Crusader III

Manufacturer: Battlefront
Genre: 15mm WW2 Wargaming

Comments: I've painted this tank for the Desert War in the standard Slate Grey/Light Stone pattern used by the Brits. I tried out a blutak mask (see below) to airbrush the grey over the sand, which gives a soft but abrupt edge — it would have been quicker and easier just to have brushed it on, since the camo should be hard-edged, but I wanted to try out the masking method.

All the markings are hand-painted, and I really don't have much idea how accurate they are, since I worked from a fairly limited image resource base. I like them well enough though, so they'll have to do.

Blutak Masking

Blutak, for those who don't know it by that name, is a soft, slightly sticky clay-like substance used for attaching posters to walls and that sort of thing. It can be used as a mask for airbrushing by rolling out cylindrical "snakes" and using them to outline the area to be airbrushed, filling in the remaining masked areas with ordinary masking tape. The idea is that the curve of the blutak cylinders creates a stand-off mask, i.e. a mask which isn't in close contact with the underlying surface. A little of the airbrush spary creeps in under this overhang, creating an edge which is softer than that produced by a surface contact mask, but more abrupt than a straight spray line.

The thicker the snakes, the softer the edge will be, but the less control you have conforming it to the profile of the area to be painted. I suppose that it could also be used in sheets cut to the appropriate mask shapes and then pressed lightly down over the surface to be sprayed, but I haven't tried that yet.