Sunday, 12 November 2017

T-55A Medium Tank [WIP - Tank Commander]

Painting black isn't easy. Prior to painting the T-55A tank commander's uniform, I haven't had any significant practice painting black apart from an Ork Warboss's loincloth. That was painted a long time ago i.e. three years ago to be exact. Since then, no opportunity has arisen until now to paint black. So it was with a fair bit of trepidation that I attempted the neutral blacks of this uniform.  

Tamiya T-55A Medium Tank work-in-progress: tank commander figurine

Three main types of black grace most of the painted miniatures I have seen - namely warm blacks, neutral blacks and cool blacks. The aforementioned loincloth was painted as a warm black. But for the commander's uniform I went with a neutral black. Paints used comprised a triad of Vallejo Model Color acrylics viz. Black (70.9550), Dark Grey (70.994) and Neutral Grey (70.992). By themselves, this trio of colours are dull and boring. Together though, they manifest a rather pleasing form of black. With the tank itself bathed in fairly warm hues, I thought that this was the best way to go.   

Scale comparison between the 1/35 scale plastic figurine and a paperclip as well as five sen coin
Not too happy with the way his mouth was sculpted but I did the best I could
Apart from the skin tone, the tank commander figurine offered a challenge in painting black clothing

Most of what is waist-down won't be seen once the tank commander is placed on the cupola. Despite this, I couldn't resist painting his trousers and boots as well. At the very least, it would've given me precious practice on painting black. Slowly but surely I'm getting a much better understanding of how colours such as black (and white) can be best represented through paint. From the headgear down to the trousers no washes were applied and the blacks you see consisted of only Vallejo paints. However, his boots received a wash of Citadel Shade Nuln Oil in order to differentiate its texture. 

Back of the tank commander's all black uniform ala Johnny Cash
Everything waist down won't be visible but they were still worked on as practice in painting black
Blacks on the uniform was neutral-ish and neither warm nor cool

Meanwhile, nothing overly complicated was attempted for his skin tone. A dilemma of whether to paint the tank commander's teeth arose as it wasn't sculpted on the figure. But sometimes it's best not to do something for the sake of it. And I ended up not painting in the teeth because I felt I would've made things worse. In hindsight, perhaps I should've tried sculpting s thin tow of teeth and painting it.

Staring wistfully into the distance, wondering if a tank commander's life was the life for him

It has been a while since I finished painting a figurine at any scale. And like the opening of the floodgates, I'm finding myself on a bit of a roll. I also finished Bronn the Sellsword (Game of Thrones) shortly thereafter and work is now finally resuming on Katana (Suicide Squad). My figure painting mojo is back so to speak. Now to find a sweet balance between figures and AFVs so as to keep things as fresh as possible hobby-wise. Thanks for reading and see you next week.


  1. Fantastic work my friend ! Awesome black !

  2. Nice start to the crew man. His face is quite expressive.

    1. Thank you Simon. His paint job is actually finished so what you see here is how he'll be in the final build.

  3. Outstanding! Black is certainly not the easiest colour to paint but you‘ve done a magnificent job of it! You could maybe have gone for a worn out/ brownish black leather for his cap but this might have been too distracting from the rest.

    1. Good advice Moiterei, and thanks. I wanted to see how pure neutral blacks would look like and I must admit it isn't too bad. Although going forward if I increase the overall level of weathering your advice will come in handy indeed :)

  4. Beautiful exercise of colour. Instructive too, thanks!

    1. Thank you Suber. Too much half tones are involved in making black work (and even then I didn't do enough here as the transitions are rough at a zoomed in level). As such a detailed tutorial is beyond me but I'm glad you found even the little bit of info on this post useful. :)


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