I just take it with the brush, put it into place with a great amount of water to move it there, until it fits. Then take a dry brush and take the water away. It is important not to touch the decal itself, cause it can move while being touched.

I used numbers to add a feeling of ranks in the squadron and symbols and writings to add life.

Now I use two layers of GW Lamyian Medium to seal the decal.
After this is dry, I use the scalpel to scratch little parts away and create a realistic appearance.



If you don't seal your decal, the scalpel will just rip away everything.
After scraping, add another two layers of Lamyian Medium.

Then the final touches with oil colors come.

Here is what we need:
White Spirit to thin the oil color, burnt umber to create rust streaks and dirt and a brush you should never use again with your acrylics ;)
Everything that is waterproof will do as palette, I use a packing part, but also own a big wooden palette and painted on cigarette packages when traveling around. It really doesn't matter.

I use very thinned color

Cover everything with a heavy wash of oil.

Use a clean brush and white spirit to remove the oil color, where you don't want it. You can work with it for hours. vertical brush strokes will create streaks of rust.

The oil will change the overall color and effect, depending on your basic color and the varnish you used.
I couldn't find out yet, when the oil color will disappear without impact on the paint job and when it will work as filter, I just do and make the best of it. No mistakes, just happy accidents ;)

I wipe off most of the paint in flat areas, leaving a touch of it (just a thin shade) at the edges and a little stain here and there. Just  try it, you will get the hang really fast.
I use tons of white spirit right on the model, removing it (with color dissolved) with a clean brush ( I clean him out on a paper towel, so he gets dry) or pushing the liquid into the recesses to shade them.

I let the color dry for about 20 minutes before starting the removing process. This will allow the color that gathers around rivets and in the recess lines to stick to that areas, when the white spirit hits the model.

Then I start to clean the areas up

And another picture to show the difference between oiled areas and the rest

After this is dry to the touch, I add black weathering powder to the exhausts and gun muzzles. No pics of this, but you simply take a dry brush and add the powder to the model.
This was the final step, everything was covered with two layers of Lamyian Medium afterwards.

I didn't finish the banner, but I think the squadron looks nice without it.

Now here are the final results.
Beware, many pics ;)

I had a lot of fun with these babies and I really hope you learned something of use for you.
If you try out some of this, I would be happy if you would show me the results :)
In the end, the whole squadron took between 10 and 15 hours, but the greatest part was article writing, taking a lot of photos till they were right and editing them. I think the goal of being fast with a nice result was reached.

Here are the Cmon-Links:
 Tank 3
 Whole Squadron

And of cause, the Ebay-Links:

I wish you all good night, I am gonna recover a few days now :)