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Miscellaneous questions about right choice of color to paint items when not specified in instructions

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  • Member since
    February 2021
Miscellaneous questions about right choice of color to paint items when not specified in instructions
Posted by ScaleModeler_1973 on Saturday, August 28, 2021 7:39 PM

Hello. So I am trying to bring one or two of my mostly completed tank kits to (full) fruition (building, decaling, painting). I have quite a few that are assembled but not finished (painting is my 'bottle neck'). With my Tamiya Sherman, I've decided to spend some time this weekend painting the miscellaneous 'stowage' (I hope that's the right word). I speak of objects like gas (jerry) cans, oil barrels, helmets and crates/stowage boxes. I notice that my kit instructions spell out that the ammo packs and ration knapsacks should be painted khaki. But I am at a loss/puzzled, because no color guidance is given for the other items I mention? So my question becomes, are there more or less 'universal' /common sense colors that are used for items like jerry cans across nationalities (maybe red?)? Or does it all depend on the country and era of the tank in question (maybe camouflage is a consideration in the choice of color for the gear, for instance). Or are there many historically 'defensible' (in a realism sense) color choices for these items? (Is that maybe why Tamiya hasn't given me specfic color scheme information?) I have purchased every color (acrylic) paint listed as being required for the Sherman kit (so I thought I would be in good shape here). But I am wondering if my finished product could benefit from some other colors, too (or mixing of more than one shade)? Maybe this is where I need to go to the library and read some textbooks abour Shermans (hopefully there are some relevant color pictures)? I do better with instructions to follow, but sometimes maybe we have to figure these things our for ourselves? Thanks for maybe helping to explain to me how this works (being fairly realistic with one's scale model painting).

  • Member since
    March 2007
  • From: Northeast WA State
Posted by armornut on Saturday, August 28, 2021 9:09 PM

   On Allied vehicles and equipment, jerry cans, helmets,etc, are various shades of OD Green. That can range from a khaki brown to almost a light green.

     Jerry cans, ration cases, othe metal stowage was often the same color as the vehicle. Shovels, tools....depended on manufaturer as to whether or not they were left natural or painted. Fire extinguishers if on exterior I think were the color of the machine, red would make a juicy site point for anti vehicle rounds. Water cans were marked by a white W to not to confused with gas.

    Hope this helps some.

we're modelers it's what we do

  • Member since
    December 2002
  • From: Fort Knox
Posted by Rob Gronovius on Sunday, August 29, 2021 9:55 AM

Having served in the military, a lot of stowage, gear, equipment varies in shades based on manufacturer, age of equipment, where the equipment was used (desert sun fades stuff).

So much of our equipment was a shade of military green and not a whole lot of the green stuff was exactly the same shade, even after repainting. A Jerry can used for fuel will start to look different than the tank painted at the same time because of the material being painted (sheet metal versus armored steel) as well as handling and spilling of the liquid inside.

The backpack issued to the old sergeant tank commander hanging off the side of the turret is going to look a lot more faded than the backpack belonging to the new private being assigned to the tank.

You don't need a book, just google some images and you'll see the variation of reenactor photos in color.

  • Member since
    April 2016
  • From: N. Burbs of ChiKawgo
Posted by GlennH on Sunday, August 29, 2021 10:41 AM

The backpack issued to the old sergeant tank commander hanging off the side of the turret is going to look a lot more faded than the backpack belonging to the new private being assigned to the tank.

And the boots. Nothing proclaimed new guy more than those.Smile

A number Army Viet Nam scans from hundreds yet to be done:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/southwestdreams/albums/72157621855914355

Have had the great fortune to be on every side of the howitzers.

  • Member since
    July 2014
  • From: Rifle, CO. USA
Posted by M1GarandFan on Sunday, August 29, 2021 11:55 AM

I have to agree with the other opinions expressed here. I try to vary the shades of O.D. as much as I can on most of the metallic items and use a khaki shade on the material made out of canvas: packs, tarps and such.

