Painting the Woodchuck

Painting the Woodchuck

I've been doing a fair bit of painting, practicing, experimentation and learning about the use of Vallejo acrylic paints recently.  These are top-quality paints with finely-ground pigments, and a similar selection is offered by Reaper Miniatures in their Master Series paints.  Similar techniques can be used with less-expensive Polly S or craft store acrylics.  This section is not really intended as a set of instructions, but more of a documentation of how I painted this particular sample model in hopes that it will inspire you to try some new techniques.  You can find more of my experimentations with paints and such in this thread on the Railroad Line forum:  Chambers Gas & Oil -- Structure Build (1/35 scale).

The assembled body was first given a coat of Krylon primer (spray can) and allowed to dry.  This was followed by a coat of Krylon Flat Brown (dark brown color) ... and after that dried, a LIGHT spray of Krylon Camouflage Tan.  The Flat Brown provided a good base with dark coloring in the recesses between boards on the siding.  The Camo Tan was sprayed lightly at an angle to avoid filling in those grooves and to create an un-even wood-color base.  The light overspray also produced some nice shadows in the window areas.

A variety of Vallejo paints were mixed to produce this palette of colors, ranging from a very pale yellowish off-white to a deeper orange-yellow color.  The specific paints mixed here were:  #321 Highlights British Tkcr., #345 Spinter Camouflage Base, #73006 Chalk White, #70837 Pale Sand, #70847 Dark Sand and #70949 Light Yellow.

This photo shows drops of the various paints before they were thinned and blended.  For this project, I used a fairly thin consistency -- roughly 4 drops of paint, 1 drop of "wet water" and 1 drop of dry-time extender for each color. 

"Wet water" was mixed in an eye dropper bottle using 90% water and 10% Liquitex Flow-Aid.  Windshield washer fluid (automotive) is a cheap alternative to the Flow-Aid if you're budget-conscious.  Americana "Drying Time Extender Medium" and similar items can be found at the craft store, alongside the acrylic craft paints.

These colors were applied using a technique that I call "wet dry-brushing" ... and, yes, that is a bit of an oxymoron!  But, stick with me ... "typical" dry-brushing lays down opaque streaks of color, but "wet dry-brushing" lays down TRANSPARENT streaks of color.  This allows you to build up a lot of subtle variation in color and tone without a lot of paint build up.  Where one color overlaps another, you'll see a bit of each.  HOW?  That's where it's similar to normal dry-brushing, you are working with WET paint, but you wipe most of it off the brush before applying the brush to the model ... as illustrated by the many streaks of color on the paper in this photo.

As they said in the 70's ... let the streaking begin!  Used an inexpensive Loew-Cornell #5/0 brush to apply the streaks ... starting with a grayish off-white shade.

Continued the "wet dry-brushing" by adding more streaks of the various lighter shades ...

This can be done to achieve varying degrees of opacity.  In this case, I wanted the base of acrylic colors to look fairly worn and faded.

Added some Vallejo #73005 Dirt (light, warm brown) to the palette and laid in some of that fairly LIGHTLY and selectively placed ...

Did a light top coat using a mix of #321 Highlights British Tanker (mustardy tan color) and #70953 Flat Yellow.

At this point, the model has a fairly pale yellow look ... the golden tones shown on the finished model come later ...

Next, I used this Ampersand Parallel Line Tool to distress the paint a bit.  The tool was purchased from along with the ceramic palette and a variety of other art supplies.  Dick Blick has a great selection plus good prices and service.  (No, I don't get a kick-back, but it would be nice!)

The tool was LIGHTLY dragged down each board -- enough to scratch the recently-applied acrylics paints, but NOT hard enough to go through the flat brown spray paint underneath.  This detail will really "pop" once an ink wash is applied.  BTW, you could do the same thing with an x-acto knife and a LIGHT touch, but that parallel line tool is real handy for stuff like this and also for distressing actual stripwood siding.  You might find it at Michael's and other craft stores ... if not, click the blue text in previous section to find it at Dick Blick art supply web site.

The doors, windows and pilot were painted with a mix of #341 Flesh Base and #347 Shadows Flesh.  I'd hate to meet the fellow with the "Flesh Base" skin color ... I'd call it salmon.  The "Shadows" color is a deep red.  A bit scary to use those on a figure, but they combine nicely to make a faded oxide red color.  This was applied thin, with multiple layers in some areas to build up depth and thinner in some of the cracks and crevices to let the underlying brown show thru in spots.

Next, I applied Woodland Scenics dry-transfers to the letterboards ... burnished that down with the burnishing paper provided ... and LIGHTLY scored horizontal lines across the letterboards with an x-acto knife.  The entire body was given a wash made with 1 drop Vallejo #72091 Sepia Ink (transparent), 3 drops wet water and 1 drop dry-time extender.  This gave the white lettering a nice faded tone and made all the wood colors and distressing "pop."  DO NOT try this with any drafting inks, as they will be much too intense and quite likely destroy the whole paint job.  The Vallejo inks are THIN and translucent.  Very nice effect.

The radiator was done by mixing some Black paint with some #347 Splinter Blotches (warm, dark brown) which produced a nice purply-black faded color.  This was drybrushed (actual dry-brushing!) with some #73003 Steel.  With a bit of gloss over the headlights, this would do quite nicely.

It was getting late in the evening by this point, and I got a crazy urge to do some sub-miniature airbrush-style painting with a brush ... blended blue and white to do the sky tones, brown and white to do the earth.  Close-up shows how it looks magnified ... inset shows the pearlescent appearance it gives when viewed at actual size.  Not quite sure that I'd try talking anybody else into this just yet, but it was an interesting experiment.  LOL

I hope this page has given you some ideas and inspiration for painting your own Wandering Woodchuck and/or other models.  As much as I enjoy making the kits, it's awfully nice to get to sit down and build and paint one occasionally.  Big smile there!  Cheers, Dallas

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