News for April 2011
Dust Tactics Modeling Masterclass - Session 3 3
Master modeler Jose Brito weathers and finishes his Axis walkers
Dust Tactics | Published 06 April 2011

Welcome back to the final session in our three part series following master modeler José Brito as he fully customizes two Axis combat walkers from the Dust Tactics core set! Visit parts one and two of this series to get started.

Dust Tactics is a tactical miniatures board game set in an alternate 1940’s reality in which a rare and mysterious alien power source fuels the construction of incredible World War II weaponry. Elite troops and massive combat robots wage violent battles as the Allied and Axis forces clash against each other.

The detailed walkers included in the core set and additional expansions arrive almost entirely assembled and pre-primed, waiting for you to personalize them and further immerse yourself into the game atmosphere. Including personalized walkers in your Dust Tactics game will add a sense of satisfaction to each engrossing battle.

In the last article, José primed his walkers and painted one walker a winter camouflage and the other a unique Fire Red. Today we’ll observe as he applies decals, weathers the walkers, takes them through the finishing process and texturizes the bases. The straightforward process will finish transforming your models into an admirable Dust Tactics collection.

Once the painting process is completed, the next step is applying decals, followed by weathering, the finishing process, and then texturizing the bases.

Step 1 - Applying decals

Before you begin the decal process, please make sure that the paint has dried completely on your models. If this is the case, you can plan and decide which decals you want to apply by perusing decals sheets available at

Once you have decided on your course of action, carefully cut the desired decals from your sheets by using the straight edge of a ruler and a precision knife. When cutting out your decals, it might be wise to leave an excess border around the chosen shape. By cutting too closely you risk marring the edge of the decal. The decals will separate from their white base once submerged in water and applied to your walkers, so you don’t have to worry about the excess border showing up in your work.

Per usual, I will apply my decals with the aid of a Vallejo brand product. In this case I am using Vallejo decal solutions, such as Decal Fix and Decal Medium. You can achieve the same results using most any decal solutions that are designated for plastic models. Prep the areas on which you wish to place your decals. I prepped my areas by airbrushing several thin coats of Vallejo Model Air Gloss Varnish with a standard airbrush. When this dries the surface becomes ideal for applying decals. Next, you will apply a coat of Vallejo Decal Fix to the area where you want your first decal to be placed.

Dip your first decal in water. I used a pair of tweezers and a small pan, with a shallow amount of water, for better control. When the decal has been fully soaked, grasp the edge of the border with your thumb and forefinger and carefully peel the decal off, using the tweezers.

Use the tweezers to transfer the decal to the desired area of your walker and lightly press it down and smooth it out. Be careful and precise with your placement; once the decal has been placed it will be difficult to remove without damaging the image. Remove any excess water with a brush or a cotton swab by lightly patting the decal. Let the decal dry completely.

If your decal is dry, brush a coat of Vallejo Decal Medium over it. Vallejo Decal Medium is a decal softener, which means that when it is applied it will appear that the decal is being destroyed. But don’t worry; when the Vallejo Decal Medium dries the decal will look fantastic and will blend seamlessly with the walker background.

Repeat this process as needed for the remaining decals you wish to apply to your walkers. Once you have completed all of the steps for your decal application and your walker has completely dried, airbrush a coat of Vallejo Model Air Matt Vanish over the entire model. Again, I used a standard airbrush for this process. This coat will protect the decals and the paint on your walkers when you begin the next stage.

Step 2 - Applying micro “scratches”

With the painting process finished, decals placed, and everything dried, you can begin the weathering and finishing process. Weathering begins with the application of thousands of micro “scratches.” The walkers will not actually be scratched but will appear so.

To successfully achieve this effect, I started by painting the scratches on the walker with a small sponge, a brand new very fine brush, paint, and a pair of tweezers. Begin by cutting up a larger sponge into a very tiny square, the size of a square pea. Grip the sponge square with the tweezers and lightly dip it into the paint color of your choice. The colors I used were all from the Vallejo Model Color range, and I used several different colors in order to achieve a more realistic look. You can achieve the same results using most any paints that are designated for plastic models.

