Soviet Steel – Painting the Mammoth

After a brief hiatus the time has come to paint my Mammoth.    There’s an article on building the mammoth where you can see that I’ve undercoated the beast in Olive Grey Green.   This has then been given a gloss varnish to try and protect the paint against rubbing and chipping.

The next step is to do some quick highlights on the green before sealing again with Varnish.       With the Varnish dry I’ll apply decals using microsol / microset to soften the decals into place and give them a painted on look.  I use Gloss Varnish for these intermediate steps for a number of reasons;

  • In days gone by using gloss would help minimise the shine that you get from the transparent decal backing.
  • The gloss surface makes it easier for the decal to be manoeuvred into place
  • Gloss varnish offers a better protection than matt varnish is what I’ve always been told (not sure if that’s a myth!)

This sounds a long winded process but with my trusty cheap airbrush it takes about an hour for all steps start to finish.    The lengthy part comes when we start oil washing.

I’ve done a number of posts on winter whitewash weathering using chipping fluid and hairspray.   I’m using hairspray on my Mammoth.   I will lightly coat the model in hairspray focusing particularly around areas where there will be a likelihood of parts rubbing together or scraping on things and the mammoth moves.   Then as with other vehicles we’ll cover the vehicle in a very pale grey colour first, followed by a light dusting of white in areas where we would expect the light to reflect.

After drying I’m using a stiff brush and some warm water to soak through the acrylic paints and dissolve the hairspray underneath.   This allows me to rub away areas of paint and make tears and scratches in the white wash, giving a worn affect.

With the scrubbing finished I’m now using a small sponge dipped in white or green to both add additional highlights and also create smaller areas of chipping and rubbing.    This gives a better scale rubbing effect in my opinion as the chips created by the scrubbing of the brush are often too large or blocky in my eyes for this scale.

Again this process probably looks and reads like it takes a long time.    The reality is we’re looking at about an hour or two of time and about 20-30 minutes of scrubbing/ chipping with a sponge afterwards.   By far the longest time sink is waiting for the varnishes and hairspray to dry.

Now that I’m happy with the finished chipping I’ll give the model yet another coat of varnish, this time i’m using a Satin varnish because this is what the people who make my oil washes recommend as giving the best surface for the washes.

The most important part of this step is patience.    The Varnish needs to be 100% dry before  I oil wash or I’ll be in danger of damaging my acrylic paint with the oil washes.

Firstly I’ll be using a filter set designed for Winter vehicles.   I’ll use the brown filter first and then when that’s dry I’ll apply a grey filter which really brings the white wash together with the green.     Once this is dry I’ll be sealing this with yet another coat of satin varnish!     Even with a model this size we’re looking at about 30 minutes of application time for both washes followed by 2-3 hours (at least) of drying time per wash.   This is the perfect technique for people who like painting in short bursts in between other projects or activities.  I’ve sealed these filters in place because of what I want to do next, streaking.

With the Varnish dry I’m happy that we’re almost finished with the main painting on the model.     Now I just want to add streaks, rust and mud.   To add the streaks I’ll be painting distilled white spirit or turps as we used to call it onto the surface of the model.

With the surface prepared I’m then adding a small amount of grime to the model and using a thin brush dampened with white spirit I’ll be dragging the grime vertically down the model giving a very subtle streaks of slightly darker patches of paint work which when dry and varnished will give the appearance of rain and melting snow creating areas of slightly cleaner paint on the side of the vehicle.   I realise this might seem like a lot of work, but this I’m doing purely to learn a new technique,   I’ll be using streaks on my invasion force for Operation Sealion and the Mammoth is the perfect test vehicle to hone my technique!

With these streaks added I’m going to seal again, because I don’t want the rust work that I’ll be doing to now damage or mess up what’s below, so another coat of varnish is going on.        After this I use a combination of Vallejo Smoke Wash, Game Air Rust and Game Air Orange to allow me to create areas of rust streaks around likely rust points where paint will have been chipped.   Once this is dry I’ve sponged powder burns onto the barrels of guns and soot around exhausts etc.

The final job before matt varnishing is to add mud to the dozer blade and the legs to simulate the effects of moving across rough ground during the Russian Winter and Spring.       This is the easiest job of the lot.   I use an old and ruined brush along with Vallejo Mud pigments along with GW Agrax Earthshade to make a paste of clumped pigment and dirty grainy wash.  This is liberally applied to the lower legs and once I’m happy with the effect I set it aside to dry.

After a final coat of Matt Varnish my Mamoth is ready to take the field!   This is an excellent model by Warlord Games and Clockwork Goblin Miniatures.    Mine was supplied by Boss Miniatures.   It’s been a joy to paint from start to finish.


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