August 29, 2011

Tutorial: Salt Weathering

I have once again been experimenting with weathering and I have tried out the salt weathering technique. I wanted the chipping I was doing on my menite 'jacks to look a little more pronounced and this seemed to be the best way to do that. I coated the Talon first in a unidentified Vajello paint. I think it is something like bestial brown or beast brown. I can't read the label anymore so I have no idea what it is. Once I had a nice even coat of this I wanted to already make a rust effect so that when the weathering began I would have a nicely textured rust effect already done just waiting to be revealed. I made a turpentine based wash for this. Using turpentine for a wash is a massive departure from what I am used to but I have to say it is really good, at least for rust effects. Turpentine will strip paint from a model pretty easily so you have to be careful with what you are doing. I also didn't buy odourless turpentine... big mistake. Anyway the wash can be quickly spread all over the model. Don't brush over areas you have already coated as this will cause the paint to start to lift off. I then left mine to dry, it doesn't take too long. I didn't measure out the wash too perfectly and I was left with a thick residue underneath the liquid. However this meant I got a good uneven coating of the pigment something that adds very much to the natural look of the rust.

So the next thing to do is to place salt where you want the rust to show through. Now thats a lot easier said than done and it took some experimentation to get everything going the way I wanted it to. Basically you have to wet the area and then sprinkle the salt on. I found that this left a very thin coating of salt that the paint could soak through. I used rather fine salt and I have seen most other people use coarser grains. However I noticed that if I coated a larger area and then using my brush to apply a drop of water to this I could manipulate the salt nicely and gather it together into some thick and well shapped clumps. It took a lot longer for the salt to dry but it was worth it in the end I think. You have to be careful where you place the salt so that the weathering looks natural and I am really still learning this. Its easy to see tanks and how they get worn. There are awesome guides explaining how to use this technique. However nobody has, that I have seen, done this for Warjacks before. The technique has been used but never in a way I feel captures exactly what has been done on some of those beautiful scale tanks. I definitely won't manage it for a long time yet either! So with the salt dried, which I left overnight, I then sprayed the model as gently as possible with the basecoat. This is going to be a grey for my Mercenaries. I was worried that the pressure of the airbrush might knock off the salt but thankfully it didn't. I was able to coat the model easily without any problems. The extra water on the salt gave it a good strong bond to the model. It was pretty difficult to actually knock it off when I needed to! I also tried to paint the model a little with the salt left on. The spear I gave a rime of salt to and I painted the point of the spear in silver to see if it would soak under the salt or just be a pain in general to paint.

So here is what I have once the salt has been knocked off. I think the effect is interesting but not as of yet perfect. Having now done this I am left with a few problems. How can I justify such harsh rusted patches and yet still have untarnished or not as tarnished metal elsewhere. I have a few more tchniques that this 'jack is the test piece for but I have to collect a few more materials to try them all out. I can at least say that the salt weathering achieved exactly what I wanted it to. It isn't perfect and I know what I will do better for next time.


  1. Okay, what I would do (or rather what I intend to do with my rust-jacks coming up):

    use finer salt...the chipping looks a bit unrealistic. Try to search for rust pictures on cars, tanks and vehicles and think about where rust will most likely appear on a big robot. Most people also use hairspray to attach the salt unto the miniature, what also has another great impact: you can pick up some of the paint with a wet brush.

    Then I would think about using a zenithal highlight with the AB you own. just finish the model with some lighter grey airbrushed on in a step angle (say 45°). And how about aging the main color with some thinned oil colors, a technique used a lot by scalemodel painters.

    Some nice links:

    Cheers Karnstein

  2. Interesting. I think you can pull this off. I have also heard people use hairspray. Have not tried it yet myself.

    Uh-oh there is that confounded minature painter term: "zenithal highlight". What is with miniature painters and their terminologies.

    Personally I hate oil paints, if you are wargaming with these models, as I suspect you will be, I always recommend staying away from oils.

  3. Hmmm I will only use the oils as an experiment. They seem very good for this process. I would think that a good varnish would seal them sufficently?

    I will definitely be gaming with these! Thats the whole point... isn't it?


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