My first painted AFV and it’s a Stug A. I painted this Stug a while back in between the repainting of a Grenadier platoon. I had been looking through the Flames of War forums and I was inspired by the many brilliantly painted armoured vehicles. I had finally decided to take the plunge and paint a vehicle.
This, being a new aspect of painting, made me quite nervous as I wanted to create a convincing finish without knowing all of the techniques that vehicle modellers use. After doing a fair amount of research into the Stug and painting techniques I resolved myself to giving it a shot. The best learning tool is experience so here is the final result.
Being my first attempt at painting a vehicle I have to be quite critical and say that there are very few things that I got right. In fact there have been many occasions, including quite recently, where I looked at this Stug and have wanted to strip it down and repaint it. I have resisted strongly so that I have a chance to go over my work and see where I can improve on my techniques. This has taken a significant amount of willpower as it is not in my nature to settle for a finish that I am not happy with. However it will be good to see, over time, my progress in painting vehicles. I will go over some self analysis of the work.
While viewing other people’s modelled vehicles I was extremely impressed with the way that their highlighting and shading created a realistic finish. I attempted to replicate this, without knowing their techniques, through the use of multiple levels of subtle highlighting. In some areas I was applying four to five levels of lighter tones of German Grey. However the result, I feel, is too subtle. This was exacerbated by the matt varnish which toned down all of the colours and produced a muted result (curses to the Army Painter matt varnish). I had even highlighted the panel edges, where the brown camo hit, a lighter shade of brown; this too was muted away. However I can’t solely blame the varnish and in the future I will look at creating more striking highlights with smooth transitions from the base colour.
I like the camo pattern however I have since learned that to get a more striking effect from the camo is to darken the edges of the ‘blobs’. This way there is a greater contrast between it and the base colour. Also to lighten the centre of the camo ‘blobs’ slightly on the flat panels, creating a variation in colour that mimics the way that the light hits the larger surfaces in real life.
At the time of painting I didn’t know about paint chipping, nor how to do rust effects properly. I am not a fan of extreme weathering of a vehicle, I have seen it overused and I didn’t want to replicate that. However a measured application of each of the weathering techniques does look fantastic on a vehicle and I didn’t attempt most of them on this vehicle. I have done some general mud effects using pigments, hitting up the tracks hard and a general application on the panels that would get hit by mud. The effect, I feel, is acceptable, however the result is not great.
Lastly at the time I had little to no knowledge about the vehicle itself. I managed to find some information from google searching, but not much more than a general overview and some basic guides. I did utilise the paint scheme and setup that Battlefront has on their online store and since then I have realised that following this has led me to putting on my turret hatches back to front. Also my lack of knowledge meant that I missed out on picking out various pieces of detail because I didn’t know what they were, like the lights at the front, the wooden storage box on the side, etc. The Balkenkreuz was something I had decided on after being unable to find specifics on the vehicle markings. I discovered that the early Stugs had little to no numbering, nor were there many markings. However i decided thought that there would have been a Balkenkreuz without being sure which one would have been correct. In the end I decided on the oversized Balkenkreuz, unfortunately the decals I had were poorly printed with bad alignment, so I manually corrected the flaw.
Admittedly I have been quite harsh on myself with this piece. I do feel that I need this aggressive self analysis of my early work so that I identify what it is that I am truly not happy with and look to improve the effects and finishes in later work. This Stug was done a while back and since then I have been researching a lot into how and what the various modellers use achieve their effects. It has been quite an enjoyable area of investigation; it is a vast area with aspects from all scales being applicable or adjustable to this scale. I have also acquired a vast wealth of reference material on AFVs. It has been a shaky first foray, but a positive step to build upon.
Thank you for viewing this blog and feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions as comments. I do appreciate constructive feedback, both positive and negative.