Airbrushing Armour – Dragon 1:35 Sd.Kfz 138/2 Hetzer

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Many modeler often have a dilemma what is the best paint type and brand to be used for airbrushing a piece of armour and the same has been for me in a few past years. Many will say acrylics are just perfect for the job, others will swear in enamels and they all have good point and arguments. I was really using almost every single paint brand there is on the market and when I first time tried Testors Model Master paints, both enamel and acrylics, I simply stopped searching further. Whether we are talking about mixing, simple pattern airbrushing, shading, washes, weathering… Testors paints are simple and pure perfection, especially enamels. Now the Hetzer, modern design for the time but still somehow funny, replicated by the Dragon with good enough precision and a level of details, maybe not up to the standards of their newer kits but it’s worth the money for sure. Once the kit is assembled, as usual I will divide it into three ‘painting groups’: The body, the track and finally little pieces and details, tools, exhaust and so on. I will start with the body section and airbrush the base coat with Testors Model Master 2088 Sandgelb in three very thin coats in 10 minutes intervals, thinner to paint ratio is 2:1. Some half hour later, very diluted mixture of 2088 Sandgelb and 2053 Sand ‘ANA’, thinner to paint ratio is 10:1, is sprayed over the entire model in a cloud pattern to create slight colour variation by concentration a bit more on the panel centers, an important step considering that the model is one colour overall and not so rich in details so we must crate that busy and interesting look with the paint process.

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Base painting and initial airbrush shading is done

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Tricky thing with overall painted models is that they always tend to look boring, ‘flat’ and without details

Another half hour later and it’s time to spay a darker mixture, 2088 Sandgelb and 1754E Light Earth, thinner to paint ration 10:1 but this time concentrating on the panel lines, recesses and also edges of the body shape. These are the moments where you can actually see the beauty and possibilities of Testors Model Master enamel paints, their shading properties are unmatched by any other paint type or brand. Next in a row are the track and the details to be airbrushed. For the tracks and the machine gun, I am using 1749E Flat Black and 2088 Sandgelb for the exhaust.

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Paint chipping is done with 000 brush and Testors RLM72 Grun, chipping is outlined with Testors 2053 Sand

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Overall wash and a messy look of the model after the initial layer of oils is been applied

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Smooth and shiny Hetzer with white oil dots where we want to do a light shading

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Dark shading with continuous dark oil paint applied alongside the turret

Set the model aside for some 24 hours for the paint to dry properly so we can continue, 36 hours is even better if you are not in a hurry. When it comes to a decals, I like to simply brush the spots with very thin coat of Future floor wax where the decals about to be placed and to position them while the Future is still wet as that way there is just no chance we can get silvering or anything messy. Set the model aside again for a few hours and then we are going to spray on Testors Flat clear acrylic. Before we continue with the wash and oils, leave a flat cote to dray, 45 minutes is just enough. First thing i am going to do is oil wash with highly diluted burnt umber oil paint and Testors 1785E Rust. As we are doing a wash over matt surface you can expect that some of it will actually run over the panels but we want it there as well as in the panel lines. A few minutes after the was take a flat brush moistened with enamel thinner and with gentle stabbing motions blend the oil wash excess on the panels now leave it aside for an hour to dry. Overall oil wash is next but this time we are going to use only burnt umber to make a base coat for the shading, thinned to a consistency of a melted butter and with a flat brush cover the whole model, wheels, tracks… keep working with the brush in straight lines until you can’t see any more brush strokes and the whole model is shiny and smooth. As soon as we are done with overall wash we want to start shading and blending with oils while our base coat is still wet.

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Our plan to make boring model to look interesting and full of details is done with drybrushing at the end

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Oils over decals for more faded and weathered look. Careful though, bit by bit to prevent decals from lifting off!

For this task it’s good to use a few oil paints to create more realistic and used dirty look of the tank so we would start with white and finish it with the black for the darkest areas. A procedure is very simple, place a few dots of oil paint on the panel and with stubbing brush motion blend the paint in the base coat, repeat until you are satisfied with the results. Use just oil paint for a base and mix Testors paints with oils for all the rest as that way you will get perfect paint consistency and pigment but also increase a drying time a bit which is desirable having in mind a fact that oil paints dry very slowly. At the end use a flat brush and some light colour paint, i am using Testors Model Master 2053 sand ANA , to drybrush entire model and we are done here. If you never used Testors paints give them a try, you will not regret it!

Model, Text and photos by:
Aleksandar Pocuc

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