Flames of War Sherman Fast Painting Technique

I play Americans in Flames of War more often than not.  This means green (olive drab) tanks, lots of them.  I do not consider myself an artist, but I can sure get them looking above average – out of respect for my fellow gamers.  This article describes my Sherman Fast Painting Technique and the tools I use.  The purpose is to get the tanks as fast as possible to the gaming table.  It also allows me to build many models at once fast – I normally do at least two platoons of vehicles at the same time.  At the end of the article I link to other more advanced painting techniques.

Sherman Tanks and Tank Destroyers
Sherman Tanks and Tank Destroyers

Materials

  • Consumables
    • Superglue – Loctite Professional – This stuff sticks in 5 seconds.
    • Magnets – Rare earth / Neodymium – ebay.com is a good source.
      • Underside – 1/2″ x 1/8″ round.
      • Turret – 1/4″ x 1/16″ round.
    • Paint
      • Tank Primer – Vallejo Surface Primer US Olive Drab – I normally airbrush this straight from the bottle, but it can be brush painted if you do not have an airbrush.
      • Uniform / Commander – I paint in the same way I paint the infantry.  Battlefront has several guides.  This one shows colors from other manufacturers.  I normally use Vallejo 988 Khaki, the same brown I use for wood for the tank helmet, and Vallejo 70.955 Flat Flesh for the skin.
      • Wood – Vallejo 983 flat earth or vallejo 312 leather belt will do.
      • Tools, Tracks, MG. – Vallejo Surface Primer Black
      • Bags, nets, tarps and other stowage. – Vallejo 886 Green Grey.
      • Drybrush with Vallejo Iraquian Sand
    • Decals – Both battlefront and plastic soldier company make very good ones.
    • Washes – I make my own by mixing a drop of black or brown paint on SC Johnson Pledge Floor Care Multi-Surface Finish 27 OZ – those 27 ounces last a long, long time.
    • Weathering Pigments – Any chalk or pastel dust will do, such as the ones done by TAMIYA.
    • Clear Coats
      • Shiny – Badger Air-Brush Top Coat Matte – Yes, I know it says matte – but it is shiny.  Most importantly, it is cheap and it is easy to airbrush straight out of the bottle.
      • Matte – Vallejo Matte Varnish – I thin it with water and use a couple of coats.
  • Tools and Hardware

Procedure

  1. Assemble the whole unit with superglue.  Some bloggers suggest doing the tracks separate, and I have tried that, but I differ.  I like all of the spaces inside the tracks to be base coated in Olive Drab – they will acquire enough weathering and washes to darken them later.
  2. Magnetize – under the body and below the turret.  Keep the magnet polarity consistent across your army.  I normally keep a reference magnet so that I can always refer to it.
  3. Soapy Wash – after the glue dries, wash with soapy water to remove the release talcum that covers the miniatures.  This will help the paint stick to the min.
  4. Prime Olive Drab – I use the airbrush for this.  I start by priming the bottom and the tracks, then I place on a metal tray and airbrush the top part.  With some care, this should cover the whole mini.
  5. Paint Black – the tracks, machine guns, tools and any stowage that you think will look good in black.  Don’t worry about the tracks being a bit boring – once you do the drybrush they will come alive.
  6. Paint Details – Colors I use listed above.
    1. Paint Wood – tool handles, boxes, etc.
    2. Paint Other Stowage – normally nets, backpacks, tarps, etc.
    3. Paint the little commander, if any.
  7. Weathering pigments.  I use the chalk / pastel kind.  I like to use black on the tip of the gun barrel and on the engine area.  Rust / mud color on the tracks and on the underside of the vehicle.  I rub it on the surfaces with an old brush. I apply liberally, but you can always start with a small amount on your first models and then go from there.  The shiny coat will even the coloring out and will make it permanently.
  8. Shiny coat – I do this one by airbrush – it is just easy.  It helps in many ways.  The decals stick to the surface better, and the wash will flow easier into the crevices it has to darken.  It also offers a layer of protection to the model.
  9. Decals.  Do a few at a time, and cover with micro set solution for a flat look.
  10. Wash / Ink.  The floor finish + paint described above does wonders and I never run out of the colors I need.  After applying a liberal ammount, mop out the excess for the desired effect – while avoiding darkening the areas that should be light anyways.
  11. Drybrush.  I debate if I should do this after the wash or before it (and before the Shiny coat).  Doing it after showcases the detail better, I think.  Most people use an old hard flat brush for this.  That is fine.  I do like to use a round #10 or #12 brush with soft hairs.  I dunk it in paint, then remove most of the paint on a rag.  I test on my closed hand before applying to the model – test on the back of the hand – if you can see the details of your skin surface after the test brush stroke you are good to go.
  12. Matte Coat.  This one I do by hand with a wide brush.  I thin the matte varnish with water to avoid it whitening the paint.  It does requires two or three coats.  Like any wash or varnish, mop out the excess with a brush.
  13. Take nice pictures and post.  A different article on that one.

Links to Other Techniques

Articles Showing Tanks I Have Painted This Way