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WWII German 'mottled' camouflage painting techniques


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Gents,

 

How do you guys achieve the mottled upper surface finish prevalent on so many German aircraft types?

Mask? Freehand? And if freehand, I assume by airbrush? If so, is that viable on 1/72 aircraft?

I am amazed at the finish I see on many of your projects, any tips or general info gratefully received!!

 

Thanks, R

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Certain 'larger-scale' mottles--like the desert 'blotches' on JG27's 109's in Africa--can be done quite effectively by cutting a template from stiff paper or the like. But unfortunately most of the other more 'standard' mottling, common to Luftwaffe fighters, at least--especially in 1/48 and 1/72 scales--can usually only be done freehand with an AB.

 

It takes familiarity with both your airbrush and your paints...and lots of practice. Working out the amount of thinner required and air pressure settings are usually the 'easy' part; more difficult is developing the 'touch' that will let you control and apply your paint in the manner desired. That's something that only practice can really help you dial in.

 

But it's worth it! ;) The first time you manage one of those neat schemes successfully..and look at it and say "Did I really manage to do that?"...all the aggravation will pay off

 

[I will 'addendum' the above by saying I have seen some truly gobsmacking mottling jobs done with a 'hairy stick' brush, rather than an AB. I can't do it, at least to that expert degree...but like the AB technique, practice and familiarity with your paints are the key. Learning to blend and mottle with a brush can be extremely useful, if only for close-in 'repairs' to an otherwise-nice AB finish that one doesn't want to risk with additional spray attempts.]

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I freehand mine, and if I can do it, anyone can do it! :yahoo: I use a 0.2mm or 0.18mm needle, and have found Gunze paints to be great for painting mottle, as they've got a very fine pigment and you can thin them with Mr Leveling Thinner, getting the paint to a semi-skimmed milk consistency in a scrupulously clean airbrush (to avoid clogging).  Do some practice first on anything you have lying around, being careful to use microscopic movements of your trigger.  Get your bite-point where paint starts to come out of the nozzle and then create a shape with it.  If you keep the nozzle moving you won't get spiders or pooling, and I generally spray with a working pressure of 1 bar/14psi.  Depress your trigger so air is coming out, and set your regulator once the pressure has stabilised.  Another tip is to remove the crown cap off your airbrush, as those little metal projections do affect the finesse of the spray pattern, and you can get slightly finer finishes and closer in without it.  Always put it back after though, as no-one likes a bent needle :owww:

 

Just noodle the shapes onto the airframe, stepping back to take an overall view in so that you get consistency of shape/spread.  If you don't like any of them, load some underside colour into your airbrush (or a spare if you've got one), and clean up any messes or bits you're not happy with.  I was mottling a P.1103b rocket fighter the other day, and that's smaller than most 1:72 fighters, despite being 1:48.  I repainted after my first go, but was happier with the 2nd time around.  There's one area that could have been better, but as the crosses will be somewhere nearby, I'm not going to sweat it ;)

 

airframe5.jpg

 

The aircraft is 10cm from nose to tail, so you're seeing it at about 2x magnification if you've got a 24" screen.  That little round dot on the front middle is the one I don't like, plus perhaps its spidery friend, but at 1:1 viewing they're hardly important.  it does take a bit of practice, and I could be better, but the key thing is to practice, don't give up, and keep those finger movements small. :)

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Back in the day when airbrushes were less common than now, other techniques were used. Such as a small chunk of sponge dipped in the paint to be used, blotted nearly dry, then used to randomly dab on the color. I used this method the other day, but with a Q-tip (AKA 'cotton bud") dipped in well-thinned paint and blotted nearly dry to touch up a wing-engine nacelle join on an Me 262 that kept getting too much overspray from the wing upper surfaces. Looked weird until it dried, at which point it blended right in.

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5 hours ago, isaneng said:

And if freehand, I assume by airbrush? If so, is that viable on 1/72 aircraft?

No airbrush required. Brush techniques look very convincing in small scales like 1/72. They get less usable as the model gets bigger.

 

The basic technique is to use a small stiff brush (trim one if you need to), dip in paint then mostly brush off, and poke the spot you want a blotch until you get the desired effect. Essentially you're dry-brushing a small area with the brush at 90 degrees to the surface, building up slowly to get a more solid colour in the middle and fading to the edges. It works best on a matte surface, but I've done it with gloss as well.

 

Note this destroys brushes very fast, but it works best with cheap brushes anyway.

 

Depending on the size of the spot you can start with a small solid blob then work around the edges to get a mottle. Incidentally, this also works to soften edges in camouflage schemes and get an airbrush-like effect by hand. It's something you might want to practice a bit before going at it on an actual model.

Edited by Vlad
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What the guys have said and it’s down to practice. Maybe have a go on something you don’t need to worry about, plastic sheet, old hack mule model or similar. 

 

Oh and once you have mastered mottle then you can go on to Italian “smoke rings”.  

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Can't really add much more other than to say that I work exclusively in 1/48 and freehand mottle with a .3mm nozzle on my Iwata HP-C. Some day I may get myslef a .2mm AB but I'm fine with the results that I get.

