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AFV Painting & Weathering
Answers to questions about the right paint scheme or tips for the right effect.
Sheen?
flyers42
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 05:56 AM UTC
I look at some pictures of tanks and to me they dont look dead flat, to me it looks like some painted surfaces have a very low to satin gloss?Do you guys agree?does anyone mimic that buy adding a little gloss paint to the dead flat at like 90% flat to 10% gloss?
TopSmith
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 08:03 AM UTC
Most of the paint I use is not dead flat. Most military vehicles have a sort of satin finish. Weathering will flatten the sheen depending on the amount of weathering.
Kevlar06
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 09:31 AM UTC
I dunno, in the "old days" of MERDC, before CARC paint, we could get paint to look pretty flat right out of the can. But, when we started to mix paint with MOGAS, it might come out a with a slight sheen. And before that, when all vehicles were painted in a dark forest green, they were indeed painted in a semi-gloss finish. CARC paint, by its nature, has a very slight sheen, due to the epoxy-like surface designed to be impermeable to chemical agents, and it doesn't weather out quite like other paints did. But eventually, all these paints will become flat due to the effects of UV radiation, rainwater, dirt, dust and wind.
VR, Russ
Scarred
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 01:44 PM UTC
Are you sure you're not looking at a wet vehicle? Our CARCed up rigs were flat. Even Krylon touch ups were not as flat. Tanks, Humvee's, Bradleys, 5 tons, deuces, CUCV's all flat. The only time I've seen vehicles with a "sheen" were coming off the wash point, in the rain or coming out of the river. The only vehicle I've seen with a sheen when dry was Stormin' Norman's jeep at the Ft. Lewis museum. That thing was polished within an inch of it's life. Rumor had it that his drivers got that shine by using Dexron but I always suspected armor-all.
Dioramartin
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 03:15 PM UTC
I think it’s an illusion, I use dead flat finishes but even then at certain angles (like a raking light) it can reflect a sheen. But you have to ask the question, if you’re trying to camouflage an AFV is there any earthly reason why you’d risk giving it a sheen that would bounce sunlight straight into the eyes of the enemy? You might spoil their aim by dazzling them for a few seconds I guess…
PRH001
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 04:19 PM UTC
I’ve found most non-matte surfaces are on the interior of armor where brightness, wear resistance and solvent resistance is more important than cutting reflectivity.

Many models I’ve seen will have a dead flat finish on everything, when a semigloss or even a gloss would be more accurate on vertical and non-floor surfaces. I’m not saying this a a rule, but even dirty surfaces that are gloss or semigloss still show sheen most of the time.
On the exterior of many vehicles matte surfaces with heavy wear, oils or fuels on them will also have a sheen.

Paul H
Scarred
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 05:23 PM UTC

Quoted Text

I think it’s an illusion, I use dead flat finishes but even then at certain angles (like a raking light) it can reflect a sheen. But you have to ask the question, if you’re trying to camouflage an AFV is there any earthly reason why you’d risk giving it a sheen that would bounce sunlight straight into the eyes of the enemy? You might spoil their aim by dazzling them for a few seconds I guess…



Good point. Our surveillance platoon used high power optics, for both daylight and lowlight, along with radars and thermal imaging, to search for targets. If there was any chance it could reflect light that would be a dead giveaway and make you a target for a stonk or a air strike.
iamheaminot
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 06:53 PM UTC
Guess it depends on time frame.
The olive drab that our Vietnam period M113s were finished were semi gloss when you stood by them however some distance away they appeared matte.
Some of our vehicles were painted in a bronze green, Whether matte, semi gloss or gloss depended how well the paints were stirred. British paints, the manufacturer, did not make soldier proof paints.
Some "B" type (A types were fighting vehicles or armoured vehicles to be more precise) vehicles, particularly the pool vehicles, the paint had deteriorated to the point where the surface become powdery to the touch due to the elements and without TLC. To brighten them up for parade we would use kerosene on a rag and wipe them all over. Talk about slippery and if it rained, the droplets would bead on the surface. LOL.
A lighter green was used on camp vehicles, eg trucks, cars etc used to service a camp. And they were semi gloss to gloss. Always exceptions to the rule.
I base these observations purely on serving on them as a soldier of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps.I am basing this information on the period 1966 to 1975. And I can only speak for the New Zealand Army.
Also great variances in the colour olive drab. US or Australian vehicles.
Imagine a US painted M113 with touch ups of British Bronze Green. It happened.
So I guess at the end of the day, never say never. Troopie are troopies and troopie's will paint vehicles the way troopie's do.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 07:11 PM UTC










