It's All About the Weather - Mike Powers

Paint you must; but it's your decision to weather. Weathering can bring a vehicle to life. Too much or poorly applied weathering can bring a vehicle to ruin. I always try to go out and look at heavy equipment on jobsites to get an idea of how the dirt looks and where it deposits itself. A cellphone is an important tool to bring with you.

Armored vehicles get dirty - who'd of thought! They all get some dirt and detritus on them about 15 minutes after their engines are started.

In the piece below I followed a simple multi-layered process:

  1. Paint the vehicle. This is your canvas so do a nice job!
  2. Gloss varnish the piece.
  3. Apply the markings.
  4. Gloss varnish the piece.
  5. Apply wear, washes and streaks to match your aesthetic ( I will put together an article on this in the near future.
  6. Take a breath. Sit down and have a beer-or your favorite beverage
  7. Here we go...

Make a decision about how much weathering you want to do. Just dust - great! Dried and wet mud - you're starting to get to me. Dirt and grime - Now you have my complete attention.

Get your references together. I suggest you print some of them out as you are going to be working with intensity and looking at your phone or your computer may prove to be too much of a distraction. Spread a big piece of paper or cardboard on your bench (this could get messy). Get pigments, fixer, mud mix (we'll talk about this), rough brushes, a toothbrush, some 3x5 cards and a small eye dropper or pipette.

Since my example is a modern British FV180 CET my weathering will be very European. Much of what I discuss will be applicable to any theater - just the colors will change.


Getting Down to Work

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Paint and wash the tracks, off the vehicle if you can. First flat silver. Then the pads are painted Dark Rubber. An AK rust was was applied. This was followed by a burnt umber wash. I went over the tracks with a 4B pencil and highlighted all the areas that would be worn to a polish by ground and road wheel contact.

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Paint, wash and distress the finish based on references and to your liking.

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Tracks attached. Wash complete. Painted and distressed.

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The bucket has been prepped. First I applied silver. I then sprayed over it with AK Heavy Chipping fluid. After it had dried for about 20 minutes, I sprayed the rust color. With a small, stiff brush and some tap water I scrubbed away at the rust finish wherever I wanted the silver to show through. At this point I set the model aside to dry overnight. I followed the same procedure again - Chipping fluid then green, then scrubbing. After I was all done I set it aside. I shot a light clear coat over it the following day.

You may notice I have done a fair amount of mud weathering behind the road wheels.. I mixed AK pigments with matte medium and hydrocal plaster. I applied this mess with a stiff cut down brush. I kept building it up until I liked it. After it had dried I washed it with some dark Al Vallejo water-based wash to make the texture come out better. I dry-brushed it with a lighter shade of mud like paint.

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Here you can see the tracks are attached and more wet mud as well as some of the dried mud has been applied.

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I  added all the remaining small details and all the flotation equipment. From this point on I want to make sure everything gets weathered together. I also used some index card paper to make protective covers for the tracks and wheels. I will go back when the rest of the piece is done and complete any weathering that is needed. I began to spatter the model with a light mud color by using my airbrush set at a very low psi (8psi) This created a nice splatter affect along the body above the tracks.

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Tidy Up your Workbench - Mike Powers

Cleaning up the mess you make is always a good idea. More clutter can lead to more mistakes. Here is a tip to protect your airbrushes. If you work in an unfinished basement room and the floor above you is in regular use the amount of dirt and detritus that can end up on you bench, in your cleaning water, paint, and yes your airbrushes can make airbrushing frustrating. If you use an airbrush saddle thingy the dirt can end up in your color cup and can lead to a clogged brush - or worse! So I have a few preventative measures that I take:

  1. Keep your water in a container that you can cover
  2. Cover your airbrush cups with cheap color mixing cups or something similar.
  3. Put a clean paper towel or piece of white paper down each time you start to work.
  4. If you use a spray booth clean it up before you begin. Dust, cobwebs, and animal hair can make a mess of your finish.

Below is a picture of a few of these precautionary measures I take. You can also dream up your own ways to keep your equipment in good working order

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