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A Quick and Messy Method for Weathering Tanks and Armour

tutorial weathering

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  • 1,154 posts
  • Location:Canada
  • Faction: Sons of Horus 65th company

Well, I promised it a little while back and I figure 'why not'. Okay, that was on my Age of Darkness Thread.  "Go make a tutorial" they said, "it'll be [maybe] useful" they said.  Well I'm here to prove them wrong!  


... wait...


Anyhow, this is Vykes' blandly and messily weathers vehicles and power armoured troopers. 


As a bit of a preamble, there's probably a much easier way to do this, but I'm kinda stuck with this and I'm used to it, so it works fairly well.  Toy around and you'll find something that works for ya, too!  if this is of any use, rock on, glad to hear!  


Step 1: the Gathering Storm


There's not a lot to say here, the basics of this are pretty easy to get:


-some water soluable oil paints (IMPORTANT FOR ME AS I'M LAZY AND IT TAKES VERY LITTLE TIME TO DRY.... comparatively), Raw umber and Ochre are my favourites for Sons of Horus.  However, Ochre was more or less a Bob Ross style happy accident as it gives the green more of an olive tone and shows up on black pretty well.  On other coloured power armour you might want to substitute other colours, such as greys or even mixing a few of your own.  

-weathering powder pigments.  For this we went with terracotta earth (rusty red), a bit of european earth or slate (just something, I used a touch of both but it's minor), and carbon black (for exhaust)

-brushes, a wide flat brush is fantastic for vehicles but works great in general, and some thinner easier brush you don't mind having been ruined applying powdered pigments. 

-some sponge for most of your work, here. 

-tweezers to avoid getting your fingers as messy as mine

-water for, well, the "so-called-oil"

-pigment fixer/matte varnish just to make sure it mattes down and doesn't come loose and gum up everything. 



-a high pigment metal colour such as Chrome from the Vallejo Metallics line.  





Step 2: Subject Checklist


Alright, so you got your weathering stuff and you got your water.  Now you're missing something and... oh yeah, a model.  Well today we're working on a Vindicator laser destroyer that I clipped and totally gouged and vaguely mangled (snipped a few parts off I shouldn't have at 2 AM... blast).  But it'll work. And there's a power armoured mk. V vet sergeant that will be here just to show the whole method works for it, too. 


-Be sure that you have your decals/transfers sealed in!  Gloss varnish is good but as long as you have everything stuck down you're good to go. Aaaah my lovely minty green, I love that colour for tanks, plants, and quirky unicorns. 




Oh, and as a last bit of prep, that nice little bit of sponge you got?  Tear it into a weird bread-like chunk so you can get ready for the next step. Y'know, just like this!  ... why I felt I needed to take a picture, I don't know.  Ask '8 AM on a rainy freezing June day' me.





Step 3: Do the Dab


This one isn't hard, it's just making sure you get everything.  That raw umber water soluble oil paint?  Squeeze some of it out into a tiny little palette/plate/plastic/cardobard bit, and make sure you coat most of the sponge.  Then roll it around like you were trying to make a drybrush out of it, you don't want any goopy lumps and try a test dab.  You should get a nice little speckled pattern.


Cover the vehicle in your random splotched, cover everything! Just, you know, don't lather it on in dollops.  There's no huge technique here yet, but getting the edges and major surfaces is just kinda important (will tell why in a second or two). 




Extra pic is all:




-Then do it all over again with Ochre, which you can apply almost immediately!  Does it look kinda obscene and pretty horrible?  Oooooh yeah.  Get used to that. 




Extra Pic again:



Step 4: "Wipe!  Wipe!  WIPE!" AKA the Adrian Monk Effect


Alright, in this, it's kinda the quintessential 'it sounds like it's pointless but trust me'.  That little bit of 'importance' in getting it a little random?  Yeah, it's acting as surface impurities and imperfections on the hull. 


-dip a flat brush in water and then wipe most of the moisture off.  Then drag the brush over the oil covered hulk, dragging in one principle direction.  Top down, front to back.  Wet and repeat this process until you've covered the whole tank (if you need to cheat and get the cracks, just make sure to go back over it in the same direction as before).  This will create nice long irregular streaks and markings. 


Left half done, right half not!




Extra pic yet again!



And it works on power armour, too!  Same thing, left half done, right not.



You'll end up with something like this.  Oh, and as oil dries pretty slow (like, not insanely) but you can reactivate it with water and go over tide marks and anything you don't like.  I just decide I enjoy it a little. 




