Category Archives: weathering

1:76 TOG-II Giesbers Models 

This was always something of a holy grail for me … The obscure and unknown TOG-II achieved a mythical status thanks to World of Tanks, where it is a playable premium tank , giving birth to a multitude of memes.

I also had the fortune of seeing the original in Bovingdon… (Follow the link for photos.) It looks so absurd, so strange, you just want to have a scale model of it.

There is only one company that I know of that produces this tank in a model form, Giesbers Models.

I have been aware of this model for a long time, but the really high shipping costs always held me back from ordering it. However in 2021 I finally took the plunge and ordered this model and the Vickers Independent (another strange tank on the list of must-haves).

The model is a classical small-scale resin model in the favor of Cromwell Models, Armory, or Hunor Models – a sturdy little box, a few parts, lots of flash, and some pouring errors… The biggest problem with the model are some casting issues: on one side where the side-sponson would have been mounted it looks like the resin poured into the edges. Also on the turret the resin looks like it is flaking off in layers. The gun itself has some problems, too. The shape is a bit of an oval, not circular, and the “peeling” effect you can see on the turret is very much prominent there, too. The detail on the muzzle break is not exactly sharp, either, and will need to be drilled. These are just your bog-standard “garage kit” issues. The other big problem is surface. This model has a lot of it, big, flat surfaces, and they are far from perfect. The master of the model was obviously produced using 3D printing, and the layers from the printer have not been smoothed away. They are very prominent after you prime the model. Obviously you can sand them off, but then you have to replicate all the fine little detail you just destroyed. Very unsatisfactory, honestly; you would expect some pre-production work on a model.

The cleaning of the parts took about thirty minutes, assembly approximately twenty… so not a complex model for sure. (It is a hilariously long tank when put next to other small-scale models.) I did some sanding, but decided against spending hours and hours with a sanding stick, so some layer marks stayed. They are very prominent on close-ups, but when you view the model with a naked eye it is not that bad.

It took me some time to figure out what sort of paint scheme I want to use -since I did not like the one it actually has in the Tank Museum, and I decided against the usual “boring” green. I just “stole” a desert pattern the British used in Africa -although I highly doubt this tank would have been transported to that theater. (Maybe the in-doors swimming pool I always supposed it had inside would have been useful there.)

Overall I really am happy with this model since this was always something I wanted to have on my shelf, regardless of the issues it presents. However, just as with the Independent, the HMS TOG would also benefit from a 1/35 full interior version.

Blending with oils

Well, mini painting is definitely a challenge for me. The different techniques -blending especially- with acrylics are kind of difficult and they take a long time to achieve. It is a lot of practice and patience to force the quick drying acrylic paints do things they would not be doing normally -too much for me, to be honest. I did, however, find the light… in the form of a couple of youtube videos.

One of the most useful -or rather, eye opening- was this one:

So obviously I decided to give it a try. I used a Warlord Titan head by Forgeworld as a test piece. (As a side-note: JESUS CHRIST, IT GOT EVEN MORE EXPENSIVE -it was about 60 quids when I bought it a long, long time ago).

It has been painted in a blue/white scheme, but was just sitting in the “to do” pile” as it looked very bland and clean, and I had no idea who to proceed apart from adding some stains and streaks. But now… I have been using oils on minis before, but this was, I think, the most extensive use yet.

As per the video I based the mini with white and blue paint, and started adding different colors.

With the white I went with a dirty look (not that kind). I added raw umber out of the tube to the edges, and using a dry brush I spread it out a bit, adjusting constantly. It made the surface used filthy and also three dimensional, by adding some shadow effects as well. Then I picked burned umber and repeated the process on a smaller area (signifying darker shadows, closer to the edges), and repeated it with black using it on a very small surface. A day or two after I used a brush moistened with ZestIt to remove some of the paint, adjusting the effect, and to create some faint streaks.

With the blue I went with a similar route first: adding darkened spots, shadows to the edges, lightening up the middle with lighter colors. However I also added highlights to the panel edges as an experiment. It something that is not easy to do with a brush, and which requires a lot of masking with an airbrush. The results were pretty impressive considering the amount of time and effort they took (which was very little). First I used a light blue color to create a gradient, and then repeated the process with white on a smaller area -and it is done. If you want to smoothen it even more, you can adjust it with a slightly moistened brush after a couple of days of drying.

