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Machine painting guide


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Hey all, some people were talking about wanting to enter into this area of the Reapercon contest but weren't sure how to get some good effects. I've got some experience in vehicles, I don't always do a WIP for everything I paint, and figure lets get a discussion going to help people figure out what they want and how to do it.


I'll start off by saying I'm more familiar with weathering and I don't have any real experience with an airbrush (though that will change this weekend as my compressor arrives tomorrow) so in some areas I'm going to be more helpful then others.


First off let me start with an awesome free resource I had forgotten about. The weathering magazine released a free "Best of" online mag last December and it has some great articles on basic rust, worn chipping and mud (which I've never done) so this is a great read.




Also Painting Buddha just did one on painting a warjack that can be helpful but it looks like there will be a few weeks until it makes it out to the community college (ie free).


I'm going to start about a few basic techniques that I think can be used for any paint style then move onto how I do chipping and worn paint without salt or other specialty paints. Probably won't have any pictures but if people really need some I can get to that over the next few weeks. I have a few dust vehicles I picked up on the cheap over black Friday that I've been saving for when I get an airbrush.


Basic Techniques


---Defining the machine.


1) Oil Washes --- So one of the hard things to do, without an airbrush, is get good gradients and contrast going on certain vehicles. How they reflect light and the large flat surfaces in general are tricky so it's hard to really define the various part of the vehicle like one would with a human. Also you generally don't paint a vehicle 10 different colors and there's much less range in the colors you do use. One thing you can do, that I got from the guy behind Kallamity, is to use a wash of pure black oil paint. This may seam crazy but oil and acrylic work just fine together--I've been doing it for about a year now and the Massive voodoo people have for longer then me. The reason for oil is, well, the blacks in oil are just 10x blacker then what we can get in acrylic. Also oil washes are way, way more fluid then acrylic washes so they flow right into the ridges and lines and stay there without staining the rest of the paint -- they're quite easy to use. If you dilute the oil paint enough they dry pretty quick too (less then 30min). You'll want to several washes but it will really define all the separate parts in a way you can't otherwise.


2) Pigments -- Pigments can be used two ways. To quick shade and to make the machine look like it lives in a world. There's a great article on Warsen.al's blog about painting one of their terrain pieces where pigments are used for the shading. I would link but it would violate forum rules so you'll need to search for it yourself. This can be a great way to shade a large surface but pigments can be a bit tricky to use as it's very easy to get too much on your brush and then you've got something way harsher then you wanted (and cleaning them can be a pain). I tend to only do this on the undersides where you're prone to have darker shades and, possibly more dirt, as it's a great way to add a final shade without much work. The second application for pigments is really more a discussion on it's own.





---Quick weathering tip


1) Dry Mud -- Got this from massive voodoo. Some of you have the crackle paints that I used for ice. Well just paint it earth tone and you've got some very dry mud. The non-clear paints are more durable so I suggest the white.


-- Chipping effects


Let me start out by saying I love the chipping solutions from AK Interactive (MIG also makes a line but I haven't tried them but they're probably easier to get) as it makes the process below require less of a soft hand. But you don't need them. I have not tried salt and hairspray but it's clear you can get some good results--but read up on it first as only certain hairsprays really work.


First off here's a wooden Tori I used this technique on to make.




You can also use this to do heavy rust (though you'll probably want more colors) This shot was after I added pigments into the rust effect




Without using a chipping solution it's very easy to accidently take off more paint then you expected (as well as some primer) but that's OK as you can use that opportunity to add in some slight color variation to show faded paint, repaints (that don't match) or various shades of rust.


What you'll need is the following:


1) and old tooth brush. I've got one where the front 1/3rd of the brush is kept a the same length and the back 2/3rds have been cut half way down. I suggest a soft or medium brush.

2) and underpaint. This will be the metal or the figurative primer--machines will have a primer between the paint and metal so we'll represent that with a different color. If I'm doing TMM I'll use a metal color I like. If not I'll do a dark gray. Temperature of the gray is up to you, choose to best to fit the desired mood of the piece.

3) (Optional) a second undercoat. You can do a metallic then the aforementioned figurative primer.

4) Hot water. You'll want this after your paint coats have dried. The warmer the better as warm water will break up the acrylic paint bonds and help you scrub it off.




