FoW: Hobby: 3 Nations, 3 Easy Tank Paint Jobs

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There are few experiences in miniature wargaming similar to painting 15mm scale tanks.  Here’s how to get started.

Most people like to invoke some sort of rationale in their tank selections, but the only criterion I select by is “do I enjoy painting it?” If I need it for game purposes, sure, I’ll get one. But much of the time, I just buy tanks I want to paint, whether they will see battle or not. That being said, I paint a lot of tanks. If there is anything I have learned, it is that painting your tanks for Flames of War tanks does not have to be an arduous affair. There are some simple techniques that yield impressive results with very little work.

For this article I will cover getting your basic tank color with shading and highlights. Sounds like a lot, but with tanks this size, techniques that are not very sophisticated become very effective. I am speaking of washing and drybrushing.
Many of you are already quite familiar with the effectiveness of these two techniques when painting FoW tanks. The big question in any painting project is color, and I am going to show you both the colors and methods I use for my U.S., British, and Soviet armor.
For the Americans, start by painting the hull of the vehicle with a nice, even coat of Vallejo 887 Brown Violet. This is a well-known color to many FoW hobbyists, as it is the color recommended by Battlefront in its American painting guides, as well. One thing to note is that this color does not usually lend to stark shading, as it is already fairly dark. Regardless, some good old Citadel Agrax Earthshade will give you all the shading you need. Make sure not to overdo the wash, and avoid allowing it to gather on the flatter surfaces. Try to soak up any excess wash with your brush before drying begins, as this wash tends to leave gummy streaks if you try to mess with it while it’s drying.
A tank destroyer just after being washed.
Once that is completely, and I do mean completely dry, begin drybrushing the model with the base color, in this case the Brown Violet again. Start lightly drybrushing at first until you get a feel for how much you should use. The goal here is to reduce the effect of the wash on the larger and more raised surfaces and to restore the dominance of the original base color.
Once you satisfied that the model’s overall shading and color is consistent, begin drybrushing with Vallejo 988 Khaki very lightly, so as to hit all of the raised surfaces of the tank without making streaks on the model. Remember, drybrushing requires there to be very little paint on your brush; anything else is really overbrushing, a similar technique that gives very different results from what you want here.
An M4A3E8 after the highlight drybrush.
Remember that U.S. armor is going to look fairly dark when it is finished due to the relatively dark base color. 
Completed U.S. armor using this scheme.
Next we will look at British armor.
Completed British Sherman platoon.
British tanks are a bit lighter in color, and the recommended base color for them is Vallejo 924 Russian Uniform WWII. Similar to the Americans, just wash it with Agrax Earthshade, and once it’s dry, drybrush it first with the base color and then with Vallejo 886 Green Grey for the final highlight. The result is a very eye-catching look with both good highlights and shading.

Both of the color schemes so far basically mimic the colors recommended, quite helpfully, by Battlefront. But I paint my Soviet tanks quite differently from what they suggest. Battlefront recommends Vallejo’s “Russian Green”, a very dark green that is nearly impossible to give any depth via shading and is difficult to highlight effectively. Also, while it is pretty close to the historical factory color, which had no strict uniform standard, it is not terribly interesting to look at on the table.

For my Soviet tanks, I start with Citadel Loren Forest, painting the tank just as with previous base colors. Then a careful wash of, you guessed it, Agrax Earthshade. Next, as with the previous color schemes, drybrush with the base color. Finally, make a 50/50 mix of Loren Forest with the 886 Green Grey for the highlight drybrush. The result is a faded, weather-beaten look that has a much greater sense of depth and realism.
An IS-2 (left) after washing and another (right) after drybrushing the 50/50 highlight.
Now you have got your tanks started, and the rest is all detail work. Tracks, decals, tools and crew all await your steady hand. I would encourage our readers to look at Battlefront’s painting guides for more ideas on how to bring your tanks to life. Also, don’t shy away from experimenting. At best, you can paint over the injustice you painted onto the model. At worst, you can always take an old toothbrush and some rubbing alcohol to your tank, so long as you didn’t varnish it yet.
And that’s it! I hope this helps some of you out there looking for ideas. If you have a way of painting your tanks that you would like to share, please feel free to comment about it for the rest of us.       

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