Really simple, really effective. The drawback is that the paint takes a long time to dry. However it is not as if I do not have a ton of other projects waiting for me to finish… So here it is. A simple, fast way to blend. Not sure if I will get a Golden Daemon for it (well…) but as a technique it is more to my taste: does not require an immense investment of time and effort… The lazy man’s blending, I guess.

The head is not yet complete – I will add some more tonal variation, some streaks, etc, once the paint had dried, and I can seal it with varnish. I will also go over the Imperial Knight I built to spice it up a bit.

In the process of blending
Finished article (for now)
Adding dark paint to the corners, bright colors to the middle

Finished

Raw umber applied

I quickly painted the gold edges to give a better idea how it will look

ICM Marder I on FCM 36 base

If you want to read a review of the model, I published one on Armorama. I only learned about this tank destroyer from World of Tanks where it is an incredibly overpowered tier III premium vehicle.

In short: it is a simple, easy-to-assemble kit of a cool little tank destroyer. If you are a fan of this vehicle in World of Tanks and have no modelling experience, it is actually a model you can build with ease. If it was not a review sample coming with its own paint-set, I would have painted it in the “green grove” camo from WoT. ..

The paints performed admirably; the only issue I have -which might not be an issue at all- is that I find the base yellow (dunkelgelb) provided way too dark. (It is “middle stone” in the paint set.)

What I did was to use it as a base layer and “modulated” it with Mig’s Dunkelgelb…

I used silly putty for masking, and added the other two colors of the camo. The paints performed perfectly well; I had no problem using them with airbrush or brush, although they needed to be diluted with water heavily. (The paint is very thick,) Which is fine as you get a lot actually in those tiny, 12ml bottles.

Weathering…

I started with filters -ochre, brownish, a touch of green.

Then came the chipping, the wear-and-tear and rust inside: the trusty German Black Brown applied with a 0 sized brush. I applied some scratches and whatnot on the superstructure, and added a little bit of rust streak to some of them. (Most of it is hidden by the dust layers…)

Dust and mud were adding using these products mainly. The very light brown “light sienna” was a transformative product (any pigment would suffice, not just Vallejo’s); after all dry mud is almost grey in color. (One of my constant struggle with mud has been the unrealistically dark color.) The structured mud by Green Stuff World is essentially the same thing you can get from Tamiya or Vallejo- a thick paste you can dilute with water, and mix it with pigments, ink or acrylic paints (or anything water-soluble, really). There was no strict order or method – generally I tried to apply the lighter colors on a larger surface (dried, older mud, dust), used a wet brush to remove some of the material using vertical strokes, simulating rain and other effects, waited until it got dry, and went ahead with a thicker, darker mixture on a smaller area. I also applied some splashes using an old brush and a piece of card on the lower hull using several different shades.

Turpentin alternatives

A quick post about turpentine alternatives (mostly as a note to myself).

Turpentine is smelly, but more importantly, it is also quite toxic -not to mention flammable. (Even the odorless terpenoid is quite toxic. Aromatic compounds are not good for your health as a general rule.) However, since oil paints are part and parcel of scale modelling, not to mention enamel-based weathering products (such as AK’s  and Mig’s  weathering range), you are forced to use it. (I am still experimenting with water-based oils.)

I found two viable alternatives, which I would like to share. While they are certainly better than the original, they are still not healthy for you. It is still important to have proper ventilation.

Zest-It

I have been using Zest-It for diluting oil paints, prepare washes, apply filters, and cleaning brushes. Perfectly serviceable – I can only recommend it.

Turpenoid Natural

Now, just because “natural” is in the name, does not make it healthy. (Arsenic is quite natural, too, after all.) I have not had the chance to use it, but once I run out of Zest-It, I will probably give it a go. It claims to be non-toxic and non-flammable, which, in my book, makes it an acceptable compromise even if the performance is inferior to turpentine’s. (It does mention a maximum mix ratio, which suggests to me that it may not perform as well as the good ole’ turpentine,

Chipping/worn effects without Chipping fluid -Mig Ammo-style

OK, I just realized something (by accident): the solvent in the Mig Ammo filter dissolves the Mig Ammo acrylic paint… Never had this issue with Tamiya paints I normally use, so it must be a Mig Ammo paint specific issue.

If you want to use this as an intentional chipping technique, the trick is to use a brush and gently rub the surface- in no time you will uncover the primer. Now this can be a bad thing, when you do not expect it (like I did not expect it…), but I chose to look at this as a happy little accident.

