Saturday, January 18, 2014

Thoughts on paint brushes and tank treads

Another Saturday at the hobby desk. I just got back from my local art supply store, Texas Art Supply, and a beautiful place it is too. The two paint brushes that I use most often have gotten to the "gotta throw them out" stage, so I got a couple of replacements. 

I know everyone has their favorite brush manufacturer. Some prefer to buy incredibly expensive brushes, the rationale being that they (supposedly) last longer. Others get the 10 for $1 Walmart brushes, figuring that since brushes don't last long anyway, you might as well go cheap. After trying both those methods and finding no real advantage to either, I feel that I've found a comfortable middle ground. 

Obviously, I have to choose a brush that is available to me without having to go to a lot of trouble to get it, hence my preference for the art supply store six blocks from my apartment. As all of my painting nowadays is microarmor (90% 3mm and 10% 6mm), I need mostly small, detail-type brushes. I actually use only three sizes: a size 3 for laying down a basic overall color (most Western Desert WWII and many early 80's NATO v WarPac vehicles were monocolored) and a couple of size 20/0 (a "spotter" and a "shader") for applying the few detail colors necessary. The company I've found that I like best is Royal & Langnickel. It's a brush that is a good quality and fairly durable, but still not overly pricey, i.e. about $3.00 each. They work very well with acrylics, enamels, and oils and I get 2+ months out of each before I'm forced to throw them out. Not a bad deal. 

Some thoughts on the subject of painting tank treads. Normally, when I'm doing NATO v WarPac vehicles, I paint the base color of my armored vehicle, then paint the treads light rust (for western made treads) or dark rusk (for Soviet bloc made treads) and highlight heavily with oily steel. Then, because I like the realistic "in the field" look, I apply a goodly amount of "mud" paint over the bottom half of the vehicle and then apply sepia wash inside the treads to simulate shadow and bring out the road wheels, idler wheels, sprockets, etc. but it has occurred to me that, given the liberal coat of mud, I might be able to completely omit the rust/steel step in the painting process. The same is true for leaving out painting the tires dark rubber on wheeled vehicles. 

So, let's experiment. I'll base coat one East German BTR-50PK (actually called SPW-50PK by the East Germans) and then paint the treads in my usual way and then I'll base coat another one without painting the treads at all. I'll weather both with "mud" and let's see if we can tell the difference. Here are the two vehicles base coated with Panzer Olivgrün:
And here are the treads of the one that has them painted:
As you can see, iPhones are pretty well totally useless for macro photography (or any other kind). Now let's paint the details and "muddy" the tracks. 

Here are both vehicles completed. The one without painted tracks is on the bottom:

I don't know about you, but I see no difference at all!  Once it's glued to a flocked base, it'll be impossible to say which is which. I think I can safely stop painting tracks for European-based gaming (Western desert is another matter, as there's obviously no mud there). Now I'll black wash and dry brush them and paint the few details that need picking out.

More next weekend!!

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