Chipped Paint Fever
by Mig Jemenze
These days, the medium modeller feels that he must to finish their models
with a lot of paint chips distributed all over the vehicle. His main motivation
is to think that if his model presents some of them it will looks more
weathered and, therefore, more real. And this small effect is turned into
a pitiless crusade that many times ends in a big paint chip with a tank
and not on the other way around. And most times, the modeller doesn't
even know what colour to use, what shape to reproduce or where that effect
must be located. This last point will become the main key to reproducing
chipped paint effects, even more than to know if we should or not to put
some chipped paint effects on our vehicle.
The paint chips are just like the inner rings on a tree, through which
much information is transmitted to us about that armored car or vehicle.
We can't put rusted chipped paint effects to the hatches of an operating
Sherman, because with all the handling done by its crew, it would never
be rusted. Likewise, we could not paint the same on a M113, as its alluminium
hull does not get rust.
But chipped paint goes beyond a rusty or worn surface. The paint chips
can be shown in a great number of ways, like small dots, longitudinal
scratches, scrawls, layers, etc. And each one represents a moment and
a little piece of the history of that vehicle. Thus, the first thing we
sould have to do is to think this stage correctly. We must start by asking
by ourselvels why we want to reproduce chipped paint effects, where are
going to be located and to check all of this with graphical references.
These do not have to be from the same vehicle necessarily but we need
a valid reference to follow. If we are using b/w pics, then we are in
trouble as we do not know what the correct colour to use is, or if we
are looking a real chipped paint effect or just grease or a water stain.
Only the experience and looking at equivalent colour pictures -in example,
Desert Storm Op. ones are excellent- will give us the correct answer.
Many known modellers drag a routine in the creation of chipped paint
effects. They use the same mechanical technique and the same colours on
any kind of vehicle, without realizing that the materials and the interaction
of the colors is different in every case. The interaction of a color is
the influence of one color on another, something which tends to alter
its final result. For example, a dark brown paint chip over olive drab
will appear almost invisible, but on a desert vehicle, the contrast will
emphasize it and it looks almost black. In the following reference table
that I have prepared, some examples of the most characteristic paint chips
effects on different surfaces are shown.
When we want to represent a subtle paint chip, caused by the vibration
of the vehicle or a small scrape, then we can appeal to these primer
chipped paint effects. The paint is lost at its last and newest layer
but there is no exposing of bare metal. Then the previous layers of
paint reaches the surface that, in many cases, can be a primer which
is red, gray, etc, but almost always the vehicle tends to have been
repainted with the same colour and the paint chip can be done with
a lighter shade of the base colour. This is a very easy to reproduce
paint effect and we do not take too much risk on our model as it is
easily corrected if we were wrong. We must give all of our care to
where to paint them and which shape it will present. We must avoid
regular, rounded, homogeneous or repetitious shapes. It is better
to make some small paint chips beside a larger one and we have to
make them in a way that always they are coherent to some structure
of the vehicle, an edge, a volume, an opening mechanism, etc. We should
never paint them on hidden or protected areas away from the effect
of hits or friction.
The drained rust chipped paint effect is one of the most used whose
results are always quite good. It give an aged character to the vehicles,
as these types of paint chips are present after a long period. With
orange enamel we will apply some paint chips, with diverse size, enrich
them with some fine vertical lines in their lower part that we will
stump later with the help of thinner and a clean paintbrush. Once
dry, we will apply a centered dot of darker brown colour in the previous
orange chipped paint. This example is very useful to make non working
or abandoned vehicles.
This is the typical deep chipped paint effect and it is same
that can be seen both in the desert or in Russia. It is an older paint
chip when compared with the ones above, so we can cover it with dust
or a light layer of mud. It is accomplished inversely that the previous.
First we apply the darker colour, and we enrich it with some small
dots around it. After that, and always in the center, we apply the
ligther orange colour, but without covering the darker base colour
on the edges. In the desert Chevrolet truck different examples of
this chipped paint type can be seen. Also it could have been done
only with darker colours as in the Pill-Box Panther, so we can achieve
older and still wet rusty chipped paint. Keep in mind that a paint
chip may present different colours if it is dried or still wet, newer
or older. A new and dry paint chip will looks orange but an older
and wet one will look red brown.
This example it is not a real chipped paint effect as
it is produced by the rubbing of objects on a dusty surface. We can
imagine a small vehicle, a Panzer Grey Horch, in example, in the warm
russian summer. The vehicle is taking more and more dust but it is forced
to be hidden in a small forest. The undergrowth rubs on its dusted surface
and this ends chipping off the adhered dust. Also its own crew will
cause those frictions and superficial wearing. Now we repeat the action.
Another dusty road day and again the friction. The different layers
are one over the others creating a kind of transparencies. We can simulate
this gray base colour effect, applied with a paintbrush over the dust.
Chipped camo schemes. Many camouflages were applied at the front.
Sometimes with good quality paints or with any other one available.
These improvised colours do not tend be as resistant as the factory
applied colours, so they were easily chipped. This was very common in
late war vehicles, or in both desert or winter camo schemes. We can
reproduce them as in step #1 now using the base colour over the camo
one. In this example, the base color is sand while the camo is green.
When the green paint is chipped off, the previous sand colour reaches
the surface. Take care. these effects should be done in the very early
stages of our painting works, even before the apliying of filters and
And, finnaly, the usual paint chip that has been
well spread by Uncle Verlinden during his more creative period. The
metallic paint chip. Perhaps this is the most difficult to reproduce,
as a wrong application or chioce of the colour can make our model looks
like sci-fi 23rd century Warhammer armour. We can think again of a M113
in Vietnam. In the jungle the hull was heavily clawed by the dense undergrowth.
The crew was always riding atop their vehicles to avoid mines and they
were contributing to these polished surfaces. We can try to use a little
amount of Humbrol Silver enamel and to mix it with a little of Olive
Drab, and then to directly draw the paint chips. The result can be outstanding
when controlled, but it's best to be careful than than try for too much.
We must to try to perfectly outline the cutting edges. These zones present
very fine and polished chipped paint effects. And remember that there
is a very easy way to reproduce them. with a pencil !!
The chipped paint world it is a wide field and we could devote a whole
modelling life to research them. It is an apparently insignificant effect,
but it gives real life to a model. That it is, perhaps, the reason that
it is so wanted by modellers. But they enclose many more mysteries than
we can imagine, and many times the best and most realistic chipped paint
effect we can obtain it is made by mistake. When we are painting them
on a model, it tends to increase in size, so it's hard for us to apply
them in a coherent way over all the surface and not get out of control.
I recommend you to paint the main "structure" of all of them
not too close to the model so you do not loose the perspective and the
scale. And after this, we can start to detail them or to make small dots
around these main chipped areas. Anyway, do not be afraid to make bigger
chipped paint areas. This is very usual and you can always hide them with
the dust work. You can see this on the M88 pics. Notice how the chipped
paint around the MG cupola is almost covered by dust while the other areas
closer to the most beaten zones are clean.
And some last advice. Always look at reality, at that caterpillar bulldozer
that it is working close to your home, at an old road sign, at the chipped
paint of your own car... and if you look at them closely and with care,
even you will find the way to reproduce them.
MIG - 2001