Tutorial: Painting 1/72 armour using layers

I sometimes get questions about how to paint vehicles so I thought I would put together a short tutorial using some 1/72-scale WW2 tanks. I use two different approaches to painting vehicles. This post addresses using a black primer and full strength paints. A separate tutorial considers washes using over a white primer.


Prep and Priming: You can figure out how to build you own model. Once built, I prime with a can of cheap flat black spray paint. This gives the paint something to grip onto. 

Base coat: Once the primer has dried, I then spray on the base coat. Below I have used a Tamiya dark yellow over top black primer on a Hasegawa 1/72-scale Panzer IV F1.


Drybrush: The base colour leave the model looking pretty flat. I then drybrush the model with paint that is slightly lighter than the base coat. In this case I used an acrylic sandstone. This adds some highlights to the raised details (below). But it also can leave the tank chalky looking. After the drybrushing, I will also block in the details (e.g., painted the treads and the MG barrels with gunmetal).


Magic dip: The final step is to add in some shadows using the magic dip. The magic dip is a wash comprising 1 part black/brown paint mixed with about 20 parts Future floor wax (now sold under the brand name Pledge Klear with Future). I keep a separate pot of dip mixed up so I don't have to make it each time. The dip will also ruin your brushes so use an old brush to apply it. 

Painting this wash over the figure darkens the model and the colour runs into the recesses to create shadows. You can most clearly see this on the turret around the circular viewport. It also mutes the chalkiness and pulls the model together.


Dullcoat and decaling: The magic dip leave a shiny finish. I then paint on a matt finish (I use an acrylic one), although you could also use a spray version. Then I add some decals and take a quick look to identify the errors I made building the model (e.g., the sloppy job on the view port on the side of the turret).


You can likely get better results using a more complex technique but this gives fine results (for wargaming) with minimal effort. Working in batches of, say, three to six tanks and excluding drying time, you can get a finished product in about 15 minutes per tank.


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