Wednesday, October 27, 2010

That's no Forge World. That's New Jersey!

Honestly, are you surprised that "The Garden State" has secretly harbored an Imperial Manufactorum for the last two decades?  I thought you would appreciate some armor paint recipes...

I grew up around rusty old cars.  My father's hobby involved restoring antique cars, and I spent more than one afternoon of my childhood staring at the marvelous palette of a junkyard.  As I planned out my Vraksian Militia, the images and textures of an automobile boneyard were an easy aesthetic to draw on.

After scouring the Imperial Armour Masterclass book for nuggets of wisdom,  I dove right in.  I spray primed a few extra Necromunda bulkheads I had lying around, and tested out a variety of metallic treatments.  While I never saw myself as an "ultra-realistic" painter, I certainly knew how to layer on the grime.  The only real adventure, came in the form of the Forge World etched brass.  My local hobby enthusiasts told me that the reason you bought etched brass, was to prime the metal, then paint the ultra-fine detail.  I thought differently.  I wanted the brass itself to become part of what I was building.  Why paint on a brass color when you can start with the real thing?

I tested a variety of treatments, and found that a few thinned down washes of devlan mud and/or ogryn flesh gave a nice aged look to the etched brass.  A tiny touch of shining gold to the areas of the brass that light would most likely fall on really brought out the detail.  Tests done, I was ready to paint.

First, I primed all of my converted vehicles with P3 Black Primer.  I like this primer, as it seems to bond to models very well.  Also, I have never had this primer go all dusty on me.  It is worth noting however that P3 primer does take almost a week to fully cure.  Unless you don't mind your models smelling all dizzy, give the units plenty of drying time.

Next, I drybrushed the tanks with a good dose of Boltgun Metal.  I made sure to apply the paint sloppily, as I wanted the brush to do the work of randomizing the application.  Then, I began to work on rust.  I started with Dark Flesh, and applied patches of rust wherever I imagined moisture to both gather and sit for extended periods of time.  A good example of this, would be just below doors and hinges on the sides of the tanks.  I also made sure to have streaks of Dark Flesh leading down and away from large bolts and rivets, in places water would run off and eventually dry.  I followed this marking with a stippling of Blazing Orange, with little care as to the precision of the dots.  Finally, I used a stippling of Vermin Brown to layer the rust effect.  The Vermin Brown, while lighter, formed a bridge between the two previous tones.  Lastly and most importantly, I ripped a piece of army transport pick-and-pull foam in half, and used this to apply a sparse smattering of Chaos Black mixed with Boltgun Metal to all of the rusted areas.  This final step kept my overzealous rusting in check, and added a layer of texture to the brown and orange streaks my tanks had running down their sides.  The picture I used above was taken just after this step in the production.

Maybe I should have made this clear earlier, but I always, ALWAYS paint in an assembly-line fashion.  I plan out the entire army's color scheme, then work on all models at the same time.  While I have heard people complain about the monotony and seemingly unending feeling that goes with this, it is worth noting that I was able to finish my entire Vraksian force in just under four weeks with this method.  This is on top of having a full-time job, mind you.

After I was happy with the rust, I needed to pick out the parts of the tanks that were going to be painted with a brass treatment.  All I had to do, was break up the monotony of the Bolgun Metal and rust elements with various points of brass.  The heavy flamers, armor shields, large bolts, vents , searchlights, ammo hoppers and mechanical gubbins all took a coating of Tin Bitz.  At this point I glued on the etched brass plates, symbols and numbers.

Moving past rust, I next applied a healthy dose of Devlan Mud to all of the tanks.  I made sure to wear painting jeans for this part, as I knew wash would be splattering everywhere.  I made sure to manipulate the wash and let it rest in the crevices of the etched brass, and underneath and shadow-creating knobs and plates.

After the Devlan Mud was dry, I went in with some watered down Leviathan Purple ink.  I only applied the ink to the recessed plates of armor, beneath wherever I knew highlights would go.  While it seems strange to use purple on armor, I can assure you it has its place.  Considering the pale Rotting Flesh green of the skin tone I would use on my infantry models, a natural counter would be a rich purple color.  Rather than beat the viewer over the head with purple, I chose to simply suggest the tone on the recesses of the armor.  This complementary pairing allowed two seemingly juxtaposed models, infantry and heavy armor, to complement one another on a subtle level.  You may notice that on my Vendettas, I used the purple ink wash sparingly, on random and isolated armor plates.  Again, this was to break up the tone of the armor in a seemingly natural way.

With all washes dry, I began to pick out highlights. I made sure to apply another layer of Boltgun Metal to wherever light would fall on the armor.  The edges of all armor plates, the molding on every turret and hatch, I left nothing untouched.  I used a tiny bit of Chainmail to pick out the edges of blades, and any highlights that I thought deserving of an extreme edge.  The areas that had been treated with Tin Bitz began to take on a brass treatment.  I layered a sloppy drybrush of Tin Bitz on the inked sections, followed by a Dwarven Bronze touch.  Lastly, ornamental bits were hit with some Burnished Gold, and even a TINY touch of Mithril Silver at the edges, where the gold plating might have worn off.  Check out the tips of the horns on my Medusa cannons for a good example.

