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Armor/AFV: Techniques
From Weathering to making tent rolls, discuss it here.
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Weathering/Mud of Tank Undersides
cabasner
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Nevada, United States
Joined: February 12, 2012
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Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2017 - 07:34 AM UTC
Hi All,

I have seen many, many articles and utube videos about weathering and adding mud and dust on tanks and other AFVs, but I haven't seen what I'm trying to figure out...how to put mud and dust on the bottoms (underside) of tanks and other AFVs. One might think this is obvious and of no consequence, but I have just started putting the mud and dust on the running gear of my partially completed DML Tiger 2, and I've realized that it's not so obvious! In a moderately dirty/muddy environment, I can see how the mud and dirt gets slung up onto the sides of the hull, but is it simply a matter of covering the entire underside of the tank with mud and dirt, merely 'slathering' the bottom with mud and muck? Or is there a more regular pattern that tracks throw up onto the bottoms of tanks? On the Tiger 2 in particular, with some of the widest tracks of any tank that I am aware of (if not the WIDEST tracks), do the tracks throw up a particular pattern on the bottom of the tank? Granted, the bottom of a real tank, nor a model, is not often seen, and I am not planning on entering this model into any contests, where every square millimeter is probably analyzed to the nth degree. But...I have begun displaying my models on glass shelves, where the underside could be seen, should someone wish to contort themselves sufficiently. So, can anyone give me any thoughts on what the underside of a Tiger 2, or any tank, for that matter, ought to look like, once running through a moderately muddy landscape? Thanks for any thoughts!
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Sunday, November 26, 2017 - 08:51 AM UTC
It kind of depends on the environment-- in extremely muddy situations, more mud and dirt will stick to the underside. In extremely cold situations, it tends to freeze there, in brown-gray chunks of "mudsicles" suspended from the bottom of the hull. But in dry environments, the lower hull will stay relatively clean-- with a coating of dust depending on how dry it is. Gravity plays a role here-- the drier it is, the quicker the dirt drops off. Another aspect of this is the roughness of the terrain the tank has been over-- I've seen M-60 hulls stripped of paint with long streaks of bare metal showing through, as the rocks, foliage and ruts tend to polish the paint right off, and dirt and mud also get brushed off too. This area is seldom re-painted, it's just hosed off at the wash rack, because it will re-occur every time the tank leaves the motor pool to go to the field. So, if I were you, I'd take a careful look at the environment the tank is going to be in which will determine how much dirt collects under the hull. Another thing you might think about is where grease would collect-- a leaking seal in a road wheel or differential cover will also collect more dirt, especially dust, but mud will just cover it up. Leaks around hull drain plugs will often stain differently and darken the dust-- especially if the plugs are removed (often to drain water and fluids from the hull). We frequently removed the differential cover drain plugs from our M113s to drain out water. My experience comes from being an Armor and Cavalry officer with experience in the M60A1, M113, and M551, but I doubt it would be much different for any heavy armored vehicle.
VR, Russ
TopSmith
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Washington, United States
Joined: August 09, 2002
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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017 - 08:32 AM UTC
I agree with Russ. As a tanker I spent some time under a tank. The paint on the bottom has been scraped and rubbed by running over trees, brush, cars, and stuff. Often we drove where there were deep ruts and the belly would rub the area between the ruts. Mud might be a quarter to a half inch thick occasionally. More than that gravity and moving would cause it to drop off. There was usually dust on the bottom unless you just came back from the wash rack. I never saw the belly repainted at the company level.
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017 - 11:01 AM UTC
I realized you were also asking how to represent these effects on the underside. A few years ago, I built a diorama of a British Mark IV tank (Emhar kit, highly modified with Panzer Shop tracks), crossing the Hindenburg line in November 1917. I wanted to represent the tank as it crossed the trench, with a large portion of the underside visible. After priming, I painted the underside in Floquil old silver (but any silver would do). And sprayed some random parallel lines from front to rear with the base brown-green color. Adding a little burnt umber overspray to a few of the "streaks" to give them some variety, until most of the silver was covered. Then, using fine steel wool, I polished off some of the green-brown paint leaving random streaks of "worn silver" showing through. Using Liquitex Ceramic Stucco and Blended Fiber effect materials (liberally dyed with shades of burnt umber and umber paints), I "stippled" this mixture along the sides of the bottom of the hull where mud would collect at the edges along the running gear and suspension (I used a very stiff flat 1/2" paintbrush cut down leaving about 1/8" of the bristles, and a 1/2 inch piece of foam rubber cut on an angle to apply this blend of paint and Liquitex). I then used Testors brown Acrylic weathing fluids along the projecting metal parts of the hull bottom, finishing with liberal applications of Burnt Umber thinned into a wash for the cracks and crevices. Since the action I wanted to depict took place in late November of 1917, I fugured the environment was fairly wet, cold and muddy. Therefore, I used the thickened and dyed Liquitex to build up large "drips" of mud coming off the tracks and underside of the hull. I did this by using individual fine bristles cut from a nylon kitchen scrub brush in random lengths and mounted in strategic holes drilled into the lower hull and tracks. Then, using a fine paintbrush, I built these bristles up with the Liquitex "mud" around the bristles to support the "drips". I also used this technique to model mud falling off the tracks at the front of the forward sprockets on the underside of the tracks. The effect is very realistic, and implies a measure of "motion" to the diorama. As an added effect, I ran the side and tip of a #2 pencil along the raised portions of the lower hull and underside, where the paint would be rubbed and scraped off. I also made some shallow dents with a dental burr mounted in my Dremel Tool to represent the "stitching" of machine gun bullets and explosion effects at the front of the hull, pressing the point of the pencil lead into these "dents" to represent the damaged metal. To me, it looks just like my M60A1 hull at the Grafenwhor Germany or Fort Knox training areas after a day of hard use in wintertime mud. If you don't have a tank to look at, go to a construction site and look at some bulldozers or earth movers to get an idea of how vehicle undersides might look in heavy use (ask permission first though!).
VR, Russ
Kaktusas
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Vilnius, Lithuania
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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017 - 12:28 PM UTC
The key is layers. Mud will not accumulate in one go. I always try to consider fallowing:
1) time of the year i try to depict.
2) area vehicle was operating (is there such thing as the roads in subj country etc)
3) sometimes i go too far away trying to figure out what was weather like during period i depict.
4) vehicles are supposed to be CLEAN if it is possible. Dirty vehicle is hard if not impossible to maintain, without soiling crucial components.
5) You only get mud fenders high if tank was stuck..... If it was, after it returns back from its mission, it is supposed to be cleaned of the excess.

