- There are a couple
of considerations for painting tracks. First and
foremost is the fact that tracks rust. They rust
very quickly. In addition to the rust on the
tracks, one must also consider the amount of
dirt, mud, turf and other debris that gets stuck
in the tracks. Consequently, do not paint your
tracks pure steel, unless you want to represent
tracks right off the assembly line (but even
then, they still need weathering).
- I paint my tracks
while they are still on the sprue. This makes
handling them much easier (I touch up the cut
marks after gluing to the tank). I paint the base
color of the tracks dark gray (panzer gray works
- After the gray
dries, apply a heavy wash of red-brown for rust.
If your wash is thin, give it several coats.
- Then comes a black
wash for the shadows, nooks and crannies.
- Now I add some
steel. I drybrush the steel paint over the raised
portions of the track. This represents where the
rust and grime would have worn off due to
friction with the ground and wheels.
- Depending on the
look I am going for, I might then spray on a very
light coat of dust. Sometimes I leave off this
step, but not often.
- The final step is
buffing with my metalizer cloth. I rub the
metalizer residue onto the topmost details, like
the ice cleats, guide teeth and grousers.
- Remember that you
cannot make the tracks too dirty. Additional
washes of brown, black or rust can only improve
their looks. If you think it needs more dirt, go
ahead and add another wash. The only
consideration here is try to have a black wash as
the final wash to ensure that all crevices are
picked out in reverse relief.
- For some tracks,
such as those on Soviet vehicles, they seemingly
rust as soon as they hit outside air. For these,
I actually paint the tracks rust as a base color
instead of gray. I follow that with brown and
black washes, and highlights of steel and
metalizer. The tracks on my BT-5 (see review) are an example of this
- I have heard good
things about the Rustall Weathering System,
originally developed for use with model
railroading, I believe. I've never used it (yet),
but I'm hoping to give it a try soon. Anybody
interested in this product can find information
- "Doug, I
enjoyed the review of the Hasegawa 251. I learned
something from car builders who work with vinyl
tires. They recommend painting the raw vinyl with
Future floor wax prior to painting. The acrylic
wax is designed to be applied to vinyl floors and
is super tough when dry. It can be sprayed full
strength or the tracks can be dipped. It worked
very well on a 251 in 1/35 scale I built." -
- Do not paint rubber
tires solid black. Black is too dark when you
consider weathering and scale effect. Either use
dark gray, or gray tinted with a bit of red-brown
(this is good for gray vehicles, to help contrast
the tires from the vehicle's gray paint).
Drybrush with light gray.
- Paint the entire
wheels the base color of the vehicle, camouflage
if necessary, then wash and drybrush. Paint the
smooth, outer rims gray, and then buff with
metalizer (or drybrush with steel if you don't
- Do not use steel or
gunmetal paint. Paint the item dark gray or faded
black, and then buff with metalizer. I have heard
that grinding down pencil lead (graphite) into a
powder, and buffing with that works well also,
though I have never tried it.
- I usually paint
these the same way as Soviet tracks, i.e., I
paint them a base color of rust, give them a
brown or black wash, and then buff them with
metalizer. I've read that mixing talcum powder
with the rust paint works very well for giving a
corroded surface texture (must then be
handpainted, of course). I have yet to try that,
but it sounds like a great idea.
- Simply put, scale
effect refers to the fact that colors look
lighter from a distance. Since reducing the size
of a vehicle (such as making a scale model) is,
in effect, moving the vehicle further away from
the viewer, the paint that is applied to the
vehicle needs to be lightened to compensate.
- I know that a lot
of people like to compare paint samples from
original vehicles to color charts and whatnot, in
order to get exact color matches. This is fine,
if they are going to paint a full size vehicle.
But the second you reduce the vehicle in size,
the color needs to be lightened.
- Some of the newer
paints, such as AeroMaster Acrylics and Testors
Model Master, come pre-lightened (toned down).
The amount of this toning down is usually
suitable for 1/35th or 1/48th scale. They should
be lightened even more for 1/72nd scale. I don't
know if anybody has calculated exact recipes, but
the common standard that I have seen is to add
about half a dozen drops of white to a
"standard" 1/2 oz. jar of paint.
Remember though, the highlight coat of paint will
also lighten the final color of the vehicle, so
don't get too carried away with the lightening of
the base color.