Monday, April 15, 2013

Weathering with an Airbrush

Kind of a short article today, but one that details what I think is a breakthrough in my painting development. As many of my readers know (all 4 of you, at most haha) I am a big fan of my airbrush, even if I am still enduring the steep learning curve. But this past weekend I was inspired to take up a challenge that I was very nervous to execute: using the airbrush for weathering tanks!

Basically what they looked like before weathering. Just green with a lighter-green highlight on the edges

First things first. Battlefront's Easy-8 Sherman tank models are a marvel of sculpting. They are absolutely worth the price. Simply beautiful models (the Jumbos? eh.....not so much, but still nice). For this reason alone I approached the weathering with trepidation. I have never liked the way that pigments have turned out for me, nor have I been impressed with using a brush to paint-on the "dirt" and "mud". So once I got the models painted and decal-ed to the point where I was satisfied, I was then worried about doing anything that might sully the model.

As an aside, I know I still have a lot to learn about decals, but it was the first time I tried them.

Back to the point of this article. The other night I was watching this video on Battlefront's channel (I tried embedding it but it wasn't appearing in Blogger's search) which showcases an airbrush weathering method for the M48A3 Patton tank. After watching the video I was convinced that despite the risk of ruining my models, proper execution of this weathering method could take my models to the next level.

I decided to do a test on a Jumbo model, since I had 4 but only needed 2. Furthermore, I chose one whose decals had "silvered". My first coat of paint was with Vallejo Air Green Brown, and I sprayed the tracks, wheel wells, and sections of the hull. 

Yeah, I wasn't great with the decals. Will have to get some gloss varnish.

This color paint would simulate dried mud. I made sure to lightly cover the decals, and to test and see just how much paint I could apply and still have the decal show through. One thing I did learn was that the airbrush paint will NOT conceal the "silvering" of the poorly applied decals.

Next I would apply Vallejo Air Camo Medium Brown, which would simulate fresh mud. As such, this color would not be applied as far up the hull as the Green Brown.

Honestly, I was giddy when all was said and done (and I NEVER get excited about painting). This was possibly the best airbrush session I've ever had. I didn't even wait to do the rest of my Sherman tanks:

5 Easy-8's, 3 more Jumbo's, 3 PSC regular 'ole Shermans

The only change I made to my method after trying the test model was to avoid painting the mud colors on the areas between the wheels of the tanks treads. Obviously there was a lot of "spray-over" onto those sections, but as long as a little green was preserved in those areas I was satisfied. Hopefully I can get in a Battle Report with these guys and you can see the finished product march to victory. If you have an airbrush I highly recommend giving it a shot. I suck at it and I think it still came out well.

Happy painting, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter @piflamesofwar 


  1. Nice commentary. Between you and a good friend of mine, I just might take the plunge and pickup an used Pasche or something.

  2. honestly, that is a great way to start, just don't invest too much $$$ into used equipment