|The Rhani of Yhanzi march next to the T-26.|
A while back I posted my efforts at repurposing a 1:35 scale Russian T-26 for use by the human elements during the Thorn Moon Crusade. After some deliberation, I decided to try painting it using some scale model techniques, primarily involving various oil paints and some enamels. For one reason or another, there seems to be somewhat of a gulf between scale model (tanks, airplanes, trains, etc.) painting and miniature wargame painting. Possibly this is because GW’s line of paints are all acrylic ones, and are the easiest to find if you are already involved in the wargaming hobby. While it was quite a learning experience, I am glad to report the tank is complete, and wanted to talk a little about the painting process.
|The first three stages of the painting process.|
Initially, the tanks was primed grey, before airbrushing the entire surface black, followed by Dark Green RLM71 (Vallejo Model Air 71.015). Before painting it the final green, I preshaded all of the broad armor panels by lightly spraying white in the center of each panel. This helped modulate the final green color when it was applied, Russian Green 4BO (Vallejo 71.017). With the base color complete, I simulated light paint chipping by randomly stippling dark brown all over the tank, but focusing on the edges of armor panels.
|The final few stages of the painting process.|
Despite the preshading and chipping, I still felt the green of the tank looked a little flat, and wanted to experiment with oil paints to add more variation to it. To do this, I used a few Ammo of Mig Oilbrushers, which are pre-thinned oil paints in little vials with an applicator brush. The applicator brush makes them really easy to use, just shake the vial to mix the paint a little, and then use the little brush on the cap to apply the paint, before sealing it up again. With three different greens, I applied small amounts of oil to various parts of the tank, primarily adding dark green to areas that would be shaded and light green to more exposed areas. After applying the oils, I went back and blended them into the base green by lightly wetting a brush with odorless thinner. This blending technique takes a little getting used to, but is pretty easy with some practice. Since oil paints dry so slowly and can easily be removed by applying thinner with a brush, the process is pretty forgiving.
|After airbrushing the tank green, oils were used to add definition to the color.|
Next, I did a pin wash wash to pickout all of the rivets and panel lines on the tank. This technique is very similar to using a normal GW acrylic wash, but takes advantage of oil paints increased drying time and ability to be removed with thinner. For it, I took one of the brown oil paints I had and diluted it with odorless thinner. Then I applied the wash with a brush to all of the rivets and panel lines; due to the thin consistency of the wash, capillary action draws it easily into the details. After letting it dry a little, you can always go back and touch up any area, or remove excess wash, with a brush lightly wetted in thinner.
|The sides and tracks of the tank were painted with a combination of pigments, enamel washes, and GW texture paints.|
To start the weathering process I used a dot filter technique, which uses various oil paints to create a faint streaking effect over the tank. The process is quite simple, just putting small dots of oil paint all over the tank and then lightly blending/brushing the paint off with a brush containing a small amount if thinner. If you use too much thinner or brush to heavily, you might remove all of paint, but you can easily go back and repeat the process. After doing this, I added some more pronounced rust streaking effects on some areas of the tank I figured rust might accumulate. For this I used an enamel product, Streaking rust from Ammo of Mig. This is applied with a brush in streaks and after letting dry for a minute or two, is blended carefully with thinner, much like the oil paints. Finally I used Ammo of Mig Wet effects to simulate areas where water was running off the tank, something I figured was possible in the humid, forested areas of the Thorn Moons. It was incredibly easy to use, just brushing it on lightly and letting it dry. It has a slight glossy finish, mimicking that of water.
|MiniNatur moss tufts were added to various areas on the tank to make it look like the tanks has been unused for quite some time.|
I also experimented with some of GW’s texture paints and some Vallejo pigments to simulate an accumulation of dirt on the tank and along the tracks and road wheels. I started by applying a layer of Stirland Battlemire (one of GW’s texture paints with microbeads) to areas, making sure to vary the thickness, helping to create texture. I unified this all by painting over it with Martian Ironearth, another GW texture paint, but this one cracks when it dries. After all of this dried, I painted it a variety of browns, to make it look like dark woodland soil. Next I used an old brush to dab on a few different brown pigments. This was focused primarily around the side of the tank and around the wheels. To fix the pigments in place, I liberally applied Brown Wash for German Dark Yellow (Ammo of Mig). Since this is an enamel product, I was able to go back with some thinner to blend or touch up any area I was not happy with. To add some additional color, I also used a little light and dark Slimy Grime from Ammo of Mig (I used these on the skulls on the tank to give them a slight green hue). The tracks were completed in a similar way, applying pigments with a brush and fixing them with an enamel wash, this time using Ammo of Mig Track Wash. To complete the model, I added a few moss pad tufts from miniNatur (747-22 S). Unlike most static grass tufts I have worked with, they have really fine strands and look a lot more natural. A special thanks to @apoteos_miniatures for telling us about them!
I put off painting the T-26 for quite some time, apprehensive about learning how to use oils. Having completed the model, I should have started much sooner! As it turns out, oils are really fun and forgiving to use. I would encourage everyone to give them a try, particularly if you plan to paint some tanks in the near future!
- Eric Wier