1) Paint your base layer. You may want to do a few coats of this as it's easy to take this layer off ---which generally we don't want. This layer will be your figurative primer or TMM color. If you're doing do separate undercoats now is where you do it.

2) Paint your paint layer.

3) Depending on where you live let the paint dry some. The longer you wait the harder to get off. I normally wait 20-30 min (I live in a desert).

4) get your tooth brush and dip in the warm water and scrub away. Be warned that at first It will seam like nothing is coming off but then a little will followed by a lot. Use the longer, and thus less pressure applied, part of your brush for a more gentle scrub that will take off less. The shorter bristles will take more off quicker. Generally it takes me about 20 seconds of scrubbing to get the effect you want but the majority of it is in how warm the water is plus how much force you apply.


That's basically it.


Feel free to ask questions or just form a general discussion on how to paint machines as I'm more then certain there's more then just me with some tips to share. I'll post some more guides here as I have time based off of people's question.

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Some great information here, thanks for taking the time to post.  I actually have a few minis lined up that this tutorial will come in handy for.


Side note, what's the name of that ogre mini with the swords, who makes it?

Feel free.


Side note, what's the name of that ogre mini with the swords, who makes it?

It's a Fallen from Norsgaurd.

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I tried the hairspray techinque, with and without salt. I like the effect without salt the best, for the "edge chips" I was looking for.


First you need an undnercoat of the color you want to show below the paint chips. Usually, this is a red-brown if you want to do rust, or you can use a leafy green if you want it to be primer like the one used today for anti-corrosion on aircraft.


Once you ensure that coat is well dry, advise is to seal it before moving on. Once the varnish/sealant is cured, you apply a nice coating of hairspray over the mini. I got the best results with it being thin, but I could still see a glistening of the surface (the spray should not reach the surface dry, which can happen if you spray from too far away).


Now, why hairspray? Hairspray is a light fixative that dries to the touch, but is still water soluble for about 24hs. What we are doing here is applying a clear coat of stuff that will dry, but can be washed away with water. 


Wait about half an hour, and you paint the top color on the parts. This is usually done with airbrush, because if you apply water to the surface of the hairspray it will lift. It is that lifting what we use to create the chipping! When the top layer is nice and dry, a couple minutes usually, you take an old and beaten brush, apply a drop of water to the area you want to chip, wait a minute, and then gently rub the surface. The drop of water will reactivate the underlaying layer of hairspray and with the rubbing you will be able to "chip" the surface.


Too much water and too soon (first hours after hairspray application), and the chips are big. As hours pass by, the ability of the hairspray to be reactivated and washed off fades so if you use caution with your brushing stroke and wait until 4-5 hrs, chips will be smaller and you will avoid lifting big chunks of the top layer.


The result is something like this:



The following is my "test" piece:




Everything else is being cautious with the brush as you remove paint, and intelligent chip placement.


You can sprinkle salt over the wet hairspray, so that when you wet the area and use your brush, the salt is removed. This creates different pattern for chips, and it is an easier method if you place the salt over seams or places you want the chips to appear, but lacks the ability to do "directional" chips like when an edge rubs off.


After a day of leaving it be, the hairspray layer cannot be removed and the top layer can be painted over without fear, in my experience.


As always, check your hairspray first on a test piece to see it does not react badly to your paint. Also, to test its ability to be lifted and cure afterwards. Not all hairsprays are equal it seems, but I was lucky the first I tried worked nicely.

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This is a good thread. Thanks for posting your tips, folks!

I need to try hair spray and salt. It looks faster than the alternatives.


I have done paint chipping effects using a sponge technique. My process is roughly as follows:


1. Paint the miniature to a "pre-finished" state. For me, that means most shadow and highlight is in place, but maybe not the top highlights, and none of the details.

2. Pick a dark color for what will show up inside the chips. I typically use a rust-red, but other options work too.

3. Sparingly sponge the paint onto the mini where you want effects to appear. Be patient! it is easy to make too many blobs.

4. Adjust: Sponging on paint will make semi-random chips appear, you can adjust this a bit by adding to them with a brush, or painting over them with your primary color to make them disappear.

5: Highlight the bottom edge of each chip with a highlight version of your primary color. (Not the rust color). This step makes the paint look 3-dimensional, and can really make the chips "pop" off the mini.




I don't really have a close-up handy, but the best examples I can give are around the shoulder and ankle of this battlemech. (This miniature was also present at ReaperCon '13.)

Edited by klarg1
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