  • Member since
    February 2021
Posted by ScaleModeler_1973 on Sunday, August 29, 2021 2:15 PM

Thanks for the replies/explanations. What you all have told me makes a lot of sense to me (that items are more worn and faded-looking the longer they are in service and such. And there being variations in coloring due to enivornmental/material factors, too). I think I have a better understanding now, especially after just 'Google' searching. There is a ton of tank and tank gear images (I guess maybe hardly anyone goes to the physical library to look for books the old fashioned-way anymore... I should really get with this web researching more!).

For my Tamiya Sherman, I painted the ration packs and canvas items (lighter) khaki. They are a nice looking contrast to the other darker objects. I tried using olive drab or a third color 'khaki drab' (all Tamiya colors) on the gasoline cans, oil drums, and spare helmets. I was a little concerned because it didn't seem like there was much difference in the latter two shades once they dried, but I guess having some variation in tint between objects is actually more realistic. I should also mention that I am only learning to brush paint (acrylics) and I've been experimenting with the amount of thinner and retarder to use on smaller items. I notice that once dried some of the items I painted aren't uniformly the same color throughout either (for example, the oil drum now has darker and lighter shades- at first I thought maybe I need to mix my paints more thoroughly. In looking at some pictures on the web, though, I think that it might actually be working out OK for me: maybe some of this kind of 'irregular' painting  finish is realistic. Thanks again for sharing from your military and scale modeling experience, guys. I am going to try to answer my own next question about what color is most realistic for spare track links stored on a tank (model kit instructions give some varying recommendations of specific paint shades to use, but I bet I will be able to find plenty of historical images to give me a better sense of what is realistic to use.... 

  • Member since
    November 2005
  • From: Formerly Bryan, now Arlington, Texas
Posted by CapnMac82 on Sunday, August 29, 2021 5:18 PM

There are some sublties at work, and color photos can be your friend.

Many things were prefinished by their contractor.  Which is why virtually all US ammo can have the same (not OD) green color (and it's really a range of green depending on the can and the era).

All US jerry cans (fuel or water) were pre-painted as well; but, they were alos painted by various crews with access to paint, too.  Commo wire reels were often an OD whic closely resembles AAF OD (which does not match Ground Forces OD).

WWII EE-8 field phones were black, but in dark brown leather cases or OD7 fabric ones.  Later, the PT-312 field fones would be in dark green, but supplied with OG-107 fabric bags.

US personal gear--web belts, packs, LBE, went through a major color change in WWII.  They started as a khaki-tan sort of color, to change (officially 1943, but not getting to troops until 44-45) to an OD green sort of color (and those colors were as varied as the colors of olives in a jar, too).

C-Ration cases were in every color "cardboard" comes in, the wooden packing crates were in every hue pine comes in.

This sort of thing holds constant through history, too.  "Ammo can green" is till pretty much ammo can green.  Jerry cans are moulded in various plastics any more (and this does not prevent bored E-4 from over-painting them).

The one sure thing that can be offerred is, if it's a Trumpeter Paint list, it's imaginary at best Smile

  • Member since
    April 2006
  • From: Denver, Colorado
Posted by waynec on Sunday, August 29, 2021 8:50 PM

i think every modeler hits the "it has to be the exact color"  stage but we move through it. how? go to a Regional or National convention and look at 6 U-boats. all are different shades of gray. all are realistic. Look at various paont companies German Armor Green, they are different.

Personally i am of the artistic vs must be 100% accurate school of painting. i have 8 different greens i can use with Russian armor and have half a dozen ODs for US armor. As everyone has said colors fade from weathering. Lighting also affects color; sunlight, fluorescent, LED. My red oil washes will stand out in a photo but are hardly noticeable  in person.  a story from a friend when we were discussing colors.

"I was working the flight line in the Phillipines and we need to touch up some aircraft. My sergeant handed me a swatch and some money and told me to go to the Phillipines Home Depot and buy some gray paint. No FS 16473 USAF Aircraft Gray matching, just mk 1 eyeball."

