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Monday, April 13, 2015

Bolt Action - The Mouth Of Madness Paints with Oils

Using a technique that employs oil paints to get a great effect for your fighting vehicles!

I've been playing around with a technique that's becoming pretty popular, painting with oils.  I got my hands on three M14/41s from Army Group North Miniatures.

These are great little tanks for normal games of Bolt Action, sporting between three and four MMGs plus a (coax) light AT gun.  The same model can also be used as the M13/40 (same rules but with slow) or the M15/42 (up to 5 MMGs!).  The M14/41 is a great looking tank, and in an historical match up against Commonwealth tanks from '41-42, I think the humble M14/41 will stand up.  I’ve already painted two Italian tanks, one M14/41 using a dry brush method, and another using ‘panel highlighting’, which you can see below.  To be honest, I wasn’t happy with either and wanted a change.  Luckily I had Bryan and Patch on hand to walk me through the amazing technique of oils!

The ‘oils’ technique is really fast and pretty easy, but it is a little different.  Basically you’re taking your standard oil paints, diluting them with a white spirits (essentially high quality turpentine) and washing your model.  There are a few more steps involved but I’ll get into that below.

Let’s start with what you’ll need:

- Enamel or plastic based undercoat (for JTFM and AGNM models);

- Coloured primer, I’ve used Army Painter ‘Desert Sand’;

- Oil paint, I didn’t go for anything to expensive. I used the colour ‘Burnt Sienna’ but I think 'Burnt Umber' is also good, and less reddish. For greens or darker sand colours, you can also add a little back oil paint in to get the right tone;

- White spirit (turpentine), you can get this at the same place you’ll find the oil paints;

- Some makeup sticks (Q-tips in the USA);

- Gloss varnish;

- Mat varnish;

- Sand pigment;

Step 1

Spray your undercoat on after any other prep you need to do like an initial enamel undercoat.  Paint on your different colours.  For my M41/41s, I’ve painted the tracks and exhaust a rusty, reddish brown.  The wheels on the suspension are black.  I’ve also hand painted on some decals at this stage.

Step 2 

Next step apply your gloss vanish. This is necessary to ensure the white spirit doesn’t strip your paint when you eventually apply it.  Bryan gave me a good tip for spray on vanishes – soak the can in warm water for ten minuets and shake really well. The gloss varnish went on like a treat.

Step 3 

Applying the oils!  I brought a dedicated brush for oil paints.  It was quite cheap but did the job well.  Dilute some of the oil paint with the white spirit.  Play around with the consistency; you want the oil to go on dark, but not to dark.  Too diluted and you won't get as dramatic an effect.  In terms of viscosity, it will be quite viscous.  If its thick like milk your going to have a very dark oil wash.

You can see my first attempt here. It was a little on the light side.

I tried again with a thicker consistency.

Step 4 

Set the tanks aside for about 12 to 24 hours.  This lets the oil paint dry just a bit.  You then take your makeup sticks and dip them in some white spirit.  Remove some of the white spirit from the makeup stick.  Take the makeup stick and rub back the oil wash.  You want to leave the oil wash in the crevasses, creating the highlights and depth.

Step 5

Wait at least another day then spray on a mat varnish.  I recommend using Bryan’s patented ‘soaking the can’ technique.

Step 6

Applying the sand pigment. 

I used the wet method, which worked really well.  You mix the pigment with water to get a thick milk consistency.  You can see below my first attempt, where the mix was a bit thick.  I think this would be fine for a muddy look but I was going for dust and sand.

Once you have the mix right, let it dry.  Once dry take a brush (a dry brush not wet!) and work back the pigment.  My advice here is trial and error, keep experimenting until you get the look you want.

Once you're happy with the look of the pigment, spray again with a light coat of mat varnish to seal in the pigment. And you’re done!

With Tank Battles out we all have a lot of vehicle painting to do. I highly recommend trying out this method. I know I’m a convert.  

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