Painting Desert Themed Vehicles for Flames of War
I had recently become interested in the Flames of War miniature game, and started collecting a German Afrikakorps army. I picked out a small transport tractor called a RaupenSchlepper to do a practice run with. If I liked the results, I would use this paint scheme for all of the vehicles in the army. I am pretty happy with the end result in terms of how much time was needed. Taking this method and passing it on to the tanks, half-tracks and artillery of the rest of the army wouldn’t be difficult at all.
Part 1. Undercoat. What you are doing when you start a paint job with an undercoat (not to be confused with priming a miniature, which was done prior to this stage with Floquil flat gray primer) is to paint a layer of paint that will influence the paint that follow it while not really being the hue, or tone that is what you will see when the model is finished.
In this case, I am starting with Vallejo Green Brown which is a terracotta like color of brown. This will essentially act as the mid-range shadows for the model, and will warm up the general color a little. Undercoats can also be used to create varying tones like you see in skin, or patterns that seem to be under the actual colors of the model. With this model, I am covering the entire model with Vallejo Green Brown that will be built upon later.
When I put this or any other coat of paint on that is going to cover a large area, I am sure to have a little water in my paint (1:8ish ratio) and that I have a lot of this mixture on my brush so it will go on quickly and evenly. I see a lot of minis that have a texture to their paint jobs that is a little bumpy looking, and I think this is due to trying to paint a large surface with too small a brush, and with too little paint.
Part 2. Black Details. I will be adding a lot of lighter tones onto the model as I go along, so I am going to take this opportunity to get the base coat of black onto the tracks of the model. This will help keep me from getting black onto the light tan areas as I build them up, which would be pretty tricky to clean up.
I’m not always the best at choosing what to paint when. I try to follow the idea that you want to paint from the bottom up, kind of like the way that you put your clothes on, you are covering the lower surfaces first, and going out from there.
Part 3. Basecoat Layer 1. Here is where I start to build up the base coat that can be recognized as the color of the vehicle. I let some of the under coat peek through where there would be some shadow if the sun was in a noon position. Between the slats in the bed, and under the flaps in the canvas covering are good examples of this. Vallejo Iraqi Sand is the color that I used for the base on this model.
Part 4. More Highlights, More Black. Another layer of thinner Vallejo Iraqi Sand has been added to smooth out the finish. Also, I planned to do some significant work on the windshields, so I paint around their edges in black so that they will pop a bit more.
A note on black: Black has a way of flattening out colors around it, and making rich tones seem dead. Experiment with dark warm or cool tones that are made by mixing complementary colors. A good amount of blue mixed with some orange will make a cool muddy color that can be used to put dark edges, or shadows around lighter blue areas for example. This is a little hard to get right, but its fun to experiment with. If you can pull it off well, it adds a depth to your paint jobs that feels very natural.
Part 5. On this pass I have added some white paint to Vallejo Iraqi Sand to start picking out details. I think that this work will get overpowered by future passes of large area highlights, but it doesn’t hurt to see what these kinds of highlights would look like at this time.
Part 6. Metal Tracks. Here I have dry brushed, carefully, the tracks with GW Boltgun Metal to give them some metallic goodness. After that I hit the metallic areas with a wash of dark brown ink to rust them up a little.
I went back over the road wheels to pick the tan out again, and to cover up any areas where the metallic paint may have been misapplied.
Part 7. Dust on the Tracks. This layer is muddy sand and dust on the tracks and the lower part of the truck’s body.
Part 8. Blackline. One of the tools that I am really starting to become attached to is my fine technical pen. I use it to put dark lines around details that I would have a hard time getting to with a paintbrush. You can find these in different colors in good art stores, and in black in most office supply stores. I use about the thinnest one I can find to accommodate the fine detail on some of these minis.
Part 9. Window Basecoat. This blue color on the windshield is what I am going to build the window paint from. This was a mix of a basic blue (I can’t recall the name) by Vallejo, and a little black to make it more subdued.
Part 10. Here I have added a dark blue area to the top of the window. This was done with paint that was a bit watered down so I could do a rough blend.
Part 11. Under the blue, I have painted a dirty horizon with Vallejo Green Brown, the same color as the undercoat.
Part 12. Final Details. A little more high light, thinned out white paint carefully applied to the windows to imitate streaks, and some more drybrushed highlights on the base and tracks to create desert ground.
At this point I have a nearly finished product. I may add some markings, decals, and I will definitely spray the model with dull-coat varnish to protect it. I was able to wrap this model (photography included!) in an evening, so I think that I could create a good painting assembly line for the rest of my vehicles.