Airbrushing Armour – Dragon 1:35 Pz.Kpfw.38(t) Ausf.E/F

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In many aspects, achieving a realistic look on single colored vehicles can be difficult and often we end with boring and somehow dull model which lucks details and excitement. With proper painting and weathering techniques, dark single color vehicles can look just as exciting as any other and in this part of Airbrush Armor i will try to explain some of my techniques. As usual, i will start airbrushing in groups, body and turret, wheels and tracks and all the details at the end. First, base paint airbrushed is Testors Model Master 2101 Anthrazitgrau RAL7016 which is not actually final color for our model here but a perfect base for color modulation process that will come later. To enhance the base color some airbrush shading and fading is done with progressively adding sand and flat black to a base paint. Lower areas around the wheels, tracks and suspension system that are close to the ground will get a cloudy pattern overspray of Testors 1736 Leather mixed with 1701 Military Brown, again a base for our later weathering techniques. While the body section and wheels are left aside to dry we will airbrush the tracks with 1749 Flat Black.

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Model airbrushed and initial shading and fading is done with addition of sand and flat black to a base paint

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Colour modulation effects are visible on right side of the vehicle as we are doing a first layer of blue-gray oil mix

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– Dots of white oil is applied and blended on the larger panels to simulate faded pain.

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Turret treated with white oil mix to create diversity in shades. Dirt streaks are notable on the turret sides

Black paint is appropriate base for the tracks that would get some extensive weathering and dusting treatment with oils and pigments a bit later. Once everything is dry, Testors Flat clear acrylic is applied in 2 light coats to serve as a barrier for oil treatment which is our next step. Before we start with color modulation we must first determine proper color shades for the job. As our base airbrushed color is more gray then blue-gray, we are going to mix a few artists oils and Testors enamels to get blue-gray. Start with mixing Testors Flat Black with blue and white artists oils until we get consistent dark blue-gray color. We will now split the mix in three and add more white to a first one and just a bit more black to the second, the third mix will remain the same. All three shades are then thinned to a consistency of melted butter using enamel thinner. Our goal is to avoid getting boring and dull looking single color vehicle by applying a few shades of the base paint starting with lighter shades on upper sections to darker shades at lower parts of the tank. The mix with more white paint in is now applied to a turret by brushing the entire surface with the mix and then with gentle linear motions with new dry brush all excess is removed until we get nice, smooth surface. Now when the parts are more blue-gray than just gray, we will apply darker mix to lines and recesses to add more visual depth to our model.

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– Wheels first treated with blue-gray mix followed by some fading with white oils or enamels, greater control than with an airbrush

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With addition of various brown shades of oils and pigments we can break single color monotony

Main body section is next and initial blue-gray mix is applied but now we will do some fading of larger panels with whiter mix and shading panel lines and recesses with darker mix, again adding more depth and realism. Lower body sections are brushed with dark mix with addition of burnt umber oil to enhance dirt effect. Wheels are processed in the same manner as upper body section and will receive dusting with pigments at the end. Now with the model shiny and oily we will start adding the pigments. Dark brown and red-brown pigments are added over oil paint layer in lower sections of the body both on front and back end. Pigment would make oils dry faster and give nice dirty and dusty effect. Before we continue with light pigments on upper sections some dirt and rain streaks and stains are achieved by applying dots of oils paints here and there and by flat dry brush, in gentle downward motions blended in the base oil layer. With the stains and streaks done we will add some more dusting on upper parts with sandy pigments. Dark brown pigments are then used on the side recesses.

The tracks are next, brushed with our darker blue-gray mix and while still wet covered with three or four earthy shades of pigments. As said before, pigments will dry out the oils and will give us realistic look of muddy and dirty tracks. To finish of the tracks we will use extra soft 6B pencil sanded on a piece of sand paper to get fine steel like powder which is then applied on raised track sections with a soft piece of sponge rubbed in the powder. The goal of this is to get bare steel effect on the track parts that are in the contact with the ground and other parts of the vehicle. Burned and rusted parts such is exhaust pipe and engine grills are treated with burnt umber oil and the red-rust pigments. At the end, with various painting and weathering techniques we have accomplished realism and busy looking model even though a single color scheme is used. Dragon’s Pz.Kpfw.38(t) is a great kit and i cannot really find any flaws or shortcoming at all. It’s not a weekend kit but together with Testors paints, it will give you a few days of pure modelling fun!

Model, Text and photos by:
Aleksandar Pocuc

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