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Vott-Messerschmidt VMe.310g Pit Viper

Pit Viper (3)
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Robert F Inactive Member writes:

Just to make you aware, the plastic ships can be bought online from em4miniatures.

Robert F

Revision Log
7 March 2000page split off
13 September 1999page first published

4,993 hits since 20 Mar 2000
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Here's another basic technique that works well for any "vehicle"-type miniature:

  1. prime the model white
  2. pick the basic color you want
  3. paint the model that color
  4. find a dark shade of the basic color
  5. "wash" the model with the dark shade
  6. pick a light shade of the basic color
  7. drybrush the light shade on

I guarantee you, this sounds harder than it really is. If you can't find three shades of the same color, you can mix your own - mix white with the basic color to make the drybrush color, and mix black to make the wash color.

Let's get specific about what I did to these Vipers. I decided to go with a "low-viz" gray look, similar to some modern aircraft. I primed the model with white spray paint, then painted it up in the basic gray.

Next comes the wash. If you're using acrylic paints, these are really easy. I mix my washes on a plastic lid (from a Pringles chip cannister...), usually about half water to half paint. Then I paint the watery paint on the model, making sure everything is covered. (You need to sit the model on its flight stand at this stage, so that you can wash the entire model in one step.) Then wait, and resist the temptation to touch before the paint is dry.

The magic of the wash is that it fills in all the crevices, making instant "shadows." If your shadows are too light, put another wash on. If the wash is too dark, don't worry, just go to the next step...

Then comes the drybrushing. This isn't rocket science - just get some paint on an old brush, wipe the brush on a paper towel until most of the paint is gone, then brush the paint onto your model. This technique puts paint only on raised edges or surfaces, leaving the rest of the model untouched. It's up to you how much drybrushing to do - a light drybrushing will only catch the details, while a heavy drybrushing almost repaints the model in the new shade. You can also use drybrushing to "rescue" any wash that puddled in the wrong places, or to "lighten" the color of the entire model.

two Vipers

The Viper shown on the left is the "second edition" plastic model. The wash does an excellent job of settling into the recessed lines and showing them off. The "first edition" metal model, on the right, shows that this same technique works well even on a model without a lot of scribed detail.

And the details. These Vipers were pretty basic, so I didn't go overboard on details. I wanted to paint the wing ends and tail orange, but since I didn't want to lose the shading from all the washes and drybrushing, I used a paint that was fairly transparent (you know, the kind that takes three coats to cover anything!). The canopy was painted gold, simulating the reflective metallic canopies on modern jets.

two Vipers again

The three-color technique of basic color, wash, and drybrush is something you can use on almost any vehicle. You may even want to skip either the wash or the drybrush. It's simple once you've done it once or twice, though you may find that washes never quite turn out the way you imagined. And you can paint tabletop-ready ships this way, without needing any advanced painting skills.

Note: None of the ship models used for this article are still available. The metal ships featured have been retired. The plastic ships were part of the Wings of Death boxed set, which is out of print. However, metal versions of the plastic ships are in production. Information for these models is given in the sidebar above.