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Mud -how to (tips that apply to weathering in general)

I think I would like to write some short posts on techniques for beginners Not sure if it is a useful idea, or the post themselves are going to be good, so I would like to ask for some feedback.

That being said… how to mud.

Making mud is a difficult issue. It has to be realistic -or feel realistic, at least. This has always something that eluded me; and I was quite worried with experimenting since I did not want to mess up a model I’ve worked on. We all have seen horrible examples which looked as if some brown substance was crudely brushed all over the model; I do not wish to include examples here for those since I do not think we should put others’ work in display as a bad example. And we all saw the good ones and the amazing ones.

My efforts fall in the middle somewhere: some are good, some are not so good.


I keep buying magazines, promising to show me the way, and I keep testing different products that guarantee a great results straight out of the bottle. But there are no short cuts. I found that you have to work just as much with a dedicated product as using home-made alternatives -or even actual mud. (More on that later.)

So let’s see the different options (which are normally used in conjunction with each other)

  1. Using, well, mud. This is an often overlooked option. 
  2. Pigments (artists’ pigments or ready-made products) NB: raw umber is a great pale color for dry mud color. 
  3. Pigments with some bulking agent mixed in (plaster, texturizer acrylic resin, static grass, sand, or all of the above) This will give volume
  4. AK interactive’s mud product
  5. Vallejo’s mud product
  6. Tamiya’s mud stick and makeup kits

The secret of application is to recognize that one product will not do everything, and one application will not achieve a realistic look. Just because it is on the bottle, it does not mean you will get the effect you want just by smearing the stuff on the model -something I learned to my own surprise.

As with all weathering generally, the secret is on observation and on the application (and partial removal) of layers.

Dry, powdery mud goes on first in a thin but large area. This can actually be sprayed on as an actual paint layer. This is normally light in color, and goes on the complete underside, and some on the top of the vehicle.

Then come the pigments, similar effect, smaller sized area. Using a wet brush (moistened with the appropriate diluent, it being water, turpentine or something else the mud product in question uses) gently remove some of it,, “washing it back”. This is an important step. You can also use paints to modulate the color of pigments (oils, acrylics, watercolor, tempera -whatever you fancy.)

Then come the darker, wetter mud, – again pigment, or pigments mixed with some volume giving material, Adjust, remove some using an old brush again. If you use a special made product, like AK’s mud, make sure you add some volume to it as well, as it is only a thick slurry, and will not give the results you see on the photo on the bottle just by itself.

And on and on -working on smaller and smaller areas, with darker pigments. Some “wet effects” products can actually be used to simulate wet patches, too.

The final touch is to load a stiff brush with thin mud mixture and just flicker it onto the model as splashes -again, done in several sessions in several shades. The trick is to slowly build up the effect.

And that is it. Simple. (Riiigh.)

This same idea can be used with dust as well: apply, remove, apply again. In theory you do not actually need fancy products -pigments should be enough; however they do give a convenient way to get the color right -which is the hard part. Mud is different everywhere, depending on local geography, so keep this in mind. You may think that purpose made products will give you a shortcut to achieve amazing results, but the fact is you need to learn how to use them properly -and you can easily create similar “products” just by using pigments, plaster, etc as mentioned above.

A short intermezzo

Well, as they say I managed to deliver a running kick in my own nuts in February, and underwent laser eye surgery (PRK, not LASIK).

Well, the doctor promised it would be over in a week, and I would be back at work and my life by the next Monday. Well, it took me three weeks of sick leave, and on the 5th week my vision is still not very good, so no model building for me. (Although it would probably be amusing to do some minipainting with these eyes….) The ironic thing is that my mother bought me a 1:32 Tamiya Zero (she has never done anything like that before), and I still cannot actually see well enough to take a good look at the model. Oh, and there is a war in the neighborhood.

Anyhow, stay tuned. In case my eyes get better and the world is not animated in a nuclear war, I will start posting soon(ish.)

Trumpeter BTM-3 High Speed Trench Digger part 3

Technical issues: I am slowly running out of space in WordPress, so now I am experimenting. I can insert photos from link, but then there is no option for albums; please let me know if this format works.