I would say that the surfaces in the images above are not dead flat. Even if they were dead flat it will look strange on a model



Replicating this surface on a model in 1/35th scale is not done by a dead flat surface:
https://www.militaryfactory.com/armor/detail.asp?armor_id=1 (12 images of an M1 Abrams)

A really flat paint on a model will give the impression of the real object being covered in velvet.






This one is really flat but there are still highlights. In 1/35 it would be a little shinier than dead flat.



/ Robin
Scarred
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 08:01 PM UTC
Perhaps it depends on what you consider matte, flat or satin. Dead flat would be clothing. Smooth metal painted flat colors, like a primer, would fall into that category. Primer has a surface that is almost textured to give tooth for the paint to stick. Smooth, flat colors on smooth metal could probably be a satin. Scuffed paint and areas where people climb or crawl could also be different from surrounding areas that aren't worn.

That bottom Leopard almost looks damp.
Scarred
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 08:05 PM UTC

Quoted Text

Guess it depends on time frame.
The olive drab that our Vietnam period M113s were finished were semi gloss when you stood by them however some distance away they appeared matte.
Some of our vehicles were painted in a bronze green, Whether matte, semi gloss or gloss depended how well the paints were stirred. British paints, the manufacturer, did not make soldier proof paints.
Some "B" type (A types were fighting vehicles or armoured vehicles to be more precise) vehicles, particularly the pool vehicles, the paint had deteriorated to the point where the surface become powdery to the touch due to the elements and without TLC. To brighten them up for parade we would use kerosene on a rag and wipe them all over. Talk about slippery and if it rained, the droplets would bead on the surface. LOL.
A lighter green was used on camp vehicles, eg trucks, cars etc used to service a camp. And they were semi gloss to gloss. Always exceptions to the rule.
I base these observations purely on serving on them as a soldier of the Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps.I am basing this information on the period 1966 to 1975. And I can only speak for the New Zealand Army.
Also great variances in the colour olive drab. US or Australian vehicles.
Imagine a US painted M113 with touch ups of British Bronze Green. It happened.
So I guess at the end of the day, never say never. Troopie are troopies and troopie's will paint vehicles the way troopie's do.



Tho old Murpy's Laws of Combat:
No combat ready unit has ever passed inspection.
No inspection ready unit has ever passed combat.

Bravo1102
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 08:10 PM UTC
The nature of color and light and human vision being what they are a sheen will be perceived even when none is present.

Flatness of paint breaks down due to weather, sunlight and handling. I recall being on a new dead flat tank, climbing on leaving glossy patches from my greasy hands and boot skuffs. After the first couple of rains the flat had faded.

Remember military vehicles get dirty and dusty and then are cleaned with water that is often recycled effectively spraying a thin coat of dust back onto the vehicle. Any paint finish has pores and absorbs the
dust particles. But not every surface absorbs sunlight, rain and dust the same way.

And after all that is said, it's really all in the eye of the beholder. I'll see dead flat and someone else will notice a slight sheen.

