mblackwell's fast, cheap, and informal guide to weathering props

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Hello, 405th!

I've been meaning to do a little tutorial for a while now, and I just can't help but forget sometimes. :p Not very suprising honestly, but I promised it would be completed in due time! And so it will, and it will begin with a quick intro of two basic methods to weather your props. Mostly just pictures, but I've found that words sometimes help explain. Now, that's sometimes...sometimes you just have to grunt to make people understand, but words usually work better.

Anyway, I need to stay serious and give information. Cold, hard, slightly-melted facts.

Let us begin with the two specific methods, and continue from there:


Subtractive weathering is the process of removing layers of (usually paint) materials. Most times, prop builders will use a base coat of silver, apply a 'placeholder' to prevent the top coat from sticking in a certain spot, and then scratching off the 'placeholder', revealing a portion of the silver basecoat. You can also sand off the corners of the topcoat to reveal the basecoat, but applying a 'placeholder' is usually a bit easier. It also depends on the result you want, so both work.

Additive weathering, as you probably already know, is the process of adding material to a prop to weather it. This includes adding silver paint to corners, blackwashing, and more. This is usually the fastest method, but it can yield very nice results. Most builders use some silver paint, partially dry off the brush, and rub the edges of a prop with the dry paintbrush. You could also use steel wool for this, but it's just a matter of preference. Another form of additive weathering is just rolling a prop in the grass...not much of a method, but hey, it works and looks pretty good.

-//-Subtractive Weathering-//-
-Silver Spray Paint
-Your Choice of Color Spray Paint (this is what will be seen from the outside)
-Paper Plates
-Cheap Paintbrushes
-Wet Fabric Hand Towel (it will most likely be only used for painting after this)
-Dry Fabric Hand Towel (it will most likely be only used for painting after this)

-//-Additive Weathering-//-
Silver Paint (acrylic, enamel, whatever you like) in liquid form, not aerosol.
Black Acrylic Paint
Tan Acrylic Paint (optional)
Brown Acrylic Paint
Cheap Paintbrushes
Paper Plates
Paper Towels

NOTE- this tutorial does not specify paint types. It is your job to read your paint cans for directions. We will be layering paints in this tutorial, so be sure to test and see if your two chosen paints can be layered. But for now, let this chart help you out a little:
NOTE- For this tutorial, I used a junk armor part that was too small for me. That is the reason for the poor prop quality.



First, you want to grab your unpainted prop, and if it is a hardened prop, go ahead and give it a slight sanding to buff it and give the base coat better adhesion.
Afterwards, grab a wet rag and wipe off the dust created from sanding to assure good paint adhesion:
Now go ahead and spray on a light coat of your silver base coat (which will be revealed towards the end of painting)
Let it dry completely (12-24 hours of drying) and then spray a medium coat of silver.
Now comes the fun part. :) Grab your mustard and toothpaste, as well as a paper plate. squeeze both the mustard and toothpaste onto the plate. Grab a cheap paintbrush and dab it into the toothpaste. Yeah, toothpaste will be hard to spread, so get a good amount on your brush.
Spread a little bit (and I mean just a LITTLE) on the corners of your prop where you want weathering. Be very conservative, too much weathering is not good.
81625925-9270-4737-80EB-A7F418031AF2.JPG 073B9996-47E3-423B-809E-380E09C4C6EE.JPG C5DCA0D9-A90E-4E72-9155-D7189488E541.JPG
Now spray your topcoat of paint, and let it dry for 12 or so hours.
B78A4FF2-0D60-45A3-B537-6CE953BE0560.JPG EA858273-362A-46B5-AEF4-AE84CED78977.JPG A42C1F95-9450-452B-9ABB-9C46983AA8A7.JPG
Once it is dry, you can begin scratching off the toothpaste or mustard (depending on what you used) and rinse off the part.
scratching off 2.png scratching off.png
We're almost done, but before it's over, grab the scratchy side of a sponge and scrub the surface of the prop while in running hot water to remove the un-scratchable toothpaste areas while removing toothpaste residue. Later, you should have similar results to this:
washed 2.png washed.png
Viola! For more on completing your weathering, check out the additive weathering section below!


Additive weathering is by far the fastest method, but it still takes time to master. Additive weathering incudes outlining, blackwashing, mudwashing, rolling stuff in grass, and whatever else you want.

This process isn't to be followed completely, it is mostly relying on careful painting which is open to interpretation. It takes a while to learn how to make it look good, but once you figure it out, you'll be blasting through painting! Anyway, let's begin!

First, it's a good idea to do some dry brushing to further recreate weathered metal.
For dry-brushing, you will need to get some silver paint on your brush, wipe almost all of it off, and then carefully wipe the side of the brush across an edge that will be weathered.
Drybrushing.png drybrushing 2.png
You can also do little brush dabs here and there to weather it some more:
drybrushing 3.png
Now this next part is pretty optional, but if you want to make your weathering stand out a little bit more, you can grab a toothpick, dip it in black or grey paint, and carefully outline the scratches. As you can see, it makes the weathering more visible.
outlining.pngoutlining 2.pngoutlining 3.png
Mix up some black paint with quite a bit of water, and if you would like, throw in a small portion of grey. Make sure the mixture is very thin. About a 1 - 3 paint to water ratio.
Now grab a paintbrush and spread the mixture over the surface of the prop. I like to do both a brown and black wash to add some shading.
black wash.png black wash 3.png black wash 2.png brown wash 2.png
Wipe all of it off with a dry paper towel, but try to leave some of the mixture inside of the crevaces of the prop.
brown wash wiped 2.png brown wash wiped.png
If you find there is too much of the mixture on the prop, just wipe it off with a wet rag or sponge.
black wash wiped.png
If you want a touch of "real" weathering, roll your prop out in some grass for a little bit. The best weathering is real weathering.:p

Well, there we go! A quick, cheap, and informal weathering guide finally complete! Enjoy, and happy prop making! Feel free to post your own creations that this tutorial might have helped with! I'll catch you all later!

-mblackwell signing off-

brown wash.png
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Lol, I thought the toothpick with the paint on the tip of it was actually a match stick. But that was before reading the text. Anyways, I don't think that there is anything you've forgotten to cover. Well done blackwell! Also, another alternative aside from using mustard, and toothpaste would be art masking fluid. Look at post below this one for a pic.

It just dries and rolls off after the paint is dry, exposing the silver underneath the top coat.. Also let the latex dry before you add your top coat/last layer of paint. Can also be used to mask of certain areas that you don't want touched by other paint colors.
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Very informative- I've been putting off weathering my suit because of my uncertainty of how to do additive weathering, and this really helps alot. Thanks, man.
Great job Blackwell. Very thorough and great techniques. I would recommend vaseline though. Not that I've used mustard or toothpaste, but I've heard they can be hard to remove. With the vaseline I painted the second coat, let sit in sun for 30 minutes and then wiped the vaseline off with tissues and was able to start painting my detail immediately.

I've also really struggled with black washing. Either, I let it sit for a minute too long and it dries so I can't wipe it off with water. Or the wash is too runny and when I go to wipe it it all comes off. I'll try your tips out the next time to see if I can get better.

Thanks for posting!
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