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  • Weathering Powders


    I often see questions regarding the use of weathering powders, since I use them a fair amount in my vehicles I thought I would write an article describing some uses. These powders are a really useful way to add weathering effects and textures to a model and are quite versatile for creating dust, rust, mud, soot and dirt finished amongst many others.

    Really they're a few things to know before we start since which will help you going forward. Weathering powders are simply an acrylic powder similar to the base constituents of the paints we all use. Since it's in powder form it's extremely concentrated so above all remember a little goes a long way. For these articles I'm using the Forge world powders, but any will do as they all work in the same way.

    Many of the effects I apply require the powder to be fixed in place. For this I tried 3 options and found that acrylic thinners (normally used to thin paint for use in an airbrush) worked best rather than the other 2 shown.

    If you want to really protect a model I would use thinned down matt varnish (something like the Daler Rowney Matt Varnish which is fantastic) through an airbrush. To begin with I shall be describing 5 methods

    • Rusty exhaust pipe (which we add powders directly to wet paint)
    • Rusty Panel (which we add powder to a panel and add thinners)
    • Dusty Mechanism (which we add thinners to some mechanical parts and then powders)
    • Mud (mix of powders and PVA glue)
    • Metallic parts (with the use of graphite powder).

    I hope this gives you the help and direction you need to start experimenting. This isn't an exhaustive list so if there's a method I've not listed I would be happy to learn from you. You'll have to excuse the dodgy painting of the dread in the coming articles, i found it at a car boot sale already painted and didn't know what to do with it until now!


    Rusty Exhaust Pipe

    For this method I shall be using weathering powders to create a rusty exhaust. This is done my applying the powders directly to wet paint which act as a base colour and a binder to make the powder stick in place.

    The first step is to base coat the exhaust with a 1:1 mixture of black and dark brown.

    Once the base is dry then add another quite wet layer of the paint mix to the exhaust. Whilst the paint is still wet using a dry brush push a small amount of aged rust powder into the paint in a dabbing motion. This will give a nice texture.

    The while that mix is still slightly damp push some of the light rust powder into the recesses which makes helps to make the look slightly newer.

    To add some soot I use tamiya weathering master which is as easy as applying directly to the exhaust with the sponge applicator.

    To give the final result -

    Rusty Panel

    In this method I shall be creating a rusty panel by adding powders to the panel first and then fixing and moving the powder around a little with the thinners. This same method can be used to create a muddy and dirty look by using earth colours rather than rusty colours.

    The first step is to sprinkle a little aged rust onto the panel. Try to get some larger spots, some smaller and a thin dust as well.

    Using a clean larger brush very gently dab some thinners onto the panel. As you press the brush against the panel the thinners should spread out and wick away from the brush covering the panel and powders. You'll notice the powder disappear (don't worry or apply more powder - it will show up once the tinners have dried off).

    To create a rust spot put a small blob of powder into one place (just above the skull on the right)

    Using a thinners soaked brush dampen the spot and carefully drag the powder downwards to create a streak.

    Buy using the aged rust first and then light rust a slightly interesting rust spot can be made (lower panel).

    With the final result -

    Dusty Mechanism

    In this method we create a dusty mechanism by applying the thinners directly to the model and then adding an earth coloured powder.

    The first step is to add thinners directly to the model using a clean brush.

    Then using a clean dry brush very gently tap some of the light earth or dark sand (for this I used a little of both) powder onto the wet area. Blow off any excess. It looks a little crazy at this stage, I probably forgot how far these powders go!

    Using a dry dry brush (the type with short sturdy bristles) brush off the excess powder to leave the metallic mechanism from showing through the dust.

    Using a little less powder than I did would give a more subtle effect!


    We get muddy in this method! To create mud we move away from thinners and into PVA glue.

    On a pallet put some dark sand, light earth and PVA glue in about equal measures.

    Mix it up to make a dryish mixture. For this example I mixed it all together but you could easily use just one colour and the PVA. Actually doing this in a couple of steps with individual colours looks pretty cool as the finished look is that of old dusty mud and newer dried mud. If you want wet mud mix gloss varnish into the mixture.

    Using an old brush blob it onto the model in a random kind of way.

    Once dry the powder looks like mud (this method is nice and easy)

    With the finished look -

    Metallic parts

    This is a really simple way to make parts look extremely metal like. Care must be taken as this powder gets everywhere and remember less is more! This method uses the Forge world dark iron powder but using graphite from a pencil works just as good (actually the forge world powder is graphite).

    Dip your little pinky into the pot of dark iron and rub with your thumb to get a smooth covering.

    Very sparingly rub your pinky over the high spots where constant use would have polished the metal rather than making it rusty. Remember to go carefully! In the picture below you can see the effect on the rivets and maybe around the edge of the panel.

    I've used the same method on the dusty panel to tone it down a little.

    I hope you find this article useful and I'm happy to add more methods as I find them.
    John aka Megazord_man

    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Vern's Avatar
      Vern -
      Ta, very useful
    1. Ulfgrimr's Avatar
      Ulfgrimr -
      Really useful article, many thanks.
    1. Sparks's Avatar
      Sparks -
      Big help! One day I will do a vehicle to its full weathered potential. I have all the kit except for thinners after all! Is thinners necessary by the way?