As for models, none of mine are ever dead flat because there's always some kind of handling (by the crew) or weathering that left a glossy patch even if it's something as stupid as a split canteen cup. It's varying the texture for visual interest.
Leopard-2
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 09:16 PM UTC
I also stew over this once and after studying real things and personal experiences i came to the conclusion that it depends on a lot of factors:

A) Scale effect: Due to the fact that surfaces on a vehicle are much larger than on a model much more light is reflected in a different way. Also the light source is proportionally larger to it's size on a model. Take your car on a sunny day for example and look how large the sun is when you look in the reflection. Now do the same Thing with a glossy painted car model and a normal table lamp. Way too much direct light reflection, right? Also it look too shiny too compared to a real car photographed from a few meters away. One way to imitate this would be colour modulation style. A technique which i actually never really tried to this day. It looks cool but will be very hard to do in a realistic way, at least for me...

B) Daytime, and weather conditions: Just think about cleaning your windows or your car on a very sunny day and you will know what i mean ;-). I see everything and actually get the job never done to sadisfaction because you see EVERYTHING, right?

C) Real paint: In fact real paint on vehicles actually is not really dead flat due to it's chemical state unless you really want it to be. If the paint would be too flat it would suffer from too much mechanical strain and dirtying.

D) Environment: Go and take a walk in the and look and the leaves of a tree or soil on the ground. Are they really flat? No, they actually aren't (in most cases). Something dead flat could stand out more or less under such conditions and camouflage often is more than just matchy matchy paint. Okay, deserts are a different thing but anyway.

E) Age of the paint: mechanical/chemical load and UV light stress paint overtime (as we all know i quess) which causes paint to go more to really dead flat someday. On a military or constrution vehicle this usually goes quicker compared to cars due to different demands regarding glossyness and durability of the paint and the way and conditions under which the vehicle is used of course. Have a couple of soldiers climbing all over it with their (dirty) boots, speed through the bushes, wallow in the mud and get the dirt off with high-pressure cleaner a couple of times and there you have it.

E) Dust: The most natural dulling agent you can get. Do i need to type more?

F) Quality of reference photos: modern cameras make much better photos and films. Simple as that although it also heavily depends on the photographer.



As you can see this whole subject is just actually as complex as weathering itself is. That's why it's acutally part of the weathering. It depends on your personal liking and the vehicle you want to build and display.
Dioramartin
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Posted: Wednesday, October 02, 2019 - 11:05 PM UTC
This is quite an important thread, I can’t help noticing how many modellers seem to settle for toy-like satin/semi-gloss effects. I agree with a lot of what’s been said in the last two posts & should also self-correct, it’s not exactly an “illusion” because the sheen really is there. Forgive me for posting my own stuff but hey Robin used images to illustrate his point. While looking for examples I was quickly reminded how I invariably deleted photos that had a strong sheen effect straight off the camera because they didn’t look realistic to me. But here’s a few that evaded the red button – bear in mind you’re looking at totally flat/matt/ultra-dull finish AND a light weathering haze of pastels dust on top…







The point being even these show some sheen, although I’d accept a partial counter-argument that there’s an element of over-exposure in the photography too. Years ago I gave up on all brands of flat varnish because they invariably “sheened” under daylight conditions. I seem to be in a heretic minority of one, applying student-grade artists’ acrylics (sharp intake of breath) mixed with Tamiya X21 Flat base (howls of derision) with a soft paintbrush (rotten tomatoes & eggs flying) to get a completely “dead” appearance. Well nearly dead, but at least not like this…



Bravo1102
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Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2019 - 12:14 AM UTC
I agree. The only armor that should have a distinct semi-gloss to gloss finish would be parade vehicles and that 1950-70s olive drab. Some photos show high gloss finishes on trucks in Vietnam.

Again textures to interest the viewer. They drilled it into me in art school.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2019 - 02:43 AM UTC
Gloss paint goes matte/dull after a while out in the real weather. I remember the matte pink look on red Volvos in the 80'ies .....
Matte paint jobs have a slight sheen after a while.

Compare Tims model images with the ones I dredged up from the internet (took me maybe 10 minutes).
I call this satin or maybe slightly matted satin. If someone wants to call it matte then be my guest

The last Leopard image: The ground is dry and the mud stuck in the wheels looks dry but it does feel as if the tank itself is damp/moist.

