Monday, May 25, 2015

Taco Tutorials: pre-oil prep weathering

In this tut we will look at what needs to be done to prep our airbrushed model before the gloss coat and oils can be applied. Generally speaking, this consists of chipping and base detail painting.

Chipping theory
Chipping has long been part of my painting repertoire, although my old style was markedly different to the techniques I use today. Previously, I tended to chip manually, utilizing a hand brush to pick out individual spaces with black and then applying metal to the middle. Although this was adequate, it never really achieved an aesthetically pleasing finish and also looked incredibly artificial.

For roughly the past four to five years I've been utilising a sponging technique that makes the chipping effect far more random by taking the individual decision making out of the equation. As my wife has pointed out, part of the problem with the human brain in making random decisions is that it tends to try and order everything. This is why flocking our bases with individual patches of grass often looks far too consistent to be truly representative of a natural, organically developing scene. So too with chipping. While the sponging technique still requires us to decide the general areas of the vehicle to which it is applied, the actual application of individual chips is essentially random.

In addition to sponging, over the past few months I've also started utilizing a staggered highlighting technique to add further variance to my wargame pieces. This adds further contrast to dark chips and I think adds another level of vibrancy to a modulated model. Anyhoo, without further ado, lets jump in.

Stage one

With our modulated model in hand, we now need to start the weathering process. Before jumping into oil territory, this consists of a few key steps that add greater nuance and depth to the model. The first of these is a scheme of staggered highlights that represent the worn edges of the vehicle that have yet to properly erode down to the undercoat and metal.

Given the light nature of the model, I've chosen to use a plain white for this and a size 0 brush. To apply this technique we look for edges and raised surfaces that might come under wear from the natural environment and crew usage. Rather than simply apply a straight line, however, we draw the brush along the target length ways and stipple as randomly as possible, leaving gaps between the individual highlights.

This can be an exhaustive process, but the end result is quite satisfying I find. For other colors I generally suggest a 50/50 combo of the highest modulation color and plain white, you want the contrast to be considerable at this stage, as it will fade with later weathering stages.

Stage 2

With the highlights complete, its now time to add proper worn chips to the mix. To achieve this effect I combine an old brush with some decent packing foam often found in wargaming blister packs and such. While some modelers like to utilise multiple colors of chips, I have always been happy with a single tone - Vallejo dark rust. Add a blob to your palette, dip in the brush, then use some paper towel to wipe off most of the excess. Test the brush on the towel to ensure that it is leaving a 'splatter' impression with numerous distinct flecks, rather than just making a solid color. Target areas where the vehicle would come under consider wear and begin to spear them with the brush.

The extent to which you want to apply this technique is completely up to the individual. As I've become more comfortable with it, I've found myself utilizing it more and more conservatively.

Stage 4

Its now time to paint the base details of the tank before the gloss coat is applied. In the case of the TURMs I need to paint lenses, smoke launchers, MG ammo cans, the barrel canvas, coaxial MG, wheel rubber, tarp, tracks and tow cable.

The tow cable, coax and tracks are painted in a mix of oily steel and flat black.

On the  turret the gun canvas is painted flat khaki, while the lenses and smoke launchers are painted in German grey.

The wheels are also carefully brought out with german grey.
The TURMs is now ready for a gloss coat and oil weathering, the subject of the next installment :)


  1. interesting technique. Have you tried to first apply the sponge and then go with a thin brush and the light color to pick out the chipping?

    1. I've considered it, but I think after the washes and further weathering the effect wouldn't stand out enough to be worth it.

  2. Good, starting to look the deal now the good old T72 :)

  3. Excellent and very useful - thank you!


  4. Very usefull indeed. While I do use the chipping technique myself I never thought about adding some staggered highlights beforehand. Have to try this out next time.

  5. Great tutorial again- will make myself a sponge on a stick and give it ago myself.