Basics on how to add basic DAK style weathering to AFVs of all scales. It leans toward the desert campaign, but the techniques are universal.

Our DAK club logo. Custom made with masking tape and an airbrush.

  1. A SdKfz 251 from 21rst Century Toys is leveraged as the basis of this post. The finished vehicle was added to our club’s collection of static battlefield elements and props. Let’s get started!
  2. The 21st Century halftrack is first stripped of it’s detail parts and washed in preparation for paint.
  3. Once dry I masked off the front and rear license plates, as well as the driver’s armored windows with Scotch 3M blue painters tape.
  4. Like the Tiger 1 at the top of the post, the entire vehicle is base coated in a dark brown. In this case I used Rustoleum brand “Espresso Brown”. The color has a satin finish and is part of their “American Accents” line of paints. The can does not specify whether or not it is a lacquer or an enamel, but my guess would be that it’s a fast drying enamel as the can list the top ingredients as acetone, toluene, and xylene. Any dark brown base color would work however. I use it to add richness of color and depth once it’s over sprayed with the top coat color. It also serves to even out the base and cover up the factory applied camo scheme and markings. I intentionally let the color be slightly mottled with less coverage in some areas and left other areas completely unpainted, such as the driver’s front tire, as this will add even more variation and lend to the realism once we add the final color. Then everything was set aside to dry for the night.
  5.  I loaded the Iwata airbrush with Tamiya XF-60 (Dark Yellow). Using a combination of Tamiya thinner, distilled water and Isopropyl alcohol to sufficiently thin the paint. I know this mix may sound a bit complex or unnecessary, but I have found it to work excellent and give me incredible control when spraying acrylics. I don’t measure out specific ratios, but mix by eye, kind of like voodoo mixing, with a pinch of this, and a dash of that.
    The ratios are about:
    40% Thinner
    20% alcohol
    10% water
    30% paint

    I have used this color previously and have successfully sprayed Tamiya acrylics over the top of this base coat with no adverse reactions or adhesion problems. The brown enamel base coat had dried sufficiently to proceed with adding color. In this mix the water has higher surface tension than thinner which avoids making the paint too thin and runny. Alcohol evaporates very quickly, helping the paint flash over so you lay down a nice wet coat and avoid dry over spray. Now others may wish to use straight thinner or follow the paint manufacturer’s specific instructions, but I’m just sharing what works well for me.

  6. Because the alcohol flashed off as fast as it did we can move directly onto the next step. I created a very diluted mix of XF-60 Dark Yellow and XF-10 Flat Brown. About 2 to 1 mix Dark Yellow to Brown, and then thinned heavily about 20% paint to 80% thinners (50% Tamiya thinner, 10% water 20% alcohol).

    Once again I loaded the airbrush, but this time I cranked the air pressure way down to about 10-12 psi. With this really thin paint mix and low air pressure you have complete control over a very subtle application of paint. I did a free hand pass over the entire vehicle highlighting panel lines, edges of panels, rivet detail, and then I added some vertical lines and streaking to help break up the mono chromatic finish.

    This application is very subtle as the color is a variation of the base color. This is the very first step in the weathering process, and there are no stringent guidelines here. Work slowly and step back from your work often, keep you hand free flowing and try not to be too rigid in your application. You don’t want your lines to be straight.

