Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Airbrushless Camo

I picked up a great hobby tip from a fellow Flames of War tournament player back in February at GenghsCon 2014.  I was commenting on his wonderfully painted German army and happened to ask about the camouflage on the armor assuming it was done with an airbrush.  To my surprise Ian proceeded to describe how it had all been done with chalk and a cut down paint brush.  It had a very nice soft edge unlike many brushed on schemes.

Sorry, the photo just doesn't do any justice to the work.

I was never able to get a good photo from him but I did find one I snapped with my phone.  It's poorly shown above zoomed and processed.

Admiring his army very much I decided I'd make an attempt.  I've resisted getting an airbrush for various reasons and as such have been rather slow to paint late war German vehicles.  I have an entire German Armor company I am working on and some Open Fire StuG's that have been sitting in Dunkelgelb for more than a year that are badly stalled because of my caution to paint late war camouflage without an airbrush.

Never the less I wanted to give this a try on a single vehicle and I thought I could give it a go as a support vehicle for my 15mm German Bolt Action force.  I chose a recon vehicle with the HE (High Explosive) stat for extra pinnig power, the SdKfz 223.  I even found a picture of the Fallschirmjager riding with the reconnaissance battalions in Italy as some sort of historical justification for having it in the list.

shhhh! My FJ force is for Normandy not Italy...and that's an MG not the cannon version
First I picked up a cheap set (~$5US) of chalk pastels at Michael's.  Be careful not to get the oil based pastels, you want the chalk type to give you a nice soft edge.

Lots of extra colors for the kids
Next match up as best you can the colors for late war camouflage.  Take some fine sand paper and grind down the chalk into a fine powder.

It's going to have to be close enough.
I took an old brush #2 and cut it down to a stub.

The model is primed black, drybrushed with Vallejo Middlestone several coats and highlighted with 50/50 Middlestone/Buff.  Now take your powdered chalk and paint/stipple on the camouflage pattern you want.

Here is where I thought this was a partial fail.  The chalk just didn't stick as well as I'd hoped and was not bold enough for my taste.  To fix that I took some paint (Reflective Green and Camo Medium Brown) and did a very small amount of stippling in the center of each swath of camo ala Jon of WWPD's method.  I think that helped to correct the color a bit as well.  That is followed up by a overall magic wash (brown ink with Future floor polish), decals, details, crew, and minimal weathering with acrylics.  I also tried for some dramatic edge highlights that I thought came out pretty good.

A little HE coming soon to the Bolt Action table

The wheel is NOT crooked, the terrain is uneven

It's a very soft and worn look, perhaps I should add some chipping next time

That's it, not too exciting but a method that I think has some potential.  I'm unsure if it would be any easier than the WWPD technique but I think it might be a little more forgiving than the all acrylic's method.  I think the stubby brush is the way to go along with mostly stabbing and stippling for the effect.

I'm back to painting a bit and am working on a few more posts so I hope to have some more to share very soon.  Be sure to add this blog to your reader and drop me a note (even if you hated it).  Stay tuned.


  1. That gives a nice effect, I might give that a go. I'm quietly terrified of airbrushes! They seem like a really fast way to mess up a lot of models!

  2. I feel the same way. This Bolt Action project gave me a chance to try it out without having to commit multiple vehicles. Thanks for looking.

  3. Really like the effect, have had similar experiences with airbrushes, partly because have bought the cheap ones, but nevertheless. Gonna go hunting for the kids chalks first, to see if I can get something to experiment with. :)