Replicating Metals on Field Accessories
By: Bob Sarnowski
Looking through books and magazines at soldiers out in the field you'll likely notice that they look pretty beat up and fatigued.
This is usually from spending a lot of time exposed to the elements. This is the look we strive for when we paint our
military miniatures. It just seems to make sense. The same rule should be applied to accessories such as canteens,
mess-kits, ammo cans, gas mask cans, etc. Anything that's metal and has been painted will eventually start to get
nicked and scratched from getting bounced around. Therefore the paint will eventually get rubbed off and the bare
metal will show through. Duplicating this on your accessories isn't as hard as it may seem. The way I do it is to just think
about how the original piece was assembled. A piece of metal that's been fashioned into one of the above mentioned
pieces then painted. It's as simple as that.. No big deal. These days there are basically two types of casting mediums.
Metal and Resins. Obviously it's easier to duplicate the original process of paint "chipping" from a metal accessory than
a resin one. The reason should be plain to see. But if you don't have any spare metal parts lying around, don't worry.
The process can be easily duplicated on resin or plastic. I'll explain both techniques.
First lets start out with a metal casting. These are the easier of the two because the base over which the paint's applied
is metal just as in the real thing. Remember, we are trying to duplicate the original process as close as we can. I use a
water based acrylic paint that I apply directly over the metal without using a primer. I also chose not to use a primer
because I don't want the paint to grab. Pactra brand acrylic's used straight from the bottle seems to work well here. This
product appears to adhere better to the bare metal than others I've tried. (If your local hobby shop doesn't carry it you
may find it at a craft store.) I use an acrylic over an enamel because the acrylic will cover the metal adequately without
bonding to it as would the enamel. This is an important factor in the process because we will be scraping and lifting the
paint off later. I'll apply the first coat then let it dry briefly (about 5 min.) before applying the next and final coat. The
exact amount of time between coats of paint will vary from one product to another. You'll have to experiment. Essentially
you want to apply the second coat without lifting the first one off. The second coat should be adequate to cover the
metal without letting it show through. After this coat has dried for about 5 to 10 minutes, I'll take an X-Acto knife and
start to scrape and lift the paint off in areas unprotected and the most prone to damage. This will leave the bare metal
exposed just as in the real thing. The paint at this point should peel off rather than flake off. Reason being is that the
paint has not yet hardened. It's dry but not hardened. There is a difference. You just keep on peeling and lifting until
you are satisfied. Just don't over do it.
Plastic or resin kits the "lifting and scraping" technique remains the same. But you need to apply a undercoat of Silver
enamel to your part prior to this. This will simulate the metal substance of the piece. For this task I'll use Testors Silver
enamel. I apply a coat on the desired piece and let it dry and cure for a full day. The reason it's important to let it cure is
because it will form a strong bond onto the plastic or resin. This will prevent this coat from being scraped off with your
upper "painted" coat. Providing you stick to the drying times explained in the earlier notations, you should have no
trouble here. After this coat has dried, I apply my two coats of acrylics. When these have dried as desired I can start my
scraping and peeling. Even though the Silver base coat should be fairly fixed, you should take care not to scrape too
hard as you will scrape right through it and down to your plastic or resin. Well, that's all there is to it. It's really simple
and easy. Practice on some scrap's first to establish your own style. Remember that this is what works for me and it
should be used as a start for your own technique. And if you take your time and think about where these accessories
will wear the most you will have a very genuine looking piece of equipment. Feel free to E-mail me if you have any