How Phil Is Painting His Hobby League Army

How Phil Paints

How Phil Paints
With Phil Yates

To me, the main thing about painting your miniatures, is that they are your miniatures. That means that you can do it however you like. The painting guides and Colours of War give some great ideas, and if you haven't been there yet, I'd recommend going over to the Big Four Of Late-War website to see some very inspiring work. As my painting style is quite different from that of most of the other Hobby League participants in the office, I thought I'd talk about it this week. I figure it might provide some different ideas... and perhaps make you feel a bit better if you are a bit messy like me and your models don't look like Victor's works of art!

My first step is pretty straightforward. I use a big art brush to undercoat the model in its basic colour. I usually keep the tracks separate at this stage to make it easier to paint them (although I often get carried away with the first few I build and glue them on!). I then paint the camouflage pattern on as part of the base coat.

I switch to the tracks at this point, painting the metal parts in a metallic colour and any rubber track pads in a dark grey (I don't tend to use actual black as very few things actually look black in real life). While some people avoid painting the tyres on the road wheels, I think it really adds an important element, so I usually do this tedious bit next. I usually paint the front part (that is, the bit towards the front of the tank) of each tyre first, then flip the track unit over to paint the rear part. That way my brush strokes naturally follow the curve. If I attempt to paint the whole thing without flipping it, the curve of the second half is all wrong and I make a big mess.

How Phil Paints

Talking about messes, I'm not a neat painter, so at this stage there's likely to be metallic paint on the hull and grey from the road wheels spilled over onto the road wheels themselves! Once they are all done, I go back over them with the base colour to cover up any mess that isn't supposed to be there!

So far, not that much different from many gamers I suspect, but here's where I get weird. You see, my wife's an artist and I went through an art degree with her, so some of the things I learned were about the scale effect of colour and about light and shadow.

How Phil Paints

On a scale model, this has two implications. The first is that since small patches of colour look darker than big ones, if my tanks are going to look the same colour as a photo of a real tank, they need to actually be lighter. The second is that big objects cast darker shadows than small objects, so if I want my tanks to have the same shadow pattern as a real one, I've got to exaggerate the shading.

Pictured Left: Notice that the leftmost tank has a brighter top than than the right tank.

How i do this is to go back and repaint the sides of the tank in a mix of 2/3 the base colour and 1/3 light sand (white tends to change the apparent colour, while light sand or light grey keeps them more even) and the top of the tank in a mix of 1/3 the base colour and 2/3 light sand (leaving the darker colour anywhere where there would be shadows). I know this sounds kooky, but it's actually what a lot of weathering and pre-shading effects are trying to create, just more explicitly in my case.

While it can look really strange when you are half way through, when its all done, the model actually looks like its all painted in the same shade, just it has more shadows than a scale model of its size ought to, closer in fact to the shading of a real tank.
How Phil Paints How Phil Paints

The next stage is looking at photos of real tanks to see what details stand out (things like head and tail lights, tools and equipment) that I can paint differently to add a little more detail to the model.

The last stage before decals is putting a black ink wash in the engine grilles to create the deep shadows of the engine bay inside, and using a fine black art pen to black line small features to bring out the depth of these too.

Click here to go to the D-Day Hobby League Landing Page