Back to the build

Part 1 and Part 2.


Usually when I get to this stage I am fatigued of the build, and just rush it. So now I will try to take it slow. (Having several projects running is useful.)

First off: mud.

As I mentioned I am not good at making good-looking mud. I bought several products, several magazines, books on model building, read and watched stuff online, but it just does not work as well as for the professionals. I guess practice and patience; even the ready made products won’t save you from these (so why waste your money on them?) Why indeed.

I liked the above video because it is very useful in getting the right colors -this is crucial. I have several “earth” colored pigments but none of them are ideal when you are looking to get dried mud. Dry mud is light; most earth colored products are very dark (as dark as the real thing, without the scale effect taken into consideration). The second useful thing to learn -as with all weathering- is the matter of layers. Lots and lots of layers. (Since I want a really muddy underside, I used a much thicker mud in the beginning.)

First layer: AK’s resin base to give volume and some earth pigments. The results are not very good looking.

I sprayed earth and sand colors on the top part of the chassis to simulate dried mud. Not very convincing.

More layers using Tamiya’s concrete colored weathering paste and pigments. Getting better.

At this stage I added the tracks (also treated with a thin version of this mix, after painting).

More coloring was added using different, lighter pigments to give it depth, similarly to how the above video is suggesting, and for now the mud is done.

I had some internal discussions about the order of the next steps: paint damage, washes and filters. I decided to keep it in this order.

I started with the paint damage. I really want to show a used (but not overused) vehicle, kind of like an old agricultural tractor. Most of the chipping was on the digger part, but some rust is present on the cab as well. First step: applying patches and scratches of light green with a sponge and a brush.

These are filled out with Vallejo’s black brown with a brush, giving them depth. When all is finished, the edges are rubbed with a silver pencil to give a metallic shine to the whole thing.

The digging buckets received much larger chips painted by hand, as these receive some serious abuse while digging the earth.

The cab area is treated with lighter/brighter rust colors as the metal is much thinner here, and the rust is not polished off by the constant movement. (I don’t think there would be much rust on the digging apparatus.) Because I used pre-shading, chipping fluids are out, so manual painting is in…

I also added a lot of lighter dust color on the top and other parts of the vehicle using pigments, AK’s dust products and AK’s pencils.

The headlight was painted with Green Stuff’s liquid chrome… incredible stuff. It looks like real chrome. I felt it would be a shame to cover it with the transparent piece, so I left it bare.

Mystic Wargames: The Iron Lord (70mm)

Darn the face is out of focus… I will shoot another photo when I get around.

I did a review of this figure on Modelgeek. It is a great depiction of Perturabo, the Primarchs of the Iron Warriors. As character he kind of sucks (unfortunately the writers who were assigned to flesh him out did a very poor job at it so we have a moping, petty little fourteen year old), but the figure looks awesome.

And it is the first 3D printed figure I have ever seen…

Trumpeter BTM-3 High Speed Trench Digger part 2

I finished most of the assembly. The design of the digger part is, well, sub-optimal. The main issue is with the frame holding the wheel (a horizontal part going across the diameter of the wheel on the first photo). It is supposed to be assembled from three different sections per side (four parts altogether), and the gluing surface is tiny. You essentially have to lay out the plastic parts next to each other and glue them together where they touch. While keeping the whole thing steady and also straight in three dimensions with a gigantic wheel in the middle of it all (steps 32-36).

I built a rig using blue tac and books to do so. Applied glue to one side only first, waited until the glue has somewhat set and the parts were reasonably firmly attached to each other (but remained still flexible somewhat). I positioned the whole thing on the rig, set it up correctly, and waited overnight for the glue to set completely. Then I attached the parts for the other side. Frustrating.

Painting at last. I decided to do the lower chassis separately – the first time, really. (I know people do that: finish the two halves separately, add the mud and whatnot, and then mate the two together once done.)

I primed the whole thing with a light grey primer, and then added black on the lower parts, and where shadows should be. Then I misted AK’s third generation Russian green in three thin layers, allowing the black to show through. Again, this is also a first: I normally use a dark primer base so pre-shading is going the other direction: from dark to light.