Никто не Забыт    (No one is Forgotten)
Ничто не Забыто  (Nothing is Forgotten)

 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Monday, August 30, 2021 3:05 AM

Hello!

Recently I've been workin on a very similar problem so I thought I'll post a photo and try to use it as a practical example:

1:35 Eduard/Tasca M4A1 by Pawel

So what we've got here are wooden ammo crates - painted and unpainted. Drybrushing and washes are your friend here, because those crates get abused a lot and it's good to show it on the model. Youtube has a lot of tutorials on painting wood. I found it easy to do - and it also comes handy for tool handles. Talking about tools - some of them are OD, some are just bare steel, for some I tried to show the metal parts painted red and worn - my friends here often wrote about the tools looking like they came straight out of a hardware store. Some tools also get repainted together with the vehicle (when you don't have the time to be bothered with removing them prior to painting...). Then you have the tarps - you can never know where they came from, could be US, British, ex-French, or liberated from the Germans, and they could have got them themselves from some remote theatre - hence a lot of freedom with the colour. The personal gear like rucksacks - those also can be US - light tan, like the Capn Mac wrote, or olive green - and there are also other rucksachs possible - British, French, liberated German or even some civilian tourist stuff sent from home? Then there are cans... US cans are OD. They can be lightly chipped and denting them is also easy to do with some round file. There are German cans - panzergrau (= dark grey, earlier) or dunkegelb (=light tan, later). There are also british cans which can come in many different colours, but the British had their own colour called brown-green. There is also a small "flimsy" can that represents something taken from a civilian market - maybe oil, or juice - that's why I painted it a totally funny colour for added interest.

It's worth to remember that the troops on the very tip of the "sharp end of the stick" always have a problem with getting supplies and will scrounge things a lot - any can of fuel and everything that looks handy will be used just to keep movin', so you have a chance for quite a collection.

I hope this helps you - thanks for reading, good luck with your build - post some pictures! - and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    April 2016
  • From: N. Burbs of ChiKawgo
Posted by GlennH on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 11:22 AM
Peel your works always amazes. That worn and chipped red is just outstanding! Especially on the sledge. Dang!

A number Army Viet Nam scans from hundreds yet to be done:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/southwestdreams/albums/72157621855914355

Have had the great fortune to be on every side of the howitzers.

  • Member since
    January 2020
  • From: Maryland
Posted by wpwar11 on Wednesday, September 1, 2021 4:37 PM

I was going to write the same thing as GlennH.  The build is fantastic especially the ax and wood crates.

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Thursday, September 2, 2021 2:54 PM

Glenn, wpwar11 - thanks a lot for your kind words, they mean a lot to me. At the same time I wanted to tell you the results I got here weren't IMO hard to do - all it took was watching some youtube how-to clips plus some experience. The chipped tools are made using a coarse sponge clips and paint called "Leadbelcher" from Games Workshop - nice metal shade, not too bright and not too dark. As for the wood I painted the crates sandy yellow, brushed on some light tan streaks to give impression of wood. Then, again with a sponge I applied some light gray "damage" to the corners and edges and a brown wash topped it off. If I was to describe my feeling about the job it was a bit like Nah... Nah... Nah.. and after the wash: WOW, that's it! :-)

The thing is almost always you can't paint anything with just one colour - it's not going to look real. For new and shiny things you need some shadow (a was most of the time) and some highlight with lighter colour to give an impression of more detail than there really is. Add some dirt and damage that almost always is really there and it starts lookin' realistic!

Thanks for reading and have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    January 2020
  • From: Maryland
Posted by wpwar11 on Thursday, September 2, 2021 5:31 PM

Pawel

Any chance the video how to was Night Shift?  Martin is a very gifted armor modeler.

dlh
  • Member since
    March 2017
  • From: Chambersburg, PA
Posted by dlh on Friday, September 3, 2021 10:46 AM

Pawel

Hello!

