Getting Salty About Weathering
Hey there True Believers, today we’re going to talk about how to create your own convincing weathered metallics using a really simple technique. This whole project is done using Warcolours and an airbrush, but you can use these techniques just as effectively with any acrylic craft paints and a brush.
First off, we’re going to need the the prepped model surface we’re going to be working on, in my case, it’s a spaceship corridor that I sculpted for a diorama out of cardstock and some other stuff. In your case, this can be for old pipes, rusted out cars, Land Raiders, junked planes, really, anywhere where enameled metals have been left to the elements.
We begin by priming it black, in the standard fashion. Ensuring even coverage and allowing it to dry for several hours, prior to applying the next layers. Once we’ve got that established, we begin to build up the basis for our rust layers. We’re going to start with a neutral, high saturation brown, and warm it up with each step into a terracotta.
Below you can see the browns applied with an airbrush, Make an attempt to focus the warming in specific spots, but avoid allowing the redder browns to achieve 100% opacity. We’re developing “filter” layers at this stage, and will be altering the texture in the next steps.
You can see how I’ve focused the filter towards the bottom of the wall. This will be the area with the heaviest weathering, representing where it has interacted most with moisture and wear and tear. If you were doing this on a Land Raider (for instance) this focal area might be around the treads, instead. It’s important to have an idea of which areas will be most heavily influenced by the rusting out, and begin to develop them.
Next up, we’re going to be moving up into proper oranges. In my case, Warcolours Orange 4 and One Coat Orange. Were going to be applying these differently than we did the brown, as we’re going to use these to develop an erratic, rusting texture on top of the browns. We’ll need a bit of blister foam or sponge for this next step. The idea is to daub a bit on a sponge, and then stipple a paper towel or piece of carboard until you get a nice erratic pattern. It’s similar to the amount of paint you’d want on your brush, if you were drybrushing.
Above, you can see the texture developed, post stippling. Note the areas where I’ve concentrated it, that will become important shortly. When you’re satisfied with this, it’s time to seal the project using the matte varnish of your choice. In this instance, I’m using Warcolours matte varnish.
Apply a couple of coats of varnish, and allow to dry 100% before moving on from this step. You need the layers under this to be well protected, as we’re going to be applying salt and scrubbing the model after this. If you’ve not thoroughly sealed this layer, you will work your way down to the primer/plastic, ruining the effect and all the work you’ve done so far. Learn this lesson from me, as opposed to the hard way… Trust me.
Next up, the real meat and potatoes of this technique, coarse salt and hairspray.
We’re going to be using the hairspray as a temporary glue, to hold the salt crystals in place. To that end, decant a little into a dixie cup by turning the hairspray upside down and spraying it into the container. This will smell like the 80’s, so it’s best to do it in a well ventilated area. After you’ve got enough liquid hairspray in the cup for your needs, take an old brush and start to apply it to the model, sprinkling the coarse salt over the top, and knocking away any excess. Focus these sticky salt piles on top of the regions of heaviest wear, where you developed the texture with the oranges.
When you’ve developed enough sticky salt piles to satisfy, allow it to dry and then apply the paint/wall/enamel color. In my case, I’ll be using a mixture of Warcolours One Coat Yellow Green with a little One Coat Green mixed in.
Now it’s magic time!
Dip an old toothbrush in hot water, and allow it to saturated the salt crystals. When they begin to loosen, scrub them away. You’ll immediately begin to see the rust pattern develop. In addition to the salt texture, you can scratch or rub any amount of weathering into the paint. Since the lower layers are well sealed, and this layer is sitting on top of a water soluable hairspray base, it is very easy to manipulate. You want to make sure that you’ve removed all the salt from the peice, even going so far as to rinse it in cold water. Any residue left over will dry a chalky white and damage the paint over time.
After that, it’s a simple issue of sealing it with another layer of Matte Varnish. And you’re ready to move onto the rest of your project. This method is not only simple, but provides a higher degree of verisimilitude than painting the rust effect over the green. Not only is it actually beneath the paint (like rust would be), but it ends up with a randomness that is near impossible to replicate with the brush, and is far closer to the actual effect for it.
That’s it for today, true believers. I hope you find this useful. Keep your bristles damp!