Monday, September 29, 2014

DUST Tactics Axis Armoured Transport part 2

Now that the build was complete, seams had been filled and filed and all the brass had been fitted it was time to hit the paint booth!
Aluminum paint added - more translucent layers to go.

I started with the legs/under carriage because they were going to take the longest to fully dry. I loosely popped the legs back into their sockets so that I could paint cohesively but would still have opportunity to repose later. Next they received a spray in a gloss black finish and were double checked for errors - any mistakes from here on in couldn't be fixed without wrecking the finish - so after a couple minor tweaks and a second coat of gloss back these legs were ready to go! I dropped them into my spray booth and cracked out my Alclad2 finishes - I LOVE the way these paints look.

I used polished aluminum, aluminum, magnesium and exhaust to create a variety of metal tones and shading over the black. In the end it looked as though it were genuinely made of metal - not just painted metallic.

The body received a priming coat of Vallejo black primer and AMMO of Mig Jimenez Grey primer just to help me pre-establish some lighting and shadows. Thought the Vallejo goes on nicely I don't feel it is as good as the AMMO for surface adhesion. Just sayin. Anyhoo Following this I sprayed the interior. As I understand it, most enclosed WW2 German vehicles had off white interiors (some companies apparently sell paints in a colour just for this) and while I'm not certain it is historically accurate for an open top vehicle (I found conflicting examples in my search), I did like the idea of adding a contrast so I used Privateer Press P3 Menoth White Base, Menoth White Highlight and Morrow White to do my interior. Once dry I used a household sponge to mask the full interior bay and got to work airbrushing my hull.
Next I began to modulate coats of Vallejo Model Air 52 German Grey with a little Black Grey and AMMO Grey Primer added to the German Grey to darken and lighten for effect. This gave me a great looking German Grey vehicle that could have gone straight to the weathering and detail stages, but since this was going to be NDAK I had some more to do..... I sealed the Grey with Testors Dull Coat and once thoroughly dry I coated it in AMMO of Mig Jimenez Chipping Fluid, let that dry and started to lay in my Dunkelgelb Desert Yellow colours!

Using the AK Interactive Dunkelgelb paint set, I did the hull in with modulation in mind, but with a bit of added dramatic flair. I focused on contrast and gradation moreso than natural lighting - though I did still take care to pay attention to value and keep the lower zones and shadowed areas realistically/believably darker than uppers. This was a real fun paint job that stretched some of my creative and technical muscles to get to where I envisioned it. A LOT of the subtlety and depth of tones is lost in my photos here but I think they still give a fair idea of my progression and painting idea.

Now that my light was all established and my gradations were all clean, it was time to adjust the colour through filter work. This was extremely simple in this case as I simply thinned down AMMO of Mig Jimenez Dark Yellow Primer and sprayed it across the entire surface in super translucent coats. This gave me an incredible Dunkelgelb finish that allowed all my gradation work to show, while removing the cartoony aspects of the application to that point. I want to add here that I had never tried this approach before so it was with a wing, a prayer and a little faith in my own skill set, that I dove in and luckily found what I think are exceptional results!

In WW2 German vehicles shipped to the African theater from the battlefields of Europe often came painted in typical German Grey schemes. Once in the desert crews would repaint equipment in "Dunkelgelb" Dessert Yellow. As they spent time in the sand and the wind, these vehicles would often be chipped and worn down to the factory applied Grey or even down to the metal in areas. Also, because of the dryness - the tanks would show less in the way of rust than their northern counterparts.

To achieve this look (the main reason I chose this scheme to begin with!), I followed up by wetting the surface of the model to activate the chipping fluid beneath so that I could chip away at the beautiful paint job that I had just finished. Using some old brushes, a stitch ripper and some other random tools I peeled away layers of yellow to reveal the grey beneath. A graphite pencil was also employed to create a few tiny touches of base metal wear and tiny scratches and Forgeworld Dark Iron pigment was rubbed into many areas that were either bare metal by design or by wear. Once the kit had fully dried, I sealed it with several layers of dull coat to protect it from the additional weathering to come.

I also really like the way a lot of historical modelers building German Kit include replacement road wheels etc on many of the tanks in base red primer, or rusted as though they had been collected and re-purposed from another vehicle, or were left in base steel and applied without first painting.... As such I decided early on that I would do one of the leg armour sections this way. I chose the one that would be at the front of the model presentation as an anchor for creating more contrast and visual interest.  I used AMMO of Mig Jimenez rust coloured paints and AK Interactive German Red Primer Paints along with several weathering powders over a base coat of AK's Dunkelgelb Shadow (one of my absolute favorite colours - a very dark flat brown with an ever so slightly yellow green natural tone to it. Hard to describe but I don't think I will ever take a paint kit anywhere without it again...... I used some techniques that i have read about through the last few years in articles by Scratchmod in various magazines where I added pigment directly into the still wet paint to enhance textures and create really believable finishes. Kind of a scary thing to dive in and do but it was worth it in the end.