/ Robin

Scarred
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Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2019 - 04:48 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Gloss paint goes matte/dull after a while out in the real weather. I remember the matte pink look on red Volvos in the 80'ies .....
Matte paint jobs have a slight sheen after a while.

Compare Tims model images with the ones I dredged up from the internet (took me maybe 10 minutes).
I call this satin or maybe slightly matted satin. If someone wants to call it matte then be my guest

The last Leopard image: The ground is dry and the mud stuck in the wheels looks dry but it does feel as if the tank itself is damp/moist.

/ Robin




Pink Volvos, saw my first one in Berlin, owned by a soldier in my unit. It was one of those cars that got sold and resold to and by soldiers rotating in and out of Germany. And in the U.S. if you want to see a paint job go gloss to flat look at any Dodge vehicle. Especially mini vans.

I noticed that about the wheels but I remember many many mornings sitting in the gunners hatch just before dawn and seeing dew dampen the horizontal surfaces of my humvee and the guys sleeping but the sides and wheels would be dry. My k-pot would be wet on top, the sleeping bags would be damp unless they were smart enough and put their ponchos over them and I'd have my poncho over over the M60 or M2 to keep the moisture from mixing with the volcanic ash of YFC or dust of NTC.

Kinda miss those mornings.
Bravo1102
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Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2019 - 05:21 AM UTC

Quoted Text

Gloss paint goes matte/dull after a while out in the real weather. I remember the matte pink look on red Volvos in the 80'ies .....
Matte paint jobs have a slight sheen after a while.

Compare Tims model images with the ones I dredged up from the internet (took me maybe 10 minutes).
I call this satin or maybe slightly matted satin. If someone wants to call it matte then be my guest

The last Leopard image: The ground is dry and the mud stuck in the wheels looks dry but it does feel as if the tank itself is damp/moist.

/ Robin




I see rail tanker cars at work every day. I've seen them brand new in gloss black and how the sun slowly bleaches them to a flat grey from the top down. I also see the newly painted engines in gloss livery slowly turn into a flat finish.

I'm in agreement.
RobinNilsson
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Posted: Thursday, October 03, 2019 - 07:09 AM UTC


The hood/bonnet is matt the rest has a little bit of sheen to it
flyers42
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Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 - 07:51 AM UTC
"Even if they were dead flat it will look strange on a model"

what would look strange? dead flat?
GeraldOwens
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Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 - 09:52 AM UTC

Quoted Text

I look at some pictures of tanks and to me they dont look dead flat, to me it looks like some painted surfaces have a very low to satin gloss?Do you guys agree?does anyone mimic that buy adding a little gloss paint to the dead flat at like 90% flat to 10% gloss?



Modern camouflage paints tend to be matte (or flat), though smooth, man-made surfaces will always reflect more light than chaotic, natural surfaces.

Cold War era armor (US and Soviet, mainly) were painted in semigloss colors, allegedly because smoother finishes would be easier to decontaminate in nuclear, biological or chemical warfare environments. I suspect it was mainly a pretext for everything looking spiffy for inspections. US Olive Drab went semigloss right after World War Two, until it was replaced by the MERDC paints in 1974. That said, the sheen diminished quickly when the paint got dusty in the field.
b2nhvi
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Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 - 06:42 PM UTC
Sheen? Charlie Sheen? Tiger's blood will fix that.
Bravo1102
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Posted: Wednesday, October 09, 2019 - 11:15 PM UTC
You really want to see flat finishes look at color shots and film of USAAF olive drab aircraft in 1942.

Then there's the effects of salt and spray on carrier aircraft. High gloss gull grey and white dead flat by the end of a cruise.
drabslab
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Posted: Saturday, October 12, 2019 - 09:16 PM UTC
We used to wash our tanks with a cloth and a minimum of diesel to make it shine nicely
GazzaS
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Posted: Saturday, October 12, 2019 - 10:44 PM UTC
I once had a battalion commander whose woodland camo painted Jeep was waxed and buffed with Armor-All used on the tires.

Looked really weird!