Welcome back for a second foray into the world of a master modeler!

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures board game that combines some of the best elements of tabletop miniature wargames, and fuses it together with primary board game mechanics to result in a challenging, fun, miniatures experience. It is easy to learn, quick to set up, and yet offers many layers of both strategic and tactical gameplay that unfold over repeated play. The action is fast and furious, and there’s little to no rulebook reference needed, so you can enjoy every moment of gameplay without interruption!

All of the models in Dust Tactics will look even better than they already do with just a small effort to paint, or personalize them in some way. In this second of three articles, we continue following along as master modeler José Brito fully customizes the two Axis combat walkers found in the Dust Tactics core set.

In the last article , José focused on the physical elements of the model by adding surface details, extra wires and cabling, armor plating and much more. Today, we’ll watch as he begins the painting process. You may be surprised just how quickly and simply a few layers of paint can transform these models into spectacularly unique playing pieces!


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Now that we have altered both models in varying ways , we have something that looks familiar but has a number of bits and pieces that still seem out of place. Therefore, our first step is to prime the models with a neutral base coat.

Step 1 - Primer base coat

I have chosen to use Vallejo brand White Primer, and will spray both models with several light coats of paint using a standard airbrush. You can achieve the same results using most any white primer that is designed for plastic models, as long as you make sure not to apply too much paint too quickly. Patience is one of your most important tools, so it is much better to apply several light coats of primer, than to spray one heavy coat all at once. If it is too thick, you can quickly lose much of your surface details, and all the tiny elements that make the Dust Tactics models so beautiful with only a base coat. Here are pictures of the two Axis robots after priming:

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You can see that suddenly all the extra bits we added in the first article look like they belong to the original model. With just a single layer of base coat, it’s like we have created two brand new models to play with!

Step 2 - Plan your painting scheme

Once the primer has fully dried, I sat and just began to imagine what kind of color or painting scheme I would use for each model. This is very fun because you can create many kinds of history and background for your units, which will make playing with them so much more enjoyable.

For these Axis robots, I chose to paint one in a fairly standard, two-tone winter camouflage. The second walker was special though, and would represent a vehicle that was rushed to the battle front without ever having time to paint it before it left the factory. So, I would prime the model in red, and add a thin white wash over the entire walker. Let’s begin!

Step 3 - Apply a base color

Using my airbrush, I painted the winter camouflaged walker with Vallejo Model Air 71001 White, and the other robot using Vallejo Model Air 71084 Fire Red. Of course, you can choose whatever colors you prefer, but again it’s most important to cover your model with several thin layers rather than one thick layer of paint. You always want to keep as many surface details as possible. Here are two pictures of the Lothar: 


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Step 4 - Add a paint wash

The red primed model then received several well thinned washes of white paint, using a standard large brush. I made sure to apply the paint and spread it across large sections so no single area seemed solid white. Instead, the entire model had a look like it was quickly and incompletely doused with some white paint before it lumbered off the assembly line! I wasn't very careful, so messy was the style I strove for. The only last painting step I took was to paint certain detail elements black. For example, some pipes, some cabling, the gun, some armor plating in the robot claw, and more. By painting these small items in black, we are now prepared for the final step of detailing and weathering the robot.


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Step 5 - Prepare the camouflage

The second model was due for some camouflage, and one of the simplest tricks for creating camouflage on a model is to use masking tape. I like to use Tristan brand masking tape, which is very smooth and ideal for this style of painting. I use a small, clean glass mirror to lay out several strips of tape. Using a marker, and a ruler if you’d like, I draw my geometric shapes on the masking tape in preparation for applying these to the model. Just imagine what shapes you’d like your white areas to be, and those are the shapes you’d draw. Sometimes I will tear tape into different shapes when I want a rough edged camouflage style.


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Cut the tape carefully using a sharp hobby knife, and transfer your small masking tape shapes (called masks) in clusters all across your model. Make sure to lightly press down on the tape edges if you’re interested in getting sharp paint lines; if the tape is pulling off of your model, the spray paint will seep into the edges and prevent sharp, straight lines.

Step 6 - Apply secondary camouflage color

Once the masking was complete, I sprayed the model in three layers using two different shades of grey. By starting with a light grey, adding sections of slightly darker grey, then returning to the lighter grey, you easily achieve much more visual interest in your models. This color modulation will add a lot with very little effort! Once the paint has dried completely, gently remove the masking tape from your model. I use a pair of tweezers because it allows me to grab small corners from any part of the model. Already, the character of this winter camouflage model is apparent!


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Step 7 - Prepare for the next and final article!

We will complete both models in the next article, including adding decals, small painting damage and finishing the bases. You will see exactly how I finish these robots with just a few extra tricks.

See you next time!

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures game of brutal combat for 2-4 players. Based on the popular universe created by artist Paolo Parente, Dust Tactics presents an alternate 1940s reality in which alien technology fuels gigantic machines of war, and the world's superpowers clash over rare mineral deposits that could ultimately decide the outcome of WWII.

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