Trying a new painting technique – painting cammo with a sponge

November 24, 2010

In the middle of the year I came across a painting technique new to me that I thought I would one day trial. Will over at Will’s Wargames Blog has a post where he mentioned that he had achieved a mottled camouflage pattern by painting using a sponge. I thought that this was well worth trying at a later date – the later date being now, when I’m painting up my ESCI/Italeri Opel Blitz Ambulance variant truck as a mobile HQ.

I wanted the mobile HQ to have a camouflage paint scheme, so last week I bought a common washing sponge (for cleaning around the house or washing the car…you know the kind! Artificial sponge in a yellow or orange colour…why, here’s a photo of the one I used:  ). It cost something like $2.59 at the supermarket.

Last night I decided to try out how I thought this technique would work. I decided to tear pieces off the sponge, roughly trim the torn off piece using my scalpel and then, whilst holding it with tweezers, dip it in paint and then dab it onto the Opel Blitz. Should be easy, right?

I made sure the sponge was holding plenty of paint before each application; pressed it against the truck for a couple of seconds then removed it, pressing it on a second time if the paint was too thin. When I had the green splotches of paint placed to my satisfaction, I cleaned up and made myself a cup of tea.

When I came back, I saw I had applied the paint too thickly! Big air bubbles mired in the thick paint weren’t popping and instead of the paint lying smoothly and flatly, it had lots of texture to it. I grabbed a brush and tried to flatten it, which just went and caused all sorts of trouble, as some splotches of paint had a ‘skin” on them around the edges whereas others didn’t and touching any of it with the brush just made the lumpy ridge-like textures worse. Have a look at how it looked (once I conceded defeat and laid down my brush):  . See those ridges, hills, lumps and so on?

Tonight I decided to try applying the brown paint but I thought I could avoid the mistakes made last night thorough applying the paint at normal strength and thickness by tonight watering it down to 50% consistency.

Seemed to be logical.

Couldn’t see how I could stuff it up this time.

But I forgot about gravity.

When I applied this ‘thinner’ paint on the sides of the Opel Blitz, it just ran straight down the sides and pooled underneath, making a mess of some of what I’d already done. I’m typing this while I wait for the whole mess to thoroughly dry out and I’ll try to paint over my mistakes tonight if I have time. If it looks really bad, I may try to hide it (no irony intended) by glueing some lichen over it.

I think this is still a valid technique of painting camouflage, but paint strength is obviously a factor in success (or failure) as is the technique of applying it to the model.

6 Responses to “Trying a new painting technique – painting cammo with a sponge”

  1. Peter Stone said

    To use a sponge to paint with you would need to use acrylic paint that has not been watered down at all. In fact, after dipping the sponge into the paint I would pat almost all of the paint off on a piece of paper, and then very lightly dab it on.
    For myself, I preferred using the drybrushing technique to put on camo.

  2. Paul said

    Mate, I too hae tried this without much joy and gave up on it pretty quickly.

    let us know if you find away around it.

    I had thought of using a higher density foam such as that used in sleeping mats for the field. With the higher cell density I think that you could get a better application with the paint.

    Good post.

    • Eastern Funker said

      So far, spreading the paint around with the sponge after application is helping, it makes the whole lot an even layer of paint.
      Going back to full-strength paint helped too.
      I prresed the paint-loaded sponge against the model, released it for a couple of seconds, then lightly pressed again and using the very tip of the sponge, spread the paint around ‘inside’ the splotch to make it even. Has worked OK…so far…

  3. I’ve buggered up plenty of models too trying new things out, but at least you learn from the mistakes.

    Stick some lichen or tea-leaves on the truck to cover it up, you can claim it’s foliage added by the crew as ad-hoc cammo.



    • Eastern Funker said

      Definitely keeping the lichen-as-cammo-foliage option as my first option on this one!
      Got to try new things, though, they may be better…
      Thanks for the support.

  4. […] readers, I had another go, and managed to correct many of my earlier mistakes. How I did that is recorded in that preceding post’s Comments, to whit: “So far, spreading the paint around with the sponge after application is helping, […]

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