So unless you try to depict tank in very sorry and desperate state... I suggest looking at panzerwrecks series, for given period/front. Those depicted there, are unfortunate machines. And in most cases, those are reasonably clean, and well maintained machines (and its not propaganda pictures, only showing nice and shiny ones). Someones life depended on how well that tank works, so keeping it in the best shape conditions allows is very important. I don't think anyone likes cleaning thick mud, so i suppose everyone tried to avoid getting stuck.
So amount of weathering will depend if you are depicting tank, that is prepared for days battles, or of it has just limped back home from hard days work. I personally like to have something in between. Some mud accumulation, but not too much. I go cross country a lot when i go fishing. So i got sort of "tolerance" to mud on my car. What i try to do with tanks, is to justify in period photos, how much tolerance did tankers have.
Now lets talk HOW.
I use mud splashes products. Using different stiffness brushes you can achieve different gran size of splashed material. Usually stiffer brush gives me finer texture. Of course i do not apply them with brush directly, i use airbrush/toothpick method. For next pas, i dip brush into splashes, then into thinner, and then splash it with this diluted mess. After that, i sometimes return to splashing harder material, but only if i need more.
Next step would be adding some life and color to splashed mud. Diluted wash or similar products work wonderfully there. Then you can add accumulations of leaking oil, wet patches etc. Sometimes you only have too look inside fenders of your own car for inspiration!!
Currently i am weathering underside of my stug, pictures of the progress is coming soon to its build thread.
cabasner
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Nevada, United States
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Posted: Monday, November 27, 2017 - 11:55 PM UTC
Wow, thanks a million guys! I especially like the points about avoiding too much mud and muck. I was and am going for some cross country travel in a slightly wet environment. I do not want huge piles of mud on my tank, and I recognize that after a certain point, unless in freezing temps, the mass of mud would pull itself off the vehicle. Iím using the Mig Mud and Splashes products, and I have 5 or 6 colors of each. I also have many pigment colors, plus earth textured paint. Iíve found that the mud colors Iíve chosen are pretty close to the color of the dunklegelb paint on the tank, so Iím going to rely a lot on speckling with dark mud to make it more interesting. I may try to make a few short Ďmudsicklesí on the bottom, to, just for fun. I agree that layers are the key to realism! You guys have been great! Many thanks!!

Darius, Iím going to check out your thread later on.
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:32 AM UTC
Curt-- just a point about the Mud effects products out there and your issue with the Dunkelgelb colors-- look at some photos of the area you want to model, as real earth comes in several diffferent shades-- I don't know of many places in Europe with a Dunkelgelb soil color. My experience in Western Europe is the soil is a mid to dark brown for the most part. In many parts of Asia the soil is more reddish in color. So if you can find color photos of the particular are you vehicle is supposed to be, it would be better to try and match the soil color.
VR, Russ
cabasner
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Nevada, United States
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Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 05:21 PM UTC
Russ, thanks for your suggestions.