My Ferdinand is somewhat chipped… although the underlying color is dark grey -not the best for chipping.

Looking at the results I managed to get a rubbed-off, worn effect – not stark chips you would get using salt/hairspray/chipping fluid/sponge. I think I will put this to the other methods I have been experimenting with.

Das Werk: 1/35 FMG 39 / FuSE 62 D „Würzburg“ Part 2.

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OK, the last part of building the radar: weathering.
I did go very lightly on weathering, since these things were mostly stationary and well tended – no knocking around and muddy roads for them, ergo no sratches, paintchips and mud.
 

Some light filters, a dark wash, very light layer of dust, and a light overall wash of Vallejo’s oily earth on the platform; pretty much that was it.

AK Interactive’s Still Water- review

 

So. AK Interactive’s Still Water.

This thing.

The AK Interactive webpage has the following to say about it (bold mine):

Still Water is a liquid crystalline product specially designed to reproduce the effect of clear still water on dioramas and vignettes. Still Water is self-leveling and capable of flowing over uneven surfaces; apply thin layers, no more than 3 mm at a time. If depth is desired, build up thin layers. When applied on non-porous surfaces, such as glass, this product can be lifted and cut to desired shape. High quality acrylic product.
This product can be tinted with acrylics offering many possibilities. No toxic

Let’s see. I did not try to eat it, so I can’t comment on toxicity. It does stay crystal clear after hardening, which is great, and according to the description. Let’s see how the other properties function.

Coming out of the bottle it is relatively thick, yet it flows very easily out of the tip; be careful not to flood the surface.

NOTE: my aim was not to recreate a large body of water, such as a stream, river or lake in a diorama setting. That will be the topic of a separate post. I wanted to depict stagnant pools of water, either collected on abandoned vehicles, or puddles on the ground. I took a look at this product through this lens, which obviously colors my perceptions of it, however, the points about its properties are valid in any settings.

 

I took out two dioramas: the STALKER one with the T-62, and the Zrinyi II. I wanted to add water to both, which was the main reason buying this product. The non-toxicity and water solubility was the selling point.

I added small puddles under road wheels, in crevices on the ground, on the surface of the T-62 wreck. The product came out thick -it kept the convex, bulging form of a liquid with very high surface tension; it did not spread easily, even when encouraged with a brush. This made it extremely difficult to apply in thin coats, as the instructions suggested; the product does not spread easy. I thought the self-levelling part comes when it cures.

After hardening, I found that it did not self-level in the was I was expecting it to. The surface was not level in most cases -only where the product was applied in a thick layer.

The importance of surface

The nature of the groundwork was also extremely important: for the Zrinyi I used actual soil/mud hardened with plaster. This surface was torn up by the product, as it shiveled (dried) out, the edges curling upwards, tearing the water product away from the surface.

Not ideal.

The T-62 diorama was done using only Tamiya textured material for ground mixed with pigments; it served as a much better basis for the water effect. The product could not peel off the surface while it was curing. Apparently you need a strong bond between the particles of the groundwork for the product to stick to, otherwise as it cures, it will shrink on its surface, and this will peel off the whole thing.

Lesson one learned.

Self-levelling

How about being self-levelling? (Also a big must.)

Well, not exactly self levelling. When fresh, the product behaves as a liquid with a high surface tension. It does not spread out, as a liquid resin would, but it forms smaller or bigger blobs, droplets, like a somewhat thick soup would. You can help spreading it with a brush, but it has its limits, since it does not “wet” the surface it touches easily (due to the high surface tension).

This is how it looks when fresh and after curing.

 

As the product cures it flattens out, but it also has the tendency to wrinkle, and to follow all the irregularities underneath – so at the end you get an uneven surface. It simply cures onto the surface underneath in an even thickness. Applying multiple layers will not solve this problem: you simply increase the thickness of the product, you do not even the surface out. I wanted to put puddles onto the mud guards and the splash guard (the spillway being blocked by detritus), but as you can see regardless of applying the product in several thin(ish) layers, it refused to form a nice, even surface over the model. The leaves and other surface irregularities show through even after four layers. It looks a bit like water in the process of being frozen…

Weirdly I found bubbles that were present within the cured product, even though there were none when I applied them -or at least none visible. The high surface tension means that if you manage to trap air inside, or worse yet, manage to foam it up, it will not be able to escape. So be warned.