 

This isn't my work but it just goes to show what's possible:

 

tipsanddilutionsjm_01.jpg

 

A very informative article on some of the fundamentals here: http://www.hyperscale.com/2018/features/dilutionandnozzlejm_1.htm

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11 hours ago, FatFlyHalf said:

Cut down brush and gently build up a small mottle from an almost dry brush.

Old school, but effective.

 

 

I was at a model show back in NZ in 2006ish and there were a couple of Luftwaffe builds there by a chap who had done them completely with brush painting. The finish was remarkable and being intrigued I had a chat with him and asked him how he had done them. The method you describe was exactly how he had done it.

Edited by Smithy
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7 hours ago, Jordi said:

The real thing was 100% done by hand with an airbrush.

Not really - many of the Japanese mottling schemes at least were done with a brush or broom. I'm not sure about other air forces, but an air brush was not always available in the field and it took very long. I'm pretty sure Luftwaffe winter schemes on the Eastern Front were painted with a broom, too.

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1 hour ago, Toryu said:

Not really - many of the Japanese mottling schemes at least were done with a brush or broom. I'm not sure about other air forces, but an air brush was not always available in the field and it took very long. I'm pretty sure Luftwaffe winter schemes on the Eastern Front were painted with a broom, too.

Someone posted to me that when the Japanese moved their Zeroes to land bases, they were camouflaged with green blotches over the ame iro colour, and that this was applied with sea sponges. This hasn't yet 100% been verified to me, but it's physically quite possible and also plausible with the abundance of sponges around the Western Pacific islands.

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Here’s a couple of builds with hand-painted mottling that almost defy belief:

 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/72nd_aircraft/junkers-ju188-f-1-hasegawa-1-72-finished-t10886.html

 

https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/72nd_aircraft/heinkel-he-219-a-dragon-platz-second-finished-t10436.html

 

That being said...I use an airbrush for mine! It does take some practice, good equipment, and knowledge of paint thinning ratios, air pressure settings etc., but airbrushing models is a lot of fun and very effective.

 

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35 minutes ago, stalal said:

Which airbrushes would you recommend with 0.18 or 0.2mm nozzle?

We've reviewed both of the ones I use, care of Martin at Air-craft.net and they're both Gunze brushes

 

This one's a 0.2

 

and this later one is 0.18 an works beautifully with Gunze paints

 

Sure they have slightly weird names, but with spares now easily obtainable they're an awesome piece of kit, and service from Martin is without comparison. :yes:

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16 hours ago, JohnT said:

then you can go on to Italian “smoke rings”.

Never!!!!! I'll be using some of those lovely smoke ring decals by Mike Grant... far easier than respraying your Folgore over-and-over until it looks like an over-inflated balloon. :owww:

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Myself, I use a 30 year old Aztek airbrush with the tan (fine) tip. I'll thin the paint very heavily (Tamiya acrylics)  something like 70% thinner, 30% paint, with a few drops of retarder (it's more like tinted thinner than paint) and spray at about 10 to 15 PSI with the tip perhaps 1/2 inch from the surface.  It's thin enough that it requires multiple passes to build up any color density (this also has the advantage of any one mistake won't show, you would have to make the same error repeatedly to affect the scheme)! I also put a post-it note next to the area and spray onto it first, after any kind of pause to avoid spatter on the model. 

 

Image10

 

Sometimes, if I'm trying to replicate a specific scheme, I'll use a paper mask (photocopied instructions?) with the mottle cut out, and paint hard edged mottles with it. Then I'll go over each mottle with the thinned, low pressure mix and 'feather' out the edges to soften the mottle.

 

PC140529

 

 

Hope this gives some ideas

Edited by Tail-Dragon
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On 9/20/2019 at 5:22 AM, Mike said:

We've reviewed both of the ones I use, care of Martin at Air-craft.net and they're both Gunze brushes

 

This one's a 0.2

 

and this later one is 0.18 an works beautifully with Gunze paints

 

Sure they have slightly weird names, but with spares now easily obtainable they're an awesome piece of kit, and service from Martin is without comparison. :yes:

They are great airbrushes. I have the PS-289.

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If you're just shopping for an airbrush, I'd also recommend a dual-action.  I always thought it intimidating, sort of like rubbing your belly while patting your head, but now that I've finally tried it for a moment or two, it seems pretty straightforward, and certainly gives you more control.  (I actually bought one several years ago, but need to get my compressor talking to my airbrushes.  That's on my to-do list.  Then I'll need to figure out where to set up for using it...)

 

Love the above tip of having a "test post-it" next to the area to be painted!

 

On the "where to use it" theme, that IS one complication of airbrushing.  It makes life much easier, which means you're more likely to do it rather than think, "Oh, this isn't the best time, so I'll postpone...", if you have a dedicated airbrushing station.  Doesn't mean you need a health'n'safety approved paint chamber, just think out how you can be ready to spray, store model while safely drying, and conveniently clean airbrush so it's ready for the next use.  In my case, I need a "cat hair free zone", or as near as realistically possible.

 

Also, a "top loaded" brush rather than siphon-cup seems the way to go- you can mix up just a little paint to do the current job (using syringes/eye-droppers) and there's no leftover paint/ dirty jar to deal with.  Thanks to my local club member for the inspiration for these ideas!

Edited by gingerbob
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