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Back to Basics - Armour painting and weathering guide

for new and returnee modellers. a simple SBS tutorial.

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Mark Chisholm15/08/2011 18:23:04
2692 forum posts
1 photos

Guys – I can see there is a lot of interest in this idea. So let’s get this kicked off.

Questions answered first –

Old Techniques for New Modellers – Very much a case of stepping back in time with this blog. I want you to bear one point in mind regarding painting models – it has all been done before. Despite what you read regarding, filters, pin wash, mapping, oil dot rendering, colour modulation, dry brushing, chipping. All those things are not new – they just have been modernised and given some more trendy names. Model painting has not really changed and all the “older” techniques that all modellers use be it armour, rail and ships still hold true today.

The painting will be using an airbrush – for the base coats. It will be necessary to use an airbrush if you want to follow this tutorial. The brush painting will be used on details and weathering. But of course you could try and use brush painting techniques. I simply am not experienced in brush painting – so I am using an airbrush.

I am going to try and post the steps in a format so they are very easy to refer to. I am going to try and answer everybody’s questions as best I can and of course don’t be shy to ask any questions you have.

I am not going to be using colour modulation, mapping, chipping, hairspray or anything to complex. Although I am a massive fan of Mig and the latest techniques – they are sometimes a bit too complex for starters and returnees.

The aim of the blog will be to paint and weather a model using simpler techniques – that seem to have lost favour currently. Following these older techniques we should have a model that is pleasing to the eye – but not necessarily photo realistic! The techniques are well known and have been show cased by Shep Paine and Francois Verlinden.

This blog will hopefully be a guide to painting and weathering a pleasing model – very much in line with the models that we see in Tamiyas catalogues or similar. I don’t wish to put anyone off – but the techniques will be aimed at highlighting detail and not at being super realistic. But I can promise that if you are new or returning to armour modelling – you will be more than pleased with the finished results – because they are more than achievable and just require a little practice!

I will present the steps with


2) Purpose of technique - why are we doing this

3) Tools - what we need

4) Method of application - how to do it

5) Hints and tips

Introduction – The Model

This is the subject a 1/35th Tamiya model of the M-60 patton. It was started by my brother about 20 years ago and left in the box. I finished it off completely out of the box. It is a typical kit nothing to special. The techniques that are going to be used are really going to be suitable for 48th and 35th scale armour.

The model itself is presented on the box art with a complex camo pattern. I will do my best to depict and explain how to paint that pattern and make it as simple as possible.

Note 1 – The tracks are in situ, they are the vinyl tracks that Tamiya supply. I have fixed them to the running gear and they will have to be painted in situ. This is sometimes the case with some armour models – we would like to paint the tracks separately but in this case we have no choice. If we attempt to paint and weather the vinyl tracks without them being fixed to the model we are likely to have all the paint crack off if we try and fix them to the running gear later.

Note 2 – All the details are in place on the model, there are only 3 sub assemblies – the hull, the turret and the cupola. All the details will be painted in situ. It will be easier for us to learn to paint those details fixed in place. We have less chance of losing the parts and we can improve our detail painting.
Mark Chisholm15/08/2011 20:41:17
2692 forum posts
1 photos


TITLE - Applying the Primer Base Coat
Preparation is the Key !

This is the first and most basic application on painting models. It is recommended that we apply a primer coat on the bare plastic.


The primer will be a key to the paints we apply with the airbrush; it creates a texture for paint to bind into. It also will readily show any surface defects or gaps in the model. It will also seal the very smallest of gaps.

Yes you can airbrush straight onto bare plastic, but having a primer coat just makes things simpler and a lot easier.


Primer Spray Paint
We need a light coloured plastic primer either grey or white. The best product we can buy is from Tamiya or Gunze. It is fine surface primer. I can’t recommend it enough it applies very easily and is a thinned primer. It will not clog up the details.

We can also use an automotive grey or white primer. The key is that it must be suitable for plastics and in a light colour either grey or white.

You need some disposable gloves as you need to handle the model as you spray it with primer. I have a set of washing up gloves that I put on just for when spray painting.


Just make sure all the dust and small particles are brushed off the model and that the area you are working in dust free. One of the best places to do this is outside. You need adequate ventilation because of the fumes from the spray.

Lay out some newspaper on the ground to protect the underlying surface. You need to really make sure the primer spray paint is really mixed up by shaking for a good few minutes.

Split the model into the sub assemblies – this really helps handling. You can hold the hull by putting your fingers into the turret ring.

First spray the paint on the newspaper to check the flow. Now work the spray over the model in very rapid passes. You are aiming to lay on a dust of primer in each pass work the can left to right and up and down. Aim to only prime the topside the hull and let it dry, rest it on the tracks to dry. Walk away for ½ an hour and have a cup of coffee. Now it will be touch dry – but only handle it through the turret ring. Now spray the primer on the lower hull and tracks in misted coats. Rest it upside down to dry. Job done don’t worry to much about 100% coverage of the tracks and running gear. We will cover that later.

Start spraying before the model as above--
move rapidly from the left

finish your spray about here --
it just prevents any runs or too thick a coat.


Keep moving – you need to move the spray can constantly. If you hold it stationary and spray you will creates runs and drips. The way to avoid that is by rapid misting coats.

Keep adjusting – hold the tank in many dimensions. The spray comes out in more or less straight line so you can have “shadows” without primer paint.

Let it dry – don’t touch it for about an hour. The process takes about 5 applications of mist coats with drying time between them.

I have found that the Tamiya fine primer and Mr Surfacer 1000 spray is very user friendly – the primer dries flat and consistent and will not run or cause drips.
a primed model ready for paint



Mark Chisholm15/08/2011 22:53:13
2692 forum posts
1 photos
This video shows a great demo of the technique for applying the primer - go to 4.20 on the player to see the priming. Of course I dont understand a word - but you can see that h is moving rapidy to apply the mist of primer in a controlled action.
Andy Claesens15/08/2011 22:58:12
10986 forum posts
9945 photos
16 articles
Excellent stuff Mark and hats off to you for taking this project on.
I've become set in my ways about how I approach my weathering so I'm looking forward to re-learning stuff that I have got out of the habit of using.
Si Benson15/08/2011 23:48:43
3898 forum posts
974 photos
Hi Mark,
Nice to see this being done.....i would of lapped this up a few years ago...Im still gonna watch this tho

Chris Meddings15/08/2011 23:51:24
9828 forum posts
791 photos
5 articles
Great idea very well presented. Keep it coming Mark
Sticky in 'Basics for Beginners' maybe?
Jamie Ferguson16/08/2011 00:27:20
700 forum posts
304 photos
Hi Mark
Agree with Chris about making this a sticky. It's the kind of thread stickies were meant to be used on
Will be watching
PatrickH16/08/2011 06:41:41
722 forum posts
1680 photos
good idea this, i'll have a proper read later this afternoon after work
Mark Chisholm16/08/2011 07:11:47
2692 forum posts
1 photos
Im glad you like the idea. I hope it will be helpfull to some of the new members of the site. If anyone has any questions or comments - ask away as that is the purpose of this thread.
I was going to do the entire blog in this one thread? good idea or not?
I will get part 2 up tonight.
Stephen16/08/2011 09:12:52
2202 forum posts
1333 photos
Hi Mark
Hope lifes been good to you?
Nice idea mate and i'll definately be following this (always looking for new tips)
Awaiting step 2......

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