Now dried and sealed I did some initial weathering with AMMO Track wash, Dark Brown wash for Green Vehicles (I still have to pick up their Afrika Corps Wash, Interior Wash and Brown for German Dark Yellow washes - I so love playing with this line of products!) and very sparingly the light rust wash - mostly working in pin washes and around specific areas of weathering rather than as a full surface treatment. I then dragged a little of the AMMO light dust nature effects as a test across a few areas, knowing that I would come back and add more later.....

This photo was actually taken in the Hotel room at Gen Con....
I took some of the AK Dunkelgelb colours that I had used in the initial painting and a brand new W&N series 7 to sit and take my time highlighting chips scratches on their lower edges - making them appear more 3-D.

With this, the main painting was done, time for details and a bit more fine weathering to finish!
Cya Soon with the next installment!

Monday, September 22, 2014

DUST Tactics Axis Armoured Transport part 1

So the Kickstarter for the new edition of alternate history miniatures games DUST: Tactics has finished along with the new Campaign setting OPERATION BABYLON which more or less reopens Africa and the middle east as a major front in 1947 and should be making its way into stores and homes very soon..

Knowing that DUST creator Paolo Parente was going to be a Gen Con gave me more than enough motivation to really trick out one of my DUST models that I've had on my shelf for a while. I chose the PrinzLuther Axis Armored Transport for a couple of reasons. 1. I love the general look of it - it combines the body lines of several WW2 German trucks/halftracks and great SF styling with its 4 big walker legs. 2. I love the look of historical DAK vehicles with the paint all chipped and weathered away showing the original German Grey beneath. 3. With the open back there was lots of room to do small personalized details that really add to the overall presentation.

A ww2 DAK restoration in progress. Note the floor texture...
I started out with a little research into North African German vehicles, paint, markings etc. and began to consider how I would present the overall piece to best show its features. I decided on a raised base that would tip the model forward to better display the inside and which would make use of and emphasize the adaptability of the legs rather than wheels/tracks.

As DUST models all come preassembled, I began with the onerous and difficult job of disassembling the model so that I could really get in and rework sections of the kit that I though could use a more realistic upgrade.

Though it took my entire monthly quotient of BFI (brute force and ignorance) I managed to get the body halves separate, remove the radio/partition wall and to cut out the lattice along the inner side skirts/ablative panels. I replaced this with some styrene and a brass mesh usually used as armature for traditional sculpture techniques.  I also used a second smaller metal mesh to texture the floor.

With these parts done the kit already looked enormously better. I used a scalpel and wire brush to add wood grain textures to the benches and then moved onto some easier modifications. I ordered some parts from RB model - 1:48 brass gun barrels and some 1:35 tow clamps. The gun barrels, while brilliantly accurate looked too small for my aesthetic preference so I upsized, ordering 1:35 barrels of the same styles. These suited me perfectly! I was VERY pleased. Great service - incredible products. 

Next I hit up my good friend John Bunton for some extra Brass Etch from his bitz box, Instead he gave me a couple of complete sets of Voyager and Griffon Models brass detailing sets that he had picked up for next to nothing at a model show in Hamilton last year. This was an incredible boon and gave me far more choices and detail bits than I would ever use on this kit - in fact I may well be using bits from this horde for years to come!

I wired up the radio and sheathed the interior panels in brass to hide the supports for the side skirts, added some small hinges and boxes, wired the headlight and then made some small brass support straps for a set of headphones that I have to go with the radio, a submachine gun mount for one interior wall and a set of straps to hold the fire extinguisher and first aid kit that I attached to the back walls beside the door. When I reattatched the top half of the body I also puttied in some small weld seams to add some visual interest to a few body lines that I wasnt totally happy with. The welds fit the bill - a subtle modification that just added a bit of detail where additional equipment/dodads would have been out of place.

Following this I cut the lattice out of the turret roof and replaced it with brass, added metal barrels here as well and then some interior details for both the turret and inside the front part of the body in case it could be seen from outside.

All in all this was a REALLY satisfying build. I test fitted everything on to a mock up base and got ready to paint....

PART 2 Next Week ;)
ADDED BONUS - After the Jump are some photos that I used/kept in mind while I was working through this project. If you are doing DAK/NDAK, Desert models, armour etc. perhaps these will be of use to you as well! So click if you want to see these as well!