Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Next level Weathering: Multi layered Tutorial.

As a VFX texture artist by trade I've always had a fascination with decay. Especially the way painted metals are damaged and corrode. Today I'll be going through the first few stages of destroying this beautiful Valkyrie!
 I would say this is about 50% towards what im going for. Ill be experimenting and blogging the progress for this. As I'm hoping for it to be the centre piece for a diorama! Possibly a garbage truck of the 41st millennium crashed into the desert to rust and decay! Fun times.

Stage 1) 
Reference! Reference! Reference! 

Cannot state how important this is. Wasn't it Caravaggio who said "If you want a thing to look like a thing look at the thing." Google images immediately gave me this when I typed in "rusty painted metal"
Bam! Exactly what I wanted. Multiple layers of paint in decay. And a little research into whats going on always helps too. When you see most industrial machinery with scratches on it usually shows up a different paint colour benith. "Well thats just where it was painted before?" NOPE! they paint them in two layers so if it becomes damaged its easily noticeable! Genius. Thats why most secondary colours are red or contrasting to the original.

Stage 2) 

Super simple. Paint your metal as metal. But throw in some interesting colours, reds, purples, and yellows go a long way towards giving a sense of realism to metals. Also with stuff like aeroplanes and tanks they are usually made from a huge variety of metals, Chrome, lead, tin, aluminium, brass. Have fun and don't spend too much time on this stage. Just go mental on it.

Stage 3)
Seal. Hairspray. Repeat.

You want the metal to be the very last layer that's seen when we get to the really fun part, so prepare it. Make sure its perfectly dry and blast it with a layer of GW purity seal. Wait for that to dry and give it a layer of hairspray. Don't skimp on the hairspray. The more expensive ones will dry quicker and wont leave a residue, which is exactly what we are after. I use L'Oreal (Because I'm worth it.)

(*Edit: The reason for using hairspray between the layers is to allow the paint to flake. Because it is a compound designed to dissolve in contact with water, by brushing water along it, it separates the paint  neatly! It's an old technique but I haven't seen it done with multiple layers before, this will only work if you let the hairspray dry completely. I cant stress this enough!)

Stage 4) 

GW spray gun or airbrush, doesn't really matter which but a brush just wont work on this. (Maybe the primer cans might but I've never tried before. Might be too thick.) 

The idea is to lay down a thin layer of paint to sit above the dry hairspray.
Layer 1 will be our damage paint. I've chosen a turquoise to contrast nicely against the yellow of the top coat and red of the rust.

Once the blue is completely dry, spray on another layer of hairspray. Don't worry if you can already see the paint cracking, that's just the settling process. until it gets wet it wont come off. Then gently do your final layer. Again, airbrush or spraygun. Just try not to blast it off.

Leave to dry.

Stage 5)
Burn your butterflys.

This is my favourite part of the whole process. You've spent time on the base now you can see the fruits of your labour. Get an old toothbrush, wire wool, tissue, toothpick or whatever else you can use to scratch and destroy with. Dip the tool in a little water, (not too much) and gently scrape it over the surface in the direction you want to weather.

Hell yeah. That looks like what happens when something is damaged and the flakes come off! That's because we are damaging something in pretty much exactly how it would be damaged in the real life! With giant toothbrushes.

Now go too far and experiment. very worst case scenario is you scrape off all the paint and start again from stage 3! You can see which parts have been done with a little care and which parts have gone a little wrong. The nose I went mental on and I've ended up actually mixing the blue and yellow pigment, making a little green mess. the wings and tail fins however, I'm very happy with.

Stage 6)
Rust, dust, and soot.

This is a fun step too.

I use a combination of actual rust.
 (A tutorial of how to do this can be found here http://massivevoodoo.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/tutorial-how-to-create-real-rust.html)

Oil paint.
Modelmates rust effect.
Forgeworld weathering powders.
And various GW washes and inks.

You cant go wrong. You spill a shedload of black on it? Well slap some gloss over the top and It's tar or old crude oil. Do a streak of bright red? Well it turns out that rust does that too. It'll look good as long as you have a plan and prepare your base.

 Finally pick out some edges with a brighter metallic colour, or not. 

Hope this helps!


  1. What's the main purpose of the hairspray? Is it to provide a texture layer? Is it an additional sealant to the purity seal?

    This looks like it's really fun to do. Can't wait to try some of these out on my ork flyers. Thanks for sharing your techniques!

    1. Dude! I completely forgot to write that in! Sorry man!
      I've edited it into "stage 3" have a flick back through the article. Sorry buddy! Make sure you post a comment when you have finished with the bombers! would love to see how it goes!

    2. Will do! Thanks for the reply! Makes perfect sense now!

  2. This is epic. I am grabbing a knight titan this weekend and am terrified about painting it.. this should be darn helpful in making it look like it has been knocking about a bit and not straight from the manufactorum floor.

  3. Hey, thanks for the tutorial. I have one concern about the hairspray technique - doesn't it make a final model somewhat susceptible to further accidental damage? Even varnished model is probably absorbing some moisture from the air, not to mention some unexpected twists of fate.

    1. I would say if you are wanting to game a lot with the model to put a layer of purity seal over the top of the finished chipped paint before you start the rust. i havent had any paint come off unexpectidly. but then again maybe it would look even cooler if it did!

  4. Fabulous tutorial! Thanks Henry!!

  5. Fantastic weathering tutorial! The use of hairspray in combination with several layers of paint is brilliant. It looks like a lot of fun too; I really need to acquire an airbrush in the near future. I am excited to see where you take the weathering on that poor valkyrie.

    Having enjoyed your blog for a while now, I would like to nominate your blog for the Liebster Award! Hopefully it will help bring new readers to your blog. You can find more details about the award here: http://betweenthebolterandme.blogspot.com/2014/04/liebster-award_29.html

    I know going through all of the steps for this award are a little tedious, so I understand if you choose not to do so!

  6. Wow, this looks seriously amazing. I'm a big fan of gritty/grimey painting, and this is just the ticket. I don't currently get to paint lots of vehicles, but once I do, I sure will take some inspiration from here.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it dude! and the beauty with this technique is that it makes just about anything interesting. i practice on spare chuncks of scenary or old models. next set of experiments will be mixing sand into the first layer for that thick lead paint look :D