THE WORKSHOP – DIY Square Mule by Paul Benson

Paul Benson stopped by to show off his custom Desert Mule Square. Much of the gear shown was hand made and painted by Paul. He took some time out of his day to give an overview of his process of putting all the bits together to create a truly cohesive look.


– Knives

The Square Mule

pic x Paul Benson

One of my favourite ThreeA figures is the Desert Grunt. I thought he could do with a ‘mule’ to carry his equipment and what better than the MK2 Square! With this “tutorial” I’ill go through each equipment item and try to explain how I painted it and if I made it, how I did so.  Some of the equipment might seem random, but I hope it looks like the kind of gear a Grunt would find useful when scouting or on maneuvers.

The main paints I used are shown below.

pic x Paul Benson

 The aerosol sprays are used to provide a base colour onto which other painting including paint chips and weathering is added with Games Workshop acrylic paints.  Games Workshop paints are very good and are easy to get hold of, either at a local store or online. They come in a range of both basic and very useful blended colours. The names of the paints, I might as well use them, are referred to below. Bits of sponge and old paint brushes were mainly what I used to do this piece. I use MIG weathering powders to apply further weathering, such as rust staining and accumulated dust and sand on equipment. Yes, those are cotton buds laying there. They are ideal for rubbing on the weathering powders.

pic x Paul Benson

1.  The webbing net was made from 10mm and 5mm Grosgrain and 1/6 side releases.  I used a green plastic cutting board with a square grid for spacing the webbing out accurately.  I sellotaped it down and then gluing with super glue as it went together.  The webbing was painted with desert sand acrylic paint.  To dirty-it up I used a wash of scorched brown and hint of chaos black.  I then drybrushed (a technique of wetting a brush with paint and then almost drying it and then wiping it across the area you are working on) with desert sand mixed with a little skull white.  Then finally to bring out the texture of the webbing weave, I lightly drybrushed with white again.  The pouches are swiped from my Desert grunt.  They were just drybrushed slightly with a desert sand/white mix to help them blend a little better.
pic x Paul Benson
2. No idea where the camo netting came from, I have had it for years. It seemed ideal for the task and already had a camo pattern, which I think of as the American chocolate chip. The netting was folded over to the correct length and then rolled and then tied with bits of thread. The strap was made from Grosgrain again. The net is plastic and has a slight sheen to it, so I sprayed it with matt varnish to kill it.  It was then dirtied up with a wash of scorched brown/black mix.  To finish, I lightly drybrushed with a desert sand/white mix. The strap was treated in the same way as the webbing net.
3. I needed a couple of bits of equipment that would appear to have some weight and when put into the webbing net pockets would pull the webbing net across and down over the MK2 square to give it a realistic lay and hang. I set about finding something made of metal. This bit of equipment is possibly an empty water or fuel tank. It actually an old a car touch up paint container I found in the garage. It even still contains some dried up old paint!  I cut off the end with the screw thread on.  To break up the length I thought a black band would be good idea.  So the container was sprayed with matt black first.  A thin strip of masking tape was applied and then sprayed again with desert yellow.  Using bits of sponge, paint chips were applied with grey made from chaos black and skull white.   Some of these would be left to represent chips through to the undercoat and then using boltgun metal and a brush some of the grey chips are gone over to represent chips through to the base metal.  Edges were drybrushed with boltgun metal.  Bits of rust here and there was painted in with dark flesh. Old and new rust staining was applied with a cotton bud in various places using the two rust weathering powders.

pic x Paul Benson

4. and 5. To add weight to the other side of the webbing net I used a little brass collar. Sprayed it black and then drybrushed it with boltgun metal, as I did with item 5 which is a spare metal fastening from a piece of Ikea furniture.
6.  Not sure a Grunt would have a laptop but closed, it looks like it could be a bit of general equipment!  It was already painted matt back, so I just dirtied it up with Gulf War Sand weathering powder.  I did this using a large brush and just applied it all over, rubbing it in, not that evenly, as I went along.  It stays in the depressions as dust and sand would.
7.  The air filter is from a WWII 1/6 gas mask.  Painted in the same way as item 3.
8. and 9.  I made this ‘grunt-portable antirobot weapon’ [(GRAW) which is a play on typical army descriptions used to describe anti tank weapons e.g. the bazooka etc.] some while ago. I will not go through how I made it in detail here.  It may be appropriate to do so in another article.  Essentially it is a WWII bazooka tweaked with styrene strips including tubing and other cross sections.  Again, it is painted in the same way as item 3.
10, 11 and 14. These are bits from 1/6 small arms, possibly a M4 which I had stripped down to make some 3A themed small arms. Items 10 and 11 are just sprayed black and then drybrushed with boltgun metal.  They are then dirtied up in the same way as item 6. Item is painted in the same way as item 3 again.
12.  The shovel is painted in the same way as item 3 again, although more weathering is applied to give the idea of heavy wear and tear.
13.  Ammunition magazines painted in the same way as items 10 and 11.

pic x Paul Benson

15.  The map is made using the magic of a Google search and Photoshop.  It is an old map of a desert area. I simply printed it out and cut it to size. I gave it a bit of ‘usage’ by wadding it into a small ball and then flattening it back out. Then I gave it realistic tight map folds. After that desert sand weathering powder was rubbed onto the map, both sides, with a brush.
16.  The tool case was a clear plastic box for screws.  It was painted in the same way as item 3.  To personalise it, I painted a skull and initials by hand.
17.  The rope is a 1/6 scale WWII climbing rope that came with a different figure.  Tied off with thread it was then light drybrushed with a desert sand/ white mix.

pic x Paul Benson

We hope you enjoyed the latest Workshop. Thanks to Paul for once again putting this together for us. Now get out there and customize something!
 We’d love to hear from you and check out what kind of customs you’re working on! Send us a shot of your latest custom work with a brief discription to 

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Until next time!

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