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Weathering Heresies

Image courtesy of Defense Link
Weathering 1/35th Scale AFVs

The basic idea behind weathering an AFV model is to make it looked used. It is not, as some modelers allege, an antidote for shoddy construction. The "standard" AFV weathering today consists of a dark wash followed with dry-brushing successively lighter shades of the model's base coat to "bring out detail." The resulting model looks very pretty indeed, but is it realistic? And what process occurs in Nature that leaves lighter paint on an AFV's raised surfaces and edges? None! To realistically weather a model we must mimic Nature -- we must simulate, in scale, what happens to an AFV in the field.


The key to a good weathering job is, like everything in modelling, good research. Vehicles in the desert will not be caked in mud while those on the Russian front will be. So in determining what effects to portray it is essential to know the subject's location and time of year and then determine the conditions. The best references for studying environmental effects on vehicles are real vehicles. I used to work around heavy forestry equipment that resemble AFVs in construction (in fact some fellers are based on old Sherman chassis)! Although the reader may not get the chance to go out to an active cut-block he or she may see similar vehicles on construction sites and industrial yards. Even cars and trucks can be a useful guide -- just look how that old rusted wreck in the neighbour's back yard has bleached in the sun!

The "Standard" method of weathering an AFV model today is to apply an overall dark wash followed by dry-brushing with successively lighter shades of the model's base colour. This method is so ingrained as to be the accepted standard at model shows, while modellers who have actually put some thought into weathering their vehicles are often passed over as amateurs at shows. I have actually witnessed this at a show a few years ago; I was listening to the judges discussing the AFV models in contest, one stated "This one looks as it should.", (he was referring to my Jagdpanther model), the other judge responded, "It's not dry-brushed, how about this one?", he was pointing to a Pz. I in over-all dark Gray, dry-brushed with white! So no one who weathers a model with any intelligence will stand a chance of winning.

All the problems which model builders seem to have with realistic weathering and the single reason the "standard" method is so popular is that modelers have confused technique with effect. What I mean by this is a modeler will mindlessly dry-brush a model, because this is what he (or she) is supposed to do, without thinking of the effect produced. I take a different approach. Rather than describe the various methods used, such as washes, drybrushing, etc., it is far more logical to describe a weathering effect and how to replicate it in scale.

1999-2002 Paul A. Owen - Articled reprinted from TrackLink with permission of the author. All Rights Reserved.
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