Recently I've been workin on a very similar problem so I thought I'll post a photo and try to use it as a practical example:

1:35 Eduard/Tasca M4A1 by Pawel

So what we've got here are wooden ammo crates - painted and unpainted. Drybrushing and washes are your friend here, because those crates get abused a lot and it's good to show it on the model. Youtube has a lot of tutorials on painting wood. I found it easy to do - and it also comes handy for tool handles. Talking about tools - some of them are OD, some are just bare steel, for some I tried to show the metal parts painted red and worn - my friends here often wrote about the tools looking like they came straight out of a hardware store. Some tools also get repainted together with the vehicle (when you don't have the time to be bothered with removing them prior to painting...). Then you have the tarps - you can never know where they came from, could be US, British, ex-French, or liberated from the Germans, and they could have got them themselves from some remote theatre - hence a lot of freedom with the colour. The personal gear like rucksacks - those also can be US - light tan, like the Capn Mac wrote, or olive green - and there are also other rucksachs possible - British, French, liberated German or even some civilian tourist stuff sent from home? Then there are cans... US cans are OD. They can be lightly chipped and denting them is also easy to do with some round file. There are German cans - panzergrau (= dark grey, earlier) or dunkegelb (=light tan, later). There are also british cans which can come in many different colours, but the British had their own colour called brown-green. There is also a small "flimsy" can that represents something taken from a civilian market - maybe oil, or juice - that's why I painted it a totally funny colour for added interest.

It's worth to remember that the troops on the very tip of the "sharp end of the stick" always have a problem with getting supplies and will scrounge things a lot - any can of fuel and everything that looks handy will be used just to keep movin', so you have a chance for quite a collection.

I hope this helps you - thanks for reading, good luck with your build - post some pictures! - and have a nice day

Paweł

 

This is really magnificent.  Wish I had a whif of your talent.

Dave

  • Member since
    September 2006
  • From: Bethlehem PA
Posted by the Baron on Friday, September 3, 2021 12:35 PM

Try painting figures.  The same kinds of questions, the same kinds of answers, and the same kinds of tips, all apply.

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen.

 

 

  • Member since
    May 2009
  • From: Poland
Posted by Pawel on Friday, September 3, 2021 4:55 PM

Hello everybody! Thanks a lot for your comments!

wpwar11 - I've watched a couple of them and I don't recall any specific channel names... But I remember the general impression being - no sweat, looks easy in the videos! :-)

Dave - thanks a lot for your kind words!

Baron - I agree. I like to paint Warhammer 40k figures for fun - and it's a really good exercise in painting, too.

Have a nice day

Paweł

All comments and critique welcomed. Thanks for your honest opinions!

www.vietnam.net.pl

  • Member since
    September 2018
  • From: Vancouver, Washington USA
Posted by Sergeant on Friday, September 3, 2021 10:07 PM

ScaleModeler_1973 you may be surprised to find out that most of the color photographs you see on the internet and in books of the Second World War are 'colorized'. This is because almost every original photograph taken until the 1960's was black & white file. Below is an example of an original Sherman photograph and its colorized version.

This of course raises a question of how accurate are the colorized reproductions? Well, I think they are generally pretty good considering there is almost no surviving military artifacts from 80-years ago that have not faded, rusted, or otherwise been repainted.

To make things more complicated the standard U.S. Army Olive Drab (OD) used in the 1940's was not a consistent color and faded quickly. In other words, an M4A3 Sherman tank from one factory might be a slightly different shade of OD than one from another factory. But keep in mind the goal was not really to have every tank and piece of artillery the same shade of green, it was to take the shine off the paint in daylight.

Another thing to consider, by the time a Sherman tank had been in the field two weeks it was usually so dirty you could hardly see the markings that were painted in white. A tank is a weapon and as long as it did the job, nobody thought much about how it looked or what shade of green it was, it just had to keep working.

Harold

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