How to paint a model tank's metal tracks

Written by michelle schaefer
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How to paint a model tank's metal tracks
Learn how to paint model tank tracks. (tanks from defence image by Ivonne Wierink from

Painting the tracks of a model tank kit is an important part of detailing because it will help your model to be as realistic as possible. The variety of tanks available to the model builder provide fertile ground for showing off detailing skills. Even among similar tank production models there are sometimes drastic detailing differences that the hobbyist may find interesting to replicate. Properly painting the metal tank treads can seem like a daunting task at first, but with a few simple techniques it can be a fun and rewarding activity.

Things you need

  • Shallow pan
  • Washing up liquid
  • Toothbrush
  • Paper towels
  • 6 mm (1/4 inch) paint brush
  • Window cleaner solution
  • Model acrylic primer paint
  • Silver acrylic model paint
  • Empty paint bottle
  • Black acrylic model paint
  • Rust acrylic model paint

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  1. 1

    Fill a shallow pan halfway with water and add a few drops of washing up liquid. Clean all track parts with an old tooth brush to remove any grease or dirt. Rinse the parts in clean water and set them on a paper towel to air dry. Do not handle the cleaned parts with your bare hands. Use a paper towel instead to pick up any clean metal parts.

  2. 2

    Paint the tracks with model acrylic primer paint using a 6 mm (1/4 inch) paint brush. Thin the paint with window cleaner if necessary to help the paint flow into the small details of the tracks. Paint one side first and allow to dry, then turn the tracks over and paint the other side. Clean the brush in window cleaner and dry with a paper towel. Allow the primer to dry for 24 hours.

  3. 3

    Paint the tracks silver with model acrylic paint with a 6 mm (1/4 inch) paint brush. Ensure all sides of the tracks are covered with the silver and no grey shows through. Clean the brush thoroughly using window cleaner and dry with a paper towel.

  4. 4

    Mix model acrylic black with window cleaner in a 50/50 solution. To make a 50/50 solution, fill an empty paint bottle half way with black paint, then fill the rest of the bottle with window cleaner. Stir the solution to mix the paint and window cleaner together. Dip the 6 mm (1/4 inch) paint brush into the 50/50 solution and apply it to the tank tracks. The black paint solution will flow into the fine details of the tracks and create highlights. Wash the brush in window cleaner and allow the tracks to dry for 24 hours.

  5. 5

    Dip the paint brush into the rust model acrylic paint and wipe the bristles off with a paper towel. Swipe the brush back and forth on a clean paper towel a few times until the rust paint is nearly gone. Using the nearly dry brush gently paint the tracks using a very light touch. The idea is to "dry brush" a rust highlight onto the high points of the details of the tracks while leaving the rest of the track unpainted. Allow the tracks to dry and install on the model according to the manufacturer's instructions.

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