  7. We’re going to add the first filter. Now you may have heard of different terms to describe types of washes and applications (sludge wash, pin wash etc.) and most washes are applied to specifically bring out or accentuate detail items. A wash used as a filter serves a slightly different purpose. Where a wash outlines or defines certain details, a filter is designed to add depth of color and variation to the overall painted surface. My preferred method is using high quality artist’s tube water colors. They have dense pigments, are easily thinned and once dried you can still thin, manipulate or even completely remove the water color filter from an area.
  8. The color of the filter is determined by the color of the paint you are applying it to. For Dark Yellow I used a combination of yellow ochre and burnt umber. I avoided thoroughly mixing the paints together so that once again I would have variation as the filter was being applied. Some areas have more of a yellow hue from the yellow ochre while other areas have a red brown streaky appearance from the raw umber. During this process I will often dip the brush in straight water to further dilute the filter as it is being applied to the vehicle
  9. The first filter is now on the entire vehicle and we’ll let it dry for the night. Tomorrow we can go back in and push the filter color around, thin it out, or completely remove it using nothing more than a damp brush. Next we’ll look at adding a few washes to make the details pop.
  10. Now that the filter has had a chance to dry, tonight we’re going to apply some markings before we add any additional washes or weathering. Obviously the idea here is to make all of the markings look as if they are painted on, as on the real vehicles.
  11. Whenever you use decals you run the risk of the dreaded “silvering” and at no time is this more apparent then when you try to apply decals over a flat paint. Personally I don’t like to gloss coat my models so I choose to add gloss to localized areas immediately under and around the decal. Since I work almost exclusively in water based materials, my only choice for gloss coating is Future Floor Polish (Johnson’s Klear in the U.K.)
  12. I apply several generous coat using a wide flat brush. To expedite drying use a hairdryer to added a little forced heat. The decals came from spare sheet of Tamiya’s Panther G markings. For this I’m only using the Bauklkenruz and hull numbers, which will also get some additional painting that you’ll see later! Ok decals are on and set aside to dry for a short period of time. Then I add one thin layer of Future over the decals to seal them in, protect them, as well as match them to the sheen of the surrounding paint.
  13. The DAK logos are going to be hand painted and for this I create a disposable stencil. I used the artwork from my Avatar here on this site and duplicated it in three separate sizes. I cut and paste them into a word document then printed them out on my printer. I used a x-acto to cut out the palm tree design and taped it to the side of the hull. Using a diluted mix of white/ ivory thinned about 85% thinner to 15% paint, I set my air pressure once again to about 10psi and airbrushed the DAK logos.
  14. Once the logos were airbrushed I went back in and touched up the hull numbers. The Panther decals were designed as a broken white outline, with a hollow center, mimicking a stencil. To add interest and break up the monochromatic look of a solid Dark Yellow vehicle, I mixed a red brick color and applied it with a small round brush.
  15. Once the numbers were painted I loaded some thinned Dark Yellow into the airbrush and over sprayed the decals and painted logos. By using the body color the markings start to blend into the rest of the body and take on a more painted on look. We’ll continue this process as we get into weathering, but for now the decals need some time to dry overnight.
  16. Next, we’ll start by softening and blending any of the stark areas and hard edges caused by the filter washes drying quickly. While the water colors are still wet it can be difficult to move them around, but once they dry you gain a tremendous amount of control.Using a soft flat brush moistened with water simply brush areas where the paint has caused a hard edge. Using vertical strokes works better here as any streaking that may result will look like stains from rain or moisture that has run down the sides of the vehicle.
  17. Once I have gone over the entire model, it takes on a very blotchy and modeled appearance. I then take a soft cotton cloth (t-shirt material) dampen it slightly and lightly wipe over the entire vehicle. This helps to eliminate brush strokes and tie all of the filter washes together into a single consistently random finish.
  18. Once I was happy with the over look and tone of the base color with the filters applied and softened, it was time to move onto adding a pin wash.A pin wash is simply a very thin wash applied with a small round brush to help details pop or stand out. Pin washes are relatively easy to apply and can add a lot of depth to the finished model. These washes are generally applied to panel lines, rivet details, recessed areas and to outline raised details such as headlight mounts, hinges, and clasps.
  19. I chose a dark brown (raw umber) for my pin wash. I use a dark color to accentuate detail. You definitely want to show contrast to the base color, and this is what makes molded in panel lines look deeper as if the panels are truly separate pieces joined together. Try to avoid black, it’s entirely too stark and ends up looking toy like. Stick to dark browns and grey, or a mixture of the twoDuring this process you do not need to be precise. If the wash flows outside of the panel line, no worries! We’ll clean that up once the paint has dried.
  20. In these two pictures it is easy to see the before and after shot.The first picture shows a brown pin wash applied to an outer road wheel. You can plainly see that not a lot of care was taken to make the wash evenly spaced or a consistent diameter.
  21. The second picture shows the wash being pushed into the raised lip between the rim and the rubber tire. The staining around the center hub has also been softened, to help create a more realistic look.You can use the brush and like a pencil eraser. Erasing, thinning, and softening the dark lines as you work. This technique highlights details, creates oil or fluid stains, and adds contrast to different areas of the model. Try and work as loosely as possible, not too rigid, let the brush and water flow around details where it naturally want to accumulate.

    Overall I’m pretty happy with the filters and washes, and the variations are subtle yet apparent. Moving forward the next step will be some detail painting, and adding paint chips and scratches. Then we’ll finish up the project with some final airbrushing and pastel work.

  22. Start the process of adding chipped paint effects. This is one of those processes that simply takes a lot of time and practice, but once you master it, it adds an incredible amount of realism to your models regardless of scale.Choosing the right color to represent bare metal can be the challenging part. I usually choose a very dark warm grey. When I talk about a warm color I’m referring to the hue. Colors have either a cool or warm hue to them. Cool colors have a blue hue, while warm colors have a red hue. A warm grey for example will look more like a brownish grey.
  23. For this step, you want the paint to be thin enough that it flows off of the brush easily without being runny. But you also need the paint to be pretty opaque, so water colors do not work well for this application, stick with the acrylics.
  24. Using a small round brush I add irregular and very sharp edged angular patches of metal color. I usually start along sharp edges and high wear areas and work out from there. This effect can easily be overdone, so work slowly and examine your work often. This truly can make or break your model, so if you’re using acrylics this is just one more opportunity that you will be glad you can Windex it if you need it.A colored pencil is the most effective way to perform a scuff rather than a chip. A set of fine artist pencils can last a  few years.