Dilution

OK, so it does not spread well, even when helped with a brush. What happens if you use some water and a brush? (Genius idea, eh?) So apply a generous amount of product on the groundwork, and add some water (about 1/10th of volume). It did make the product easier to spread. It did not foam so easily. But come next day, and…

…this is what happens: it becomes milky. The surface kind of looks like if it was mud saturated with water (which is nice), but the effect is not perfect, and the milky discoloration is very much not welcome. This also underlines the issue of tinting. The manual says you can tint this product with acrylics, but there is a limit of how much you can add.

Mixing with inks/paints/pigments

Since it is water soluble, it is a quite simple matter of mixing inks or water-based paints into the product. I used chestnut ink by citadell, since it was brown -although not exactly mud-brown, as we can see. It is for experimenting, anyhow; I wanted to see what it does when mixed with color -and perhaps salvage the foggy water effect on the Zrinyi diorama. I also applied a few drops onto the base of a space marine figure to see how it looks as a puddle. Without any staining the water effects did not show up very well; it merely looked like if the ground was shinier in patches.

With staining, it still formed an uneven, shiny surface after curing. (The first photo shows how it looks like fresh when applied.) I added three drops of ink – in retrospect it was too much. It might have given a more realistic result had I added only half a drop, instead of creating a chestnut colored slurry.

On the Zrinyi it may not have levelled the surface out, but on the bright side, it did look like fresh -and somewhat weird colored – mud. Success – I guess?

So what happens when I add pigments instead?

Well, it kind of looks as churned-up mud. The chestnut colored mud underneath even gives a slight color modification wherever the new mixture was thinner, giving it an actually quite pleasing looking mud effect. Overall, it looks like water-saturated, churned up mud that would suck you in if you stepped into it. I would call it success, although it was not the effect I was going for. (I wanted big puddles of brown water.)

Special effects

Let’s see if we can make radioactive sludge, lava or something similar out of this thing…

To make radioactive industrial waste, we just add a little bright, light green paint. Applied to the base of a few miniatures, the effect is actually quite nice, both applied thick (into the crevice of the base of the daemonhost), or thin – to the ground next to the boots of our Thousand Sons terminator. As an added effect I also put some more on top stained with a tiny bit of yellow ink. I have to say it is a pretty good effect.

The lava is a different matter. I added red ink to the product, and it formed a somewhat blood-looking pool at the foot of our Rubric Marine… so blood it is.

What happens if you prepare two different colors, and carefully blend them into each other? I can’t show the results, because I placed -rather carelessly- the instructions of the Armory Walker Bulldog I was building into the mix, but placing drops of the two colors next to each other to allow them to mix, resulted in, well, the two liquids mixing together completetly. I was hoping to create nice swirls and whatnot, but the liquid flows easily enough for it to mix completely.

 

Possible ways to use it

Well, small puddles on miniature bases were kind of successful. Without coloring it looks just shiny, somewhat inconspicuous. (It is difficult to see what the intended effect is if the product is not colored.) With some ink mixed in, even with a somewhat unrealistic color, it looks better -not as a puddle of water, but as a puddle of some sort of thick liquid. The issues with self-levelling are not as apparent in small scale.

If the base was suitable it produced a somewhat convincing effect, although it is visibly not level…  You need a flat surface to create large puddles to begin with. (The track-marks on the Zrinyi actually have somewhat convincing puddles.) Creating larger bodies of water were so far not successful, and neither was creating a smooth surface over an uneven base. One thing to note: once the product cures, you should stain the surrounding groundwork with a darker brownish color to represent the wet ground around the water.

You may be more successful applying the product to wet surfaces -although the groundwork, as we have seen- must be very well bonded, so you cannot apply it while the groundwork is still hardening. (It would make it simpler if you could just add the puddles at the same time as you build up the terrain.) As it is, if you pre-wet the surface, it might be possible to spread it more evenly.

Probably in dioramas, where you prepare a hard and even surface specifically for the water, it would work well (in a relatively thin layer) as the surface of a lake – we will see when I get around making a crashed Schwimmwagen diorama I have been planning a while now. For those ad hoc puddles I was trying to create it is less than perfect.