Once the sponge has been dipped, brush the sponge against a piece of paper or a towel to remove all but a small amount of paint. You do not want to overload the walker with paint or the effect will be ruined. Take the gripped sponge and lightly tap it against the area of the walker you want to apply scratches to. For example, I began to lightly tap a sponge dipped in a brown paint color against the walker I chose to represent a vehicle that was rushed to the battle front without ever having time to paint it before it left the factory. Of course, you can choose whatever colors you prefer.

By tapping my sponge against the edges of the walker and certain other areas, I achieved the effect I wanted.

The scratches must be applied sparingly and logically; do not apply scratches all over your models. Applying scratches all over your models will ruin the effect; the weathering is supposed to have a natural appearance. As stated before, patience is one of your most important tools. Take as much time as you need to carefully apply the scratches to your satisfaction.

Let your paint dry in between applying different paint colors to your walker. I would also recommend using different sponge squares for different paint colors. Repeat the sponge process until you have achieved the color combinations and effect you want. I finished this process by using a brand new very fine brush to apply a different texture of scratches to the walkers. You can also finish the walker this way or use the brush intermittenently with the sponge.

When the paint has completely dried, apply a wash of MIG Productions oil colors, well thinned by adding MIG Productions Odourless Turpentine. Apply this combination to different areas of your walkers, once again choosing a logical pattern of application. By using several different colors you can achieve much more visual interest in your models.

Step 3 - Texturizing the walker base

As the walkers are already accompanied by bases, you need only to texturize them. I texturized my bases with a mixture of water, Robbialac Aquaplast, fine sand, Talens Gel Medium Glossy 094, and brown and black acrylic paint. Robbialac Aquaplast is a filler used in construction to fill small cracks: it is water-based and easy to work with. All of the materials should mix very well together.

Use a medium brush and spread the mixture over the bases until they are completely covered. For easier access to the bases, you can put your walkers on top of a small block. Let the mixture dry; when dry it looks like a very realistic piece of ground and is quite firm.

Once the mixture has completely dried, airbrush the bases and the bottom parts of the model with several coats of Vallejo Model Air 70510 Gloss Varnish. I used a standard airbrush for this step. The Gloss Varnish will add a wet appearance to the models and the bases, adding another layer of realism.

After this step had been completed, I decided that I wanted to further texturize my bases by adding snow to them. In order to texturize my bases in this manner, I used a mixture of Scenic Snow Flakes, Icy Sparkles, and Scenic Bond.

Apply this snow mixture by using a medium brush. Spread the snow over the base in a logical manner. For example, I wanted my bases to look as if the snow had been trampled by the walkers’ movements. I applied snow around the walkers’ feet and also applied a light dusting of snow to the walker feet themselves, giving the walkers the appearance that they had been traveling through previous snowbanks. To apply the snow mixture to the walkers’ feet, brush a light amount of the mixture to the areas you want snow to be on in a logical manner. Let the snow mixture dry.

Step 4 - Show off your walkers!

Congratulations! You have successfully finished personalizing your walkers! Now include them in your games, show them off, and feel proud of your work.


Thank you for reading and I hope you founds these articles beneficial. I have personalized several Dust Tactics walkers through this process, and I love it. With the fast growing catalogue of walker expansions, I plan on continuing this process. I’m excited to start as the upcoming walkers are lovely products with a host of potentials. There is no limit when you use your imagination!

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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Comments (3)

Published: 4/13/2011 8:12:14 PM

 I think the articles are good, especially the decal application part. I like the way the kits can be modded. I am not sure I would have done the same as Mr. Brito- but what he has done has opened the mind of a lot of people to modelling these kits in new ways. 

Published: 4/13/2011 2:40:09 AM

who is Master modeler José Brito ? what else has he done , because these models fall under the question of can vs should . they belong on a WH40ork table , not a WW2 alt history table .

Published: 4/5/2011 8:03:59 PM

The information on decal application was very helpful.  I will also use some of the ideas for the base.

Thanks for the info

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