I will give the existing mud/dirt a top coating of darker colored Ďmudí. The mixture (multiple layers) of mud that I already have in place looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. An added layer of darker mud will add to it, along with speckles of mud of a different color, possibly mixed with the Wilder dark water effect (gloss finish). I added some Tamiya Hull Red Ďprimerí to the edges of some of the panels on the underside of my tank, combined with some silver (Ďbare metalí) to simulate scrapes of the paint on the bottom, and will cover those with an additional light coat of dust/mud for some variety. Iíll try to take some pictures this weekend.
GeraldOwens
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Florida, United States
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Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 01:10 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Russ, thanks for your suggestions.

I will give the existing mud/dirt a top coating of darker colored Ďmudí. The mixture (multiple layers) of mud that I already have in place looks pretty good, if I do say so myself. An added layer of darker mud will add to it, along with speckles of mud of a different color, possibly mixed with the Wilder dark water effect (gloss finish). I added some Tamiya Hull Red Ďprimerí to the edges of some of the panels on the underside of my tank, combined with some silver (Ďbare metalí) to simulate scrapes of the paint on the bottom, and will cover those with an additional light coat of dust/mud for some variety. Iíll try to take some pictures this weekend.


A tank can become absolutely filthy in an afternoon, but consider the vehicle's age before you start damaging the paint underneath. If your King Tiger belongs to the SS 501st Schwere Panzer Abteilung in the Ardennes, for instance, it is literally brand new. They got their last nine tanks just days before the attack. On the other hand, the other KT battalion in the Bulge, the Army's 506th Abteilung, received two thirds of its King Tigers the previous August (with 14 new tanks, sans Zimmerit, issued in December to make up losses).
RLlockie
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United Kingdom
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Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 03:47 AM UTC
Personally Iíd steer clear of silver for scratches on the hull. Bare ferrous metal will rust very quickly (overnight) and the underside is pretty much likely to be streaked mud/rust colour after a period of driving about cross country as others have pointed out. You might well see polished bright steel on surfaces which are continually rubbed (such as roadwheel rims where in contact with guide teeth) but again, after a night of immobility when there is moisture present, the bare metal will disappear quickly.
Das_Abteilung
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United Kingdom
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Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 04:10 AM UTC
I can only agree with Mr Lockie. Avoid silver at all costs for worn armour plate. Why? BECAUSE IT ISN'T SILVER!!! And never has been (no, not even in WW1).

Armour plate is a dark metallic brown colour - somewhere between milk and plain chocolate. This is a function of carburation whereby the heat treatment process used to create face hardened armour causes carbon to be absorbed into the surface of the steel alloy, changing its characteristics and its colour. Even without the carbon the base alloy will most likely contain nickel and manganese which will give it a goldy-brown hue. Armour plate also takes a considerable time to rust because of the rust-inhibiting qualities of carbon, nickel and manganese.

Weld metal, on the other hand, will be bright silver - and doesn't rust. Sheet metal parts such as trackguards, stowage bins etc will show bright metal where there is fresh or constant wear, but will rust readily. Fresh bullet or shell strikes may show bright metal because of the heat created by the impact, and may penetrate to a depth that the carbon has not reached, but will then rust.
Kevlar06
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Washington, United States
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Posted: Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 06:54 AM UTC
Read my suggestions again folks-- the silver is used as a base for the patina and weathering that goes over it. And, I can attest, the bottom of a tank scraping along a rocky rutted road or over concrete or metal will definitely produce a metallic (not silver) sheen to in the lowest areas, Which is replicated and picked out by the graphite in the pencil lead, not the silver base layer, which only provides a reflective surface. I've tried using metallic browns and gun metal colors to replicate this effect, but they just are not reflective enough for the layers going over them, which is I why I've settled on a base coat of Floquil Old Silver (provides a more dull look than straight silver). I've managed to produce a similar effect by adding burnt umber to regular silver, but it still doesn't replicate the effect as well. It's true, hardened armor will rust rather quickly, but not while its being continually operated over a rough surface-- it usually takes several days for rust to appear and the patina to change back to its original appearance. As I said in my earlier post-- we're talking about how mud and dirt stick to the underside, and I said to examine the environment the tank is in to determine the extent of this effect. Even hardened armor plate will eventually pick up a subtle sheen from a continual sanding and grinding process as the tank moves along, polishing the underside smooth of paint--depending on the terrain it's on. The same goes for tracks, but I agree, it's a subtle look-- the silver paint is only used a base to increase reflectivity for subsequent layers representing the metal parts. On the other hand, Aluminum hulled vehicles like the M113 and M551 and others will polish out to a dull aluminum surface, which shows pitting and scrapes very well, and for this, more dull silver paint should be used as a base, since aluminum doesn't rust.
VR, Russ