Etched Brass was touched up with Burnished Gold on the highest points at this stage.

The painted brass areas were now ready for a tiny touch of "patina" at this stage.  I applied small spots of Hawk Turquoise to the brass areas, in an effort to replicate corrosion.  Years of marching band in high school taught me a thing or two about the effects of weather on a brass tuba.  I tried to apply a small dot or streak of rotting flesh in the center of each Turquoise splotch, to vary the weathering.

I then painted all of the tubes and hoses Chaos Black, and applied two thinned down coats of pledge.  This acrylic gloss turned those black hoses into a fetish-esque detail that added to the breaks in metallic monotony.

The final step for my tanks, was to treat the treads.  First, I mixed Chaos Black with Boltgun Metal, and painted every tread evenly for a base tone.  Next, I watered down some Scab Red, which was the color I had decided to use as a starting point for the soil on my model's bases, and slathered it all over both the treads as well as the bottom parts of the tanks.  I tried to lay this mud wherever the treads would toss it.  Anyone who has rode a bicycle in the rain, knows how wheels can throw filth everywhere in a spectacular fashion. This dried and left a collection of pigment in the cracks and crevices of the treads, and brought the tone of the soil up nicely on the bottom portions of the armor.  I went back to my mix of Chaos Black and Boltgun Metal, and drybrushed the treads both heavily and evenly.  This left the red pigment in the recesses, and gave the impression of a well used tread thoroughly effected by its environment.

I should mention barbed wire here.  The wire I applied was of two varieties:  Forge World wire for my Medusas and Leman Russ Battle tanks, and Games Workshop circular barbed wire for the rear areas of my Chimeras.  For the Forge World bits, I lightly primed the sheets by spraying P3 black in the air above the brass, on both sides.  After applying the Forge World wire, I gave a mild drybrush of Boltgun Metal to the highest parts, then added a spot of Chainmail to the extreme locations, where light would really peak.  For the Games Workshop "circular" style razorwire, I only added a few thinned down coats of Devlan Mud wash.

Honestly, at this point, aside from correcting mistakes here and there, and painting the models firing out of hatches and the like, I was done.

At this point, my tanks had several layers of color, all of which either would be repeated on my infantry, or at the very least, serve as complimentary sounding boards to the colors I would apply elsewhere.
Typing this up, I thought to myself "Wow, I really did a number of steps!".  However, while I was doing the work, I never really thought about it.  I am not trying to claim a comparison to the work presented in Forge World books, but for the amount of time I had actually invested in the project, I am pretty happy with the results.

I hope that this was useful to those of you that read the entire rundown.  I have many more "walkthrough" recipes to share; I hope this was a good start.


  1. I really enjoy seeing someone else that likes the "dirty" look- I have been seeing nothing but super clean stuff for a while. I love your approach. Thanks for sharing!

  2. That IS a lot of steps..however this is most definitely a case of the ends justifying the means. No one can look at these pictures and say "I could do that in an hour" without lying through their teeth. This sort of thing obviously takes time and it was very interesting to read along through your process. Thanks!

  3. Great run down Dan, and some good ideas in there for me to try. I especially like how you filter the areas of the model with the purple wash to give different components a slightly different tone.

    One question, why did you apply the rust first before applying the devlan mud wash? I would think that the rust would tend to sit on top of and a result from the dirt, grime, and mistreatment of the tanks, and not be tonally effect by it as much. The exception to this would be the fresh mud and earth on the track and lower sides of the model.

    Not a big thing but something I think about when weathering vehicles.

  4. I hear you, Jay. It seems odd to hide rust under a wash.

    However, I find that my rust, unwashed, is a bit bold. This could just be due to my color choice, but I think it also has something to do with the contrast of metallic texture, to pigment. I found the wash to work well at not only muting the rust color, but unifying it with the metal. I didn't want the stains to scream "HEY LOOK; WEATHERING", so I washed it down. You certainly could apply the rust on top of the wash, I just haven't found the right palette for that yet. Then again, I have seen many different shades of rust in my day. I have seen baseball infield orange rust on an old Datasun, and Scab Red rust on a half-decayed derelict dredging trawler in a swamp near my home town. Ah, New Jersey.

    If you have any good rust recipes, I am all ears.

  5. While I think the bottom layer being the rust color might seem counter intuitive, as HuronBH mentioned, I know my own experiments have left me feeling like I did a piss poor job. Mostly because I just painted it on as a top layer with nothing to mute it. Testors does make some nice weathering color shades for mud and rust, I might have to give them another try with our friend Devlan Mud and see how I like it.

  6. Dan: You do need the rust as the bottom colour and build up. Come look at and see another quick technique similar to this one to see why.

  7. Pirate Viking; pretty crazy that both of our rust recipes are so close to one another!