I also worked on the tracks and the lower chassis; it took a while, but this is the problem with individual link tracks… one of the least enjoyable part of model building.

I also lost a wheel, the genius I am. I swapped two wheels with the MiniArt T-54-based APC, and realized I lost one of them. This kit gives the rubber rims separately, and I wanted to depict the MiniArt APC as a wreck. Now I have one wheel less…

Review: Takom 1/72 Chieftain Mk.10 part 1

Well, since I have a lot of other projects running, why not start another one? (I spent a week in Tokaj taking the family to my father-in-law, so I took a box with me to work on during the evenings.)

The box contains two versions of the Chieftain -only marginally different ones at that. I chose the Mk 10 because I like the camo on the box (and I will probably hate my life trying to paint it but it remains to be seen).

The model is OK with an important caveat. People at Takom should realize that a 1/72 model is not a down-sized 1/35. There need to be compromises made. This model builds up like a 1/35 model and sometimes it made me curse. A lot. When you pick up a Revell, Modelcollect, etc. 1/72 kit, it builds up into a nice, small but detailed model without the itsy-bitsy parts. Well, this does not. Just check out the instructions of the 1/72 and the 1/35 versions by Takom… in some cases the 1/72 is actually better the better model. (Just check out the gun barrel on the 1/35 model…) Better but with very, very tiny parts – it is essentially, a scaled-down 1/35 model. I had plans for the second one: perhaps build it for a different camo, or hand it over to a fifteen year old cousin of mine, but I can’t imagine how a relative beginner would fare with this model, and I can’t see myself building a second one of these… (The results ARE spectacular, though, so it is not to say the model is bad, but perhaps not for me a second helping.)

Anyhow, after much frustration I finished the build. There are a few things not attached yet because I could not mask the necessary areas with them on. We will see how fun it will be to paint it.

Trumpeter BTM-3 High Speed Trench Digger

Well, it is not as if I do not have anything else to finish, but I wanted to get started on something. Anything, really. The interior kits require a lot of thinking while building, so I chose this one.

Little did I know. This kit also requires some planning…

Anyhow, in about a week, working a few hours in the evenings, I got somewhere where the vehicle is actually recognizable.

By the way I saw this vehicle first in Kecel, in the collection of an excentric (and corrupt I might say) billionaire, and it was also featured in the T-72 Balkans on Fire T-72 simulator, which I like, but which is also impossible to actually play. (Hidden AT guns knock you out like nobody’s business, and I could not find a way to counter them.)

Vehicle at 6:25 mins

There is an incredible-looking Voyager update set for this vehicle, but I am not crazy enough to do it. Not to mention it would be a shame to paint it after… The chains on the digging buckets are something to consider, though.

Overall the fit is OK, though the chain and framework is somewhat wobbly. It should be assembled as an unit in one step.

I finished the interior using hairy sticks because I have not yet brought out the airbrush. (Before the surgery I was in the middle of the repainting of the living room…) I will do some weathering, and then continue with the exterior.

By the way the decals for the cab are stiff; not very good, especially because they were designed to go over knobs and whatnot, and they just do not conform to the varied topology. So if you are about to apply them to the driving compartment, make sure you cut them up, and apply them in small sections.

Back in business

Well, guess who had a mitral valve repair surgery. In short… It was a manufacturing fault which I found out about two years ago. The surgery was scheduled for November but for some reason I got the phonecall to appear in the hospital in a week on the 2nd of September. Which was all good for me but still scared the living daylight out of me.

The whole experience was very frightening (ever since I learned about the whole issue), about which I will surely write on my blog of palaver, but what is relevant here is that I shall be hopefully finishing up the old projects and doing new ones soon.

Keep tuned in I guess.


I have no idea who makes this figure – I got it from a Facebook buy/sell group (as I do a lot of stuff, because buying used is significantly cheaper).

He is about the size of a space marine (probably a tad smaller), which is to say, he is small. I guess he can be seen as a practice for the larger-scale version by Mystic Wargames which I am currently painting and reviewing.