In short: it does not work the same way as the non-water soluble resins do: these resins do not lose their volume during the curing process, and they do tend to float easily, with very little surface tension, which makes them very effective in creating level, smooth surfaces. This product does shrink while curing, and it forms an evenly distributed layer over the surface it is applied to- meaning that any irregularities below will show up on the surface. In other words this product has a learning curve – a lot of experimentation is needed. The upside is the non-toxicity. (The resins, on the other hand, give off heat while curing, so they can actually melt the plastic if you apply it too thick, plus they are toxic as hell.)

Mixing in pigments, and applying it to an uneven surface will result in a very convincing, extremely wet-looking surface – just make sure you use multiple layers and multiple colors. For fresh mud, it is excellent. For bodies of water -not so much. 

Overall, it will not be the go-to solution for all your water needs, even though the non-toxicitiy and the ease of use makes it sound very attractive. It is absolutely true further experimentations will be required to master this product. I am planning to use it in a crashed schwimmwagen diorama to see how I can use it to form larger surfaces of water; I’ll post the results.

I think as with some other weathering products, the water solubility is its biggest weakness – the surface tension simply does not allow it to spread as easy. I found the liquid resin products (which are not water soluable) give  much better coverage, and they are actually self-levelling –  and as mentioned also highly toxic, and give out noxious fumes. Difficult choices -or perhaps not. Personally I would choose the non-toxic version even if I have to work harder to get a comparable result.

Dusting it up -Vallejo wash and AK Interactive pencil

We talked about the issues of gear acquisition… I can’t help myself, apparently. (OK, chalk it up to natural curiousity; it is not as bad as if I bought the entire range of both products on a whim, right?) While I am still trying to finally apply some paint to the Markgraf, I can do smaller projects. (Seriously; getting time to do some airbrushing is impossible… and since smaller projects will end up at the stage where airbrushing is required, it is getting more and more impossible as models pile up on the “to be sprayed” pile.)

So I have Vallejo’s dust wash (which I was playing with before), and I bought an acrylic pencil by AK Interactive, to see how it compares to my “normal” acrylic pencils bought in an art store.

 

 

I have chosen two tanks from my shelf – it is actually quite good to keep working on older models. This was Cromwell’s T29 and OKB’s UFO tank (Object 279).

What I did was to first apply the dust wash on the fenders and wheels, then adjusted the effect with a wet brush. This I did several times until I got a nice blend. Then I used the pencil (wet the tip, first), deposited some on the tank (only on a small area), then adjusted the effect with water. Sometimes I found it was better to make a “wash” in situ by adding a lot of water; sometimes I just feathered the edges to form a natural-looking dust deposit (on the sides of the fenders on the T29, for example.)

Here are the comparison photos -the before and after shots.

The dust did improve the look of the tank… It made the stark contrast on the lower hull and the fenders much better looking.

The pencil has a very light color, and it does produce tide marks when used with a lot of water (problem with all water-based products; the high surface tension drags the pigments on the side), so there is definitely a learning curve there. Just keep adjusting it as it dries, and it should be OK. It did make some very nice dust streaks on the vertical surfaces.

A little bit browner, darker color might be better for dust, but overall, not bad.

 

 

Well, the photos definitely need some improvement (the new light box does not seem to be very good), for one.

 

Let me know what you think of the results.

Trumpeter 1/72 IS-7

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Well, another tank I would have not known about had it not for World of Tanks.

There it is a top tier Soviet heavy tank; in real life it was, well, a Soviet heavy tank. The last heavy tank, in fact, in service, ever. It is a fairly obscure vehicle, so it was a very welcome surprise seeing it in plastic. (Normally you would expect small companies producing a resin version for a literal arm and leg.)

The Trumpeter kit is simple to assemble, and has pretty good detail. The whole running gear and track assembly comes as one unit, which, I have to say, was not a bad solution. It did make building quick, for sure.

After the Vallejo primer I layered citadell olive green with increasing amount of yellow onto the tank – it produces a pretty nice looking green for the tank.

I did some sponge chipping, a filter with Tamiya transparent yellow, and some blending with oils, a ton of filters, and acrylic pencils for the streaks and dust. The mud was Vallejo’s industrial mud mixed with different pigments. I think the results are not half bad.

Let’s hope Trumpeter does some other esotheric tanks, like the IS-6, T57, ELC-AMX, T-10, AMX-50 in plastic, too. All in all this is a neat little kit, worth picking up. Also, check this build out, too.