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Painting Guide
15mm Mercedes

The vehicle is from Peter Pig's 15mm AK47 range - set in 1950s-1980s African wars.
Stage 1 - Assembly & Preparation
Stage 2 - Undercoat
Stage 3 - Semi-Dry Wash & Wipe
Stage 4 - Basecoat Minor Areas
Stage 5 - Shade Minor Areas
Stage 6 - Fine Detail & Varnish


This model is a typical example of how to paint fairly large, smooth and flat or gently rounded surfaces which are required to look reasonably clean. If a more dusty and battered appearance is required then drybrushing should be used as the principal shading method.

Stage 1 - Assembly & Preparation
I used super glue to attach the wheels & reinforced this with small blobs of epoxy putty (either Milliput or green stuff is fine). Flash was removed with a sharp scalpel.

Stage 2 - Undercoat & Basecoat
Fairly dilute white acrylic was applied as an undercoat.

Once the undercoat was dry, a second thicker and less dilute coat of white was applied.

Stage 3 - Semi-Dry Wash & Wipe
Because the vehicle is white, there can't be any highlights for obvious reasons. When shadowing white it is often better to use a colour other than grey. Introducing a tiny bit of blue or brown to the white, as well as black, will create a clean or dirty looking white. In this case I have used a bit of blue for a slightly cleaner look, as I wanted to emphasise the difference between my dirty beat-up jeeps, and this gleaming presidential motor.

The semi-dry wash
Paint for the shadows is applied more dilute than the base coat, but it is not liquid enough to be a wash. Paint it approximately in the recessed areas and then, before it can dry, wipe it off the more exposed areas with your finger. (Make sure it is not dirty or greasy for artistic as well as personal hygiene reasons). After some experimentation I have discovered that the finger is just the right absorbancy for this. Tissue will remove too much paint and sponge tends to smear.

The finger-wiping technique helps concentrate the paint in the right areas and also provides a smooth transition between different shades of paint. Using a standard wash on this sort of surface, where there is little undulation, will tend to result in just an overall patchy covering. This will just make the miniature look dirty rather than emphasising its form. Also if you leave a wash to dry without wiping, you will often get unsightly tidemarks.

(The shading in reality was a little stronger than it appears in the above photo - my miniature photography is still improving).

Touching up
After the bulk of the shading had been done with the technique described above, more purewhite was used to neaten up areas such as the edges of the doors.

Stage 4 - Basecoat Minor Areas

Basecoat minor areas
Now that the main area has been fully shaded, the smaller areas can be done. The windows, tyres and metal parts were neatly base coated black.

Stage 5 - Shade Minor Areas
Drybrush metal areas
The metal areas were then drybrushed with silver using a small brush rather than a standard sized one to allow the small areas to be neatly targeted.

Shade windows
Once this still fairly messy business of drybrushing was done, the windows were shaded. Black and a dark orangey-brown were blended together to give the impression of smoked glass. The lighter lower areas help to give a vague impression of transluscency.

Stage 6 - Fine Detail & Varnish
Inkwash metal
Metal always looks best when inkwashed, because it smooths out the rather crude shading created by drybrushing and adds a realistic patina. For 'silver' metals I almost always use Games Workshop's brown ink, which is very dark and almost black. The ink should be diluted about 50/50 with water, so that it doesn't darken the metal too much.

One of the finishing touches was to paint a few letters and numbers on the license plate with a standard but very new brush. (As explained here, I don't use a smaller brush for fine detail).

I don't use a spray varnish as I have had a few past disasters. I'm also not fond of a high-gloss finish, although for a car it would be particularly appropriate. I use Humbrol Matt Acrylic Varnish, which actually has a slightly satin finish.

Painting Coloured Lights
Getting an effect which looks like a light is very difficult, because where in reality the light is made of transluscent plastic, on the figure it is solid and opaque.

The best approach is to paint the lights with a silver drybrush over metal. Then apply a coat of transluscent glass paint (for painting glass). These are sold in most art and craft shops and are highly transluscent, and conveniently available in water based as well as solvent based form.

In this rear view, the transluscent red effect on the tail lights, can (just) be seen.

2001. All rights reserved.