So you wanna do an Afrika Korps paint scheme for your Axis troops? Well, if you're like me you want it to land somewhere between great looking and fairly fast. What follows is an overview of what I came up with to do just that. I hope you enjoy it.
First step was to airbush an appropriate desert tan color over the gray primer color that the models come in. I didn't worry about removing the existing decals as they get covered nicely with the tan. Try to get a nice even coverage with out getting too thick. You want just enough to cover the gray.
After that dries, choose a good contrasting color for your camo stripes. Here I went with a mohogany brown - a little redder than I wanted but it works out nicely. In an effort to increase speed, I opted not to mask off anything and instead let the stripes blur out at the edges. If you want a crisper stripe you can use blue tack or even masking tape to get the effect you desire.
Once all of that is dry its time to move onto decals. Most people save decals for last, but this is why they come out looking like .....well, decals. With the exception of the "Achtung!" warning stickers (which are Dust decals) I used an assortment of 1/35th scale dry transfers from Archer Fine Transfers. The tank numbers, kill markings, Afrika Korps symbol, the balkenkruetz and some miscellaneous squad/unit markings where applied following the excellent tutorials available from Archer Fine Transfers, while the wet decals were applied over a dried coat of gloss medium.
With all the decal work done, a light coat of matte medium was sprayed over them to protect them from the next step - paint chipping. The paint chipping is done in two quick and dirty steps. I used a couple of torn sponges (a combination of sea sponge, and blister pack sponge) to apply the original base coat color over the mahogany stripes near edges that would naturally wear, followed by a gray to add indications of the primer showing through. Very sharp corners are emphasized and even filled in a bit with a brush to create larger wear spots. In the photo below you can see the tan sponging on the left and both the tan and gray sponging on the right. After this, various details are picked out in a couple of other colors. The piston rods and gun bits in silver, and the hoses and pipes in charcoal grays. You can also hit those worn gray edges with a bit of silver to show metal wearing through the gray primer.
Once all the sponging is dry its time to start tying it all together. We start with a satin or gloss spray coat to protect the paint and decals from the next step - an oil filter. An oil filter is a very thin oil paint wash applied to the entire model to add depth and subtle shading. I use a mixture of burnt sienna, some umber, and a tad of payne's gray, thinned heavily with mineral spirits or turpenoid. Apply it and let it dry. You can also apply a few more coats where you would like deeper tones. When this coat is dry you can use a q-tip or make-up sponge dampend with your thinner to remove/wipe the oil wash from areas that would wear and the upper surfaces that get more light.
After the filter is thoroughly dry you can now apply the pin wash. This is a darker and thicker oil wash used to pick out details and line panels, rivets, and other such details. Though its not absolutely necessary, if you're careful, you may choose to spray another coat of satin or gloss over the filter wash. I used a mix of burnt umber and payne's gray and mineral spirits - a milky consistency is good here, somewhere between whole and 2%. With this wash load up a pointed brush, dab just a bit away, and then touch the areas you want it be applied to. You will notice the capillary action will suck the wash from the brush into the recesses of your model. If the wash doesnt make it all the way along a detail you can touch the brush further along and continue the effect. Do not pull you brush across the model - simply dab the point to the area.
Once the oil washes are set and dried, I coated the model with a spray of matte finish. From here its all down hill. I based the model with white glue and some sand, adding a few large rocks as well. This was painted, paint washed and dry-brushed after it set. At this stage its time to add some dirt and dust. I used a mixture of Vallejo pigment colors - a white ashy color, a yellow sand, and a little brown to add depth. These where mixed as I was working to keep it a bit random and then liberally applied to the model. I chose to concentrate on the lower half of the model and in the deeper creases in the top half. Between each application I set the pigments by dabbing a little rubbing alcohol to the pigments. Be careful not to move the pigments. Repeat till you get the level of dustiness you desire. After this step you can adjust the pigment application by brushing away the pigments with a flat brush from the areas you don's want it.
When all of this is done, another light spray of matte finish will lock it all in and protect your model. I also added some buffalo grass in a few choice areas. I chose a dried brownish-yellow grass to help blend it into the base.
Well, there you have it. Quick and dirty Afrika Korp. I hope you enjoyed it and if you have any questions or comments feel free to comment and I will try to get back to you.