onsdag 24 juni 2015

How to paint vehicles the Viking way

This one's for Anne, who asked how I had painted my little Kübelwagen.

The vehicle in question
Well, unfortunately I didn't take many WIP shots while I was painting it, but I will try and explain using photos of other vehicles I have painted the same way. So, where to begin? First of all, painting vehicles is nothing like painting figures. Although in theory you could employ the same techniques you can't use them the same way.

For instance, when painting figures we are almost always trying to depict organic material; skin, cloth, leather and wood. Vehicles on the other hand are made out of metal or plastic and rubber. Secondly, vehicles often consist of very flat and angular shapes, curved at most, while ordinary figures are twisted, bulging, stretched or contracted, wrinkly or woolly.

Someone's Rhino I found on the web. Notice how the stark edge highlights make it look illuminated.
Therefore -- in my opinion -- you can't use edge highlighting on vehicles the same way you use it on figures. Edge highlighting will look weird, almost making the vehicle look like it's glowing. When dealing with large, flat areas, the most light will be reflected from the middle of the area, so we will have to do the opposite; highlighting the middle of the areas, and leave the edges dark.

Notice how this Special Forces Hummer doesn't seem to glow, and how the top of the bonnet and roof look almost white?
The top areas of a vehicle will also appear lighter than the bottom areas. For smaller vehicles it's often not worth it to do a gradient, but on larger it can pay off. Sometimes it's enough to use a lighter main colour on all the topside areas and a slightly darker colour on the sides.

On this armoured car I have used a lighter final highlight on the top surfaces to replicate the effect seen on the Hummer.
On particularly angular shapes some sides will always be in the shadow. To replicate this effect on the SdKfz 222 I actually used an even darker shade on the lower sides to fool the eye.

On this shot you can see the colour difference of the lower and upper sides. It creates the illusion of light on the upper sides.
Let's break it down:
  1. I painted the whole vehicle with GW Tau Sept Ochre.
  2. I painted the upper sides and top of the vehicle with GW Iyanden Dark sun, a lighter yellowish colour.
  3. I then highlighted the upper areas with Coat d'Arms Desert Sand (this took several thin coats) taking care to leave the edges darker.
  4. Finally I highlighted the areas facing directly upwards with Desert Sand mixed with a little white.
  5. A dark brown pin wash was used around all areas like hatches, vision slits and similar to accentuate and shade them. (A pin wash is a wash used sparingly and not all over.)
  6. Details like stowage, wheels and a small amount of edge chipping using a dark grey paint were then painted. 
There are exceptions of course. The kubelwagen was painted mostly the same way, but I used an off-white drybrush on the sides to accentuate the ribbed sides. A pin wash was used to add shadows under the ribs while the white highlight looks like sun glinting off the edges.
Notice the bright, almost white, highlights on the ribbed body.
On large vertical surfaces you can do a gradient going from dark to light upwards instead. Like the sides of this carrier. There are some small edge highlights on the rivets and edges of the fenders, but I'm still using the same principles. This is quite a small vehicle as well and a gentle drybrush to pick out the details are often more effective. I also added some streaks with a very diluted wash on the sides to add interest. I'm still using a lighter colour on the upper surfaces though, and a darker tone on the lower hull under the tracks.

The same approach can be used regardless of the base colour since the principles are the same. On this Olive Green Cromwell for example.

The same principles applied to this Cromwell. Note the curved exhaust shield on the right.
There is a final stage which can hide a multitude of sins, and that is dirt. A subtle drybrush on the lower parts with a muddy or earthen colour will look like dust and tie it all together. This can also be used to blend decals in better.

So to summarise:

  • Highlight the middle of large areas. 
  • Pin wash panel lines and around small details. 
  • Accentuate edges were wear can occur, but not all edges. 
  • Never edge highlight bottom edges (unless they stick out).
  • Use colour modulation, i.e. use lighter shades on upper areas and darker shades on lower.
  • Hide your mistakes with dirt.
I hope this was at least a little bit helpful Anne.

13 kommentarer:

  1. This was a very useful recap of the differences between painting figures and vehicles - I hadn't thought about it this way before. Skal!

    1. These are things that I have learned to use instinctively, but it wasn't until I had to sit down and write this blog post that I formulated my thoughts into words. It was a very interesting exercise. I'm glad you found it useful!

    2. I sure did, and have pimped it at my blog for you also:


  2. Very nice. I will have to read through this carefully before I start on my next vehicle.

  3. Thank you so much! This is a huge help to me as I would have approached a vehicle in the same way I do a figure. And I would have made a mess of it. The explanation on how light behaves and reflects off a metal surface is a big help. I've bookmarked this so I can refer back to it at any time.

    Sorry I was late, but I've been out of town.

    Again, thank you so much!

  4. really useful post, specially Leif for those of us who are not lucky enough (or don't have the appropriate space) to use an airbrush kit.
    I have my Kubel model half finished, but after this I will definitively will go for it, quite inspiring

    1. The theories are the same as with an airbrush, it's just a wee bit harder to get soft highlights with a brush. Glad you liked it!

  5. Good post Leif. Lots of handy info here.

  6. A really useful article. Many thanks, Leif.
    Since I've had trouble with vehicles for ages I'll try your idea the very next time. ;-)

  7. Very good tutorial Laffe! Also like your figurepainting very much.Ha en fortsatt bra dag.


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