Step 5: Le Huile Deja vu!


Alright, so once again, take your raw umber paint sponge, 'cause you'll need it.  Do the same as before but make sure you only end up with a little speckling when you test rolling it.  Now comes a bit more of the fun stuff. 


-take the umber sponge and dab it against the edges, focusing on points where damage or wear looks most interesting and convincing.  We aren't replicating Tiger 007 in Normandy, it's visuals for me.  Go for the edges, and make sure to add a bit on larger plates to convey the sense of metal pitting and flecking.  Think of those pewter models and where they inevitably liked to drive you crazy for where they would fleck paint off.  Because this serves to show some corrosion, and as a basis for where you'll be laying down some of your chrome chipping after the fact). It's also perfectly fine in speckling an area and dragging the sponge just a touch to add some directional 'scuffs'. 


After you get done you'll see something like the below bit... just let it dry, even for 1 hour is usually enough with water soluable oils. 




Step 6: Take a Powder


Dry to the touch but still clammy and horrible feeling?  Good, that's oil for you.  It's a pain.  Now, powder, that's also a pain but for different reasons.  (NOTE: I know pigment fixers can help with adherence and such on this initial step, I'm just lazy and this works for me.  Meh).  


-Take your glorious clammy oily model and get your powders ready!  Start with your darker earthtones, the rusty finish in particular is big for me and I use it a lot.  Load up your brush, and powder it in with irregular spots.  Make sure to stipple it and work the pigment into the crevices and corners, letting it actually work into the model.  Take particular care to add these to recesses where dust and soot and grime would powder or water would form rust marks; so it's probably good to focus on deep sharp crevices including tracks and road wheels! 


-then, you can add slate or other earthtones overtop and 'smooth' out the harsh transitions. 


Your model is gonna still look gaudy, now it's just gonna look like someone dusted it with delicious delicious cinnamon. 




Extra picture once more



Final point of note, black exhaust powder.  Alright, I sometimes cheat a bit, I use black exhaust powder on the larger open vents for vehicles, but most of the time it's on the exhaust of infantry as it just settles nicer.  Use your grungy brush to work it liberally into the vents, exhaust, etc, and get ready 'cause you're almost done.  


Step 7: The End is Nigh!


varnish it.... seriously, that's it.  Spray varnish works the best, start mid-stream like a bad medical check and swipe it very lightly over your model.  It'll settle most of the powder it hits, then sweep it a few more times across and get into all the angles you need.  You can do another layer after this is dry, or just blast it again.  Inevitably it'll blow off excess lovely weathering powder so do it outside or with a mask, or something like usual with any sort of varnish that has parciles. 


It also serves to tone down the model and makes the vibrant weathering powder more subdued along with the oil.  I use a really simple Liquitex matte varnish through my airbrush and it comes out sorta satin, but the usual gold standard dulcoat is as good as ever.  








Step 8: You Gonna Go Far Kid! 

*Hums the rest of the nightcore version to himself. 


So you wanna go the extra mile, ya wanna be the champ?  Goin' for the gold Rocky!  


Okay so it's not that hard, for chipping just take a small brush and 'stipple' like you'd edge highlight just, y'know, you don't have to worry abou tit looking perfect.  Or even good.  Once again, remember those old pewter models and how they used to chip and you'll be good to go!  just drag it where you already sponged on some of the heavier edges with the umber and it brings out a little extra 'pop'. 






But hoOOoold on thar Baba Looey!  One might ask "What if we want to meld the new weathered model with a base?  Won't they look different?"  Or someone might ask that to someone else, most people mostly just ask me, "What are you doing loitering by the mall entrance?" 


But does the same technique work on bases? 




Yes, yes it does. 



...Till next time. 



  • Brother Chaplain Kage, Nostromo, Brother Lunkhead and 15 others like this


Son of Sacrifice

Son of Sacrifice


  • 476 posts
It seems like this section of the board doesn't get much foot traffic! Excellent tutorial, thanks for the effort.




  • 495 posts
  • Location:USA
  • Faction: Mantis Warriors
Didn’t even know water soluble oils were a thing! Cheers for turning me on to them, I have a few Knights that are ripe for some oil washing.

Marshal Vespasian

Marshal Vespasian


  • 1,439 posts
  • Location:Germany
  • Faction: Black Templars
It's great to know that water soluble oils will work for oil washes like this.
I Sam them and didnt buy them because everyone online was talking about Mineral Spirits.
Can I reactivate them with water the same way as you do with Mineral spirit for conventional oils


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