Sponge Wedge Camouflage

This is an example of a painting technique described on the GZG Mailing List.

NSL GEV APC, front view

NSL GEV APC, front view, using Sponge Wedge Camouflage Technique

The figure is a GZG 25mm resin GEV (Ground Effect Vehicle) APC (Armoured Personnel Carrier). It's about 4.5" (11.5 cm) long and 2.25" (6 cm) wide.

NSL GEV APC, rear view

NSL GEV APC, rear view, using Sponge Wedge Camouflage Technique

When I first attempted to paint one of these figures, I primed it black and then set about putting down a base coat of olive green. The base coat took an hour to paint, as I was trying not to paint any of the shadowed black area. I still needed to go over the olive with a second coat, add the other colours in the camouflage pattern, and touch up any black portions that were accidentally overpainted. The camouflage alone would have taken over 2 hours to apply.

The above camouflage pattern was completed in 10 minutes!

The secret is using sponge foam wedges. The mailing list suggested using cosmetic application wedges. These are dense white sponges that come in packs of about 25. They are very cheap. For this vehicle, however, I used something different. I used the black sponge wedges that you get in hobby, paint and hardware stores. The black sponge is not as dense, thus creating more of a mottled effect. These sponges are usually on wooden or plastic sticks. I paid US$1 for four at the local Hobby Lobby.

I first prepped the model. A fair bit of work was needed to fix the resin that had filled up some of the seams of the armoured skirt. I glued the turret on with super glue (Flash gap filling glue). The rear gun needed to be "pinned" before gluing. I primed the model with black Krylon primer.

I picked two different colours for the camouflage scheme. The base green colour is "Timberline" by Delta Ceramcoat. The second colour is "Fawn" in Plaid's line of "Folk Art" paints. These paints can be purchased in North America in Wal-Mart and in hobby stores like Michael's.

Wet the sponge with the paint, then dab the sponge until most of the paint is gone. Note that if you drag the sponge across whatever material (pallette, cardboard, your clothes, the cat) to remove excess paint, you may find you still have too much paint on the sponge. Don't drag the sponge, dab it. The paint soaks into the sponge and when you dab it onto the model you want a very light coat of paint.

The painting technique is a variation on dry brushing. Instead of "brushing", however, you want to "dab" the model with the sponge. The process goes very quickly, as the sponge covers a large area. First I dabbed the figure with the timberline green colour. The recessed areas stayed black. Likewise, the areas around the hatch covers stayed black. What used to be done by way of a careful washing and drybrushing technique was now down very quickly with this dabbing technique.

Once I had covered the figure in timberline to my satisfaction, I went over it in fawn. Note that the fawn colour looks very subtle in this picture. Under bright lights it is subtle, but it shows up better under normal indoor lighting. I will probably do other camouflage patterns with colours that have a greater contrast.

I let some of the black primer show through, as I wanted a three coloured camouflage scheme; I did not completely cover the vehicle in timerberline green. The dark patches you see in the pictures is not dark green, but black primer. The green is the timberline. You might have to squint to see the fawn, which is a yellowish brown.

After 10 minutes, the miniature's camouflage pattern was finished.

The next step took twice as long as the camouflage pattern. I painted the skirts black where they were missed with primer, or where the black was dabbed on them. I did a dry brush in an aluminum colour (also from Plaid's "Folk Art" line of paints) to make the armoured skirt stand out.

After the skirt was done, I went and did a wash on a couple of areas where I was too heavy with the dabbing. I expected some mistakes as this model was the first time I'd used the technique. I used "magic wash" (4 parts distilled water to 1 part Future acrylic floor wax) and Games Workshop's black ink to put a black wash in the areas that needed it. I then carefully dabbed parts of this area where the wash had been too thick.

The final step, before applying the matte finish, was to place the decals. These are Pegasus Decals, from their set of German World War I aircraft marking decals. In spite of what the decals say, I used a third party decal setting solution (Champ Decal-Set by Champion Decals) to fix them in place. Along with a Maltese Cross on each side, I put two numbers on the rear door. Though you can't see it, this vehicle is number 11 (for 1st Platoon, 1st Vehicle).

If you would like to order Pegasus Decals, you can do so from Hannants, a British model kit and accessory company that does international mail order. I highly recommend them. The decal set I used was PEGD7205 German WW1 National Markings Vol. 1 (Maltese Crosses).

The final step was to spray the model with two coats of Krylon Matte Finish. The longest single step involved placing the decals (something I hadn't done in years...).

Note: I've tried this technique with models of other sizes with reasonable success. I recently tried it on a Phalon infantry figure (25mm) and it worked well. For the Phalon I did use the white cosmetic sponge wedges. It takes a little bit of experimentation to get the right amount of paint on the sponge, but the results were good and quick. As a hint, it is better to use not enough paint than it is to use too much.