Brian O'Donoghue gives us a step by step way to realistic weathering on wheeled vehicles.
This simple and short article/feature will hopefully lift the lid on mystery of painting and weathering wheels and tyres on military vehicles. First and foremost I will not insist on a particular paint or a particular brand of pigment, if readers would like to know the particular paints I used please contact me to discuss this further.
I have used the wheels from Italeris Bedford QL Portee the wheels are quite well detailed considering the age of the kit. For assembly I always use liquid cement it provides a good join and flows nicely into the join. For sanding I use cheap nail files they are available from supermarkets and chemists. I use the type with a foam core as they provide two grades of abrasive, it is worth purchasing a nail buffer as it is possible to remove any scratches from a kit part. These items are cheaper than some of the purpose made products but are easier to obtain.
Step 1: Preparation
Photo 1: Once the wheel has been assembled it is important to carefully remove any sign of the join line, using a suitable abrasive. Ensure that the tread is nice and smooth and that the tyre tread is free from any residue from sanding.
Step 2: Undercoat
Photo 2: By choice I always undercoat using a spray matt black, this provides a single solid colour and will show any blemishes following the use of filler. I also use black as an undercoat because if a section is missed during painting it will not be as easily seen as a lighter undercoat.
Step 3: Plastic Circle Template
Photo 3: This wheel was airbrushed, for simplicity I use a plastic circle template. They are available in many stationary stores and normally have circles in many sizes. Pick the size closest to you wheel rim size and mask off the other circles. Spray through the circle at right angles to minimize overspray and you are done.
Step 4: Definition
Photo 4: With the wheel painted in the base colours, a pin wash/wash can be used on the wheel rim, this helps to define the bolts and any edges on the rims. The choice of wash colour can depend on the colour of the wheel sometimes a light wash can complement a dark colour. The wash also gives the wheel a used look by giving definition of depth. Wash A mixture of paint and thinners, it is made up of more thinners than paint. The paint will flow easily around any raised details and along edges or recesses. The tyre walls and the tread are then drybrushed using a dark grey paint. Drybrush - A brush with very little paint dragged over the raised detail, the paint is left on the raised detail and flat areas. The paint is often lighter than the underlying colour. Once the tyre has been washed and then drybrushed it can be set aside to dry.
Step 5: Final Treatment
Photo 5: The final treatment is to apply the pigments. Pick a pigment that will match your groundwork (if you are building a diorama). Using an old brush, or one that you can afford to use, load the pigments onto the brush and deposit the pigments onto the tyres. Once the pigments have been deposited onto the tyres rub your finger lightly over the raised areas of the tyres. The pigments will be scrubbed into the recesses and will leave a coloured residue on the raised areas.
Once the wheels and rims have been treated a final check will ensure that you are happy with the result. There you have it a simple and often misunderstood method of painting and weathering. This method is not the be all and end all method, try it and if it works for you, great, if not you can adapt it to your painting method and try a slightly different approach.
Step 6: Finished Wheel
Photo 6: This is a finished wheel and tyre on the Italeri 15cwt, it shows the delicate effects that can be made using these steps.