How to Paint Military Models

Updated February 21, 2017

Military modelling and dioramas are a major hobby for men, women and youngsters. When building military models it is important to have a realistic look with a good paint job. This process is time consuming but the end effect is a miniature of a real military vehicle that will be a conversation piece.

Prepare unpainted, unassembled model parts by removing excess plastic, wood or metal materials from the product pieces. You can choose to paint the first layer of colour before assembling the model.

Search for coloured photos and drawings of the particular type of model military vehicle, plane, ship or soldier that you have ready to paint. Try to find photos at different angles of the vehicle or ship.

Study the colours that were used for vehicles, parts, gear and uniforms. Check history books and model paint colours.

Set up a painting area with good lighting. If painting small parts, consider a magnifier.

Select small wide paint brushes to fill in the larger body parts. Use fine point brushes for small areas and detail work.

Paint the large portions of the model with a thin layer of background colour. Let dry thoroughly. If needed, add a second thin layer of paint. This prevents build-up and "lumpy" areas. This layer can be airbrushed if you have the equipment.

Look at photos, add in shadow, camouflage colouring and secondary colouring on the model. Let dry thoroughly.

Use tiny pieces cut from a sponge brush and brushes numbered 0 or 0/1 to fill in fine details on the model such as door casings, windows and emblems. Continue painting until you have the effect that works for this particular model.


Use tweezers to manipulate tiny sponge pieces when painting on small areas.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Small wide and liner paint brushes
  • Sponge brush
  • Magnifier (optional)
  • Clear photos of military vehicles
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About the Author

Suzie Faloon is a freelance writer who has written online content for various websites. As a professional crafter and floral designer, Faloon owned a florist business for nearly 25 years. She completed the Institute of Children's Literature course in 1988.