ZSU-57 painted wheels

How to: paint and weather tank wheels

This is also the first post from the ‘How to…’ series. In this column I will present short SBS’s that were parts of my main projects. And sometimes it’s going to be totally fresh stuff. Enjoy!

Today I’ll show you how to simply and effectively paint the rubber on tank wheels.

This tutorial is just a part of my long ZSU-57-2 project. You can find the full SBS it here:

Step 1:

Base-paint your wheels  with colours suitable for your project. It’s often a good idea to use slightly different shades for some wheels. This will bring some chromatic variety to your model.

Paint the rubber bands matt black.

Painted wheels, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

Step 2:

Prepare a light grey oil paint. My choice is Talens van Gogh palette. In this case I simply mix white with a little bit of black.

Dilute the paint with white spirit. The ratio is pretty important here. You need a medium opacity paint – a bit transparent but not runny! Use the photo below as reference.

Cover the rims with a thin layer of grey.

Weathering the rubber on wheel, ZSU-57 by TAKOM

Step 3:

Wait till the paint is dry to the touch. It should take from 15 minutes to 1 hour depending on the temperature in your room. Use a hair-dryer to speed up the process.

Dip a q-tip in white spirit, then drain in on a piece of tissue. You don’t want the thinner to go all over the place.

Begin to wipe off the paint concentrating on the centre of the rubber rim. Don’t drag the q-tip around. It’s better to work with quick vertical tapping movements.

And don’t overdo this. The paint is still fresh. Two quick passes will do.


Weathering wheel with oils

Step 4:

Grab a piece of a sponge and form a little ball. Dip the sponge in matt black paint and drain it on a tissue.

The thicker the paint, the better. The brand doesn’t matter as long as it isn’t a diluted airbrush-ready paint. I use Vallejo Model Colour for this.

Sponge the wheel, again concentrating on the centre. Adjust the intensity of the effect to your taste. It’s usually best to randomize it.


Sponge technique on wheels

Step 5:

If your wheel has a tread or any convex structure, drybrush it with matt black.

Dry-brushing wheel

Step 6:

And this is it, easy! Glue the wheels to your model, get some mud on them and you’re all set.

ZSU-57 painted wheels


  • coconut oil this

    16 November 2019 at 11:24

    Today, I went to the beachfront with my kids. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old
    daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed the shell to her ear
    and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.

    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is completely off
    topic but I had to tell someone!

    • ScaleDracula

      16 November 2019 at 23:51

      Dude, I’m not sure if this is spam or you’re for real and high on something. But your comment made me laugh so I approved it. But please, hook me up with your dealer. 🙂

  • Mike

    25 October 2021 at 14:45

    What did you use on the shish-kabob stick to hold the wheel in place so you could paint it in sub-assembly form? Did you just roll masking-tape around the end till it was sufficient enough when placed in the model wheel it would have a tight fit or something completely different?

    • ScaleDracula

      1 November 2021 at 00:19

      Either this or I would use some bluetac at the end of the stick. But the method with the
      masking tape is more reliable I think.


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