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How to paint tank tracks?

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  • Member since
    May, 2011
How to paint tank tracks?
Posted by Cotton Hawes on Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:20 AM

I'm working on my first armor, a Tamiya M48A3 Patton and am drawing a blank on what kind (or color) of paint to use on the tracks, which appear to be made out of rubber.  I'd like to stick with acrylics if possible.  Airbrush?  Brush by hand?  Dry-brush?  Some combination of the above?  What colors?  Any advice is welcome, but please consider that I've used an airbrush only once.

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Northern New Jersey
Posted by Tojo72 on Thursday, May 12, 2011 5:55 AM

I airbrush the whole track a very dark gray,Tamiya flat black and german gray,then handbrush the edges and teeth with metal.Then dust with pigments.

  • Member since
    September, 2007
  • From: Truro Nova Scotia, Canada
Posted by SuppressionFire on Thursday, May 12, 2011 6:00 AM

First decide where the tank will be in service. That is if its on parade the tracks will show worn steel with the rubber pads looking more or less clean. For this look spray the tracks silver, use a dark brown / black wash and dry brush the rubber pads a black w/ a hint of sky blue.

Best to look at reference photographs of tracked vehicles in service similar to the one you are building. Use photographs of other modelers work for ideas yet strive for realism, some get carried away with bright orange rust and forget to show worn metal on the wear points.

Now if this vehicle is serving in Vietnam spray the tracks the typical 'red mud' color and drybrush the worn steel & pads the same way.

Basically the dirt will collect in the crevices, the pads and steel wear points will need to be painted (dry brushed) last.

The dirt can be added as a wash towards the finish, as it will give the same look as stated above.

Another way is to finish the tracks in the mud / dirt colors and use a lead pencil to hit the wear & contact points. This looks realistic yet many end up missing the contact points inside the guide horns & wheel surfaces. This technique is easier to do before installing the tracks, just dry fit them first to avoid frustration later on. 

Of course actual metal tracks are the ultimate in realism, they sag like the real tracks and weathering consists of sanding the paint (mud / dirt) off to the metal, just like real tracks!

Which technique is the best? The one with the results you strive for. Just go for it & if you are not happy set the scene in mud or use the experience to better your next project.



  • Member since
    December, 2002
  • From: Valrico, FL
Posted by HeavyArty on Thursday, May 12, 2011 6:00 AM

^^ Ditto ^^

I do it pretty much the same way.  Here is a great tuttorial on painting tracks.

Gino P. Quintiliani - Field Artillery - The KING of BATTLE!!!

Check out my Gallery: http://smg.photobuck...v231/HeavyArty/?

"People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." -- George Orwell

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: New Jersey
Posted by redleg12 on Friday, May 13, 2011 7:07 PM


The only other advice is if you are using plastic tracks, do not start with a lacquor or strong enamel. Base coat with a black or grey acrylic.

Especially laquor may soften some of the very small  sections of the track and will cause structural problem when you try to install.

I use Alclad Steel for the metal base and a 50/50 mix of Flat and NATO black for the rubber pads

Rounds Complete!!

"The Moral High Ground....A Great Place to Emplace Artillery."


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