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Let's learn ... Weathering


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Hello everyone,


And welcome to my weathering class.




No. Not WEATHER - WEATHERING. So more like this:




After having worked on some vehicles for quite some time and having recently finished some tanks in winter camouflage (check out ->here<-, ->here<- and ->here<-), I was asked to do a tutorial and explain some weathering techniques.


That said, I have to be honest and want to make clear that I LOVE to overdo it, so that things pop out on the table. If that's too much for you, you need to adjust on your vehicles and stuff accordingly.


As it is hard to give an overview over the topic of weathering and find THE solution to all the different approaches of aging a vehicle, house or other mechanical thing, I will use different vehicles and techniques and explain everything in order for every vehicle I work on - so maybe a technique that suits you won't be done in the first tutorial, but in a later work. So please be patient.


First off: If you want to see some people doing great stuff with different models and weathering techniques, check out these channels on Youtube:


->Plasmo - Plastic Models<- ->Andy's Hobby Headquarters<- ->Doctor Fausts Painting Clinic<- ->Laser Creation World<-


They may answer some questions you have and provide in-depth sight into the process of weathering a vehicle or building (which means: this tutorial is basically meaningless - haha)


Anyway: Let's get started!



Table of Contents:


What's Weathering?

Going the first mile (How to plan and to start) (Under construction)

Edited by SisterMaryNapalm
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What's Weathering?



Weathering is basically the way of making new things look used. That's it in a nutshell.


Everything that is, is designed to end and the ravages of time do not only affect us as people but also the things being around us. Houses, cars, ships, airplanes and all the other stuff we live with is consistently exposed to the forces of nature. Rain, wind, sand, mud, our sun and even human-made effects like smoke or wrongly held keys can alter the surface or substance of a certain thing - which doesn't make it look better, to be honest.


Let's take exposure to water as an example:


Hally Berry:


image.thumb.png.f546b6c22db532a4492b4f5a2e2f37e9.png  + image.png.c80ce86550ffa16b0971e6f2dee5d146.png = image.thumb.png.ce697261fd547ebce3ca6599f4b3edc4.png


T 34:


image.thumb.png.628722dde9224919dd9d735c97a4e3c6.png + image.png.c80ce86550ffa16b0971e6f2dee5d146.png = image.png.f2d20e72d78362bb0b51eca0422fc18a.png


I KNOW what you're thinking: "WAIT A MOMENT! That's two different types of T 34!" But that's not the point.


The point here is: A thing gets old. Over a normal circle of life, the things around us get damaged, scratched, are repaired, more or less kept in shape, but finally they are worn out, old and look used and creepy. Just like ... Sylvester Stallone. Other things, like Hally Berry, mature. There's a difference and I just wanted to get that off my chest before anyone goes like: "Did you just say Halley Berry is old?"


Apart from that, there's nothing more to say about the basics.


The question now is: how do we translate this into a miniature scale?



Weathering in miniature scales



The wonderful thing about miniatures is, that there's an unbelievably high number of scales, settings and approaches on how to make a miniature look the way it should look in the end.


So, basically, there's no real way of doing it "wrong" or "right". It's more a question of what you want to achieve. Certainly, following a given path is way easier and leads to a better result, but the question if you want to do just a few simple colors and basic weathering effects or scale your level of detail to infinity and back again, is up to you.


In the end, its just important to know what you have at hand and how you use it and you're good to go.



Materials and Colors




Where do I start?


The list of possible colors, washes, pigments and tools is huge, so let's just get over the basics. All the stuff will be talked about in-depth later on.



Acrylic colors


We all use them. Easy to work with, easy to thin and to apply via airbrush and brush, and quite tasty when being licked: acrylic colors are the painter's basics. On vehicles, they normally are used as base coats and main colors, providing a good foundation for other layers. Due to their nature, it's always advisable to use them first. There are people who even create their whole models including washes from acrylic colors.


Enamel colors


Instead of acrylic colors, some miniature builders use Enamel colors, which are more lacquer colors and have to be thinned using terpentine oil or some gasoline style thinners. Their coverage is pretty good, but they stink, have to be disposed as special waste and when you lick them, you feel bad afterwards. But they work pretty good as washes.


Oil Colors


Oil colors are the third range of colors you can use. Due to their nature, they are often used as on-top effects, like bleaching surface and so on. They don't dry fast, so you can use them for quite a while and create great effects - but you also have to wait once you applied them. And they don't taste as good as acrylics.




Washes are often considered cheating when it comes to painting a figure. Most miniature painters refrain from using a wash, because they rather love to build up layers, which provides them with more control on how they create transitions. On a vehicle though, that's different. Washes create weather effects or used looks you cannot recreate using a brush.They provide depth or darken areas, allowing the model to gain some depth and some basic effects. They can even provide your work with textures. Due to their nature, most modelers use enamel washes.




Pigments are the final touch to a model. They are basically dried-up color which you can use to enhance certain effects like rust, snow or sand. They provide some structure to your work which a normal color cannot create.


Tools and Materials


Tools and materials are all those things you need to apply colors, washes, pigments and so on onto your vehicle, house, ship or get it off your work. Apart from brushes, thinners and paper towels that might be Q-sticks, chipping medium, chipping rubber or sponges.

Sand, powder, little accessories like small leaves and pastes can improve the look of your work further.



Basically, that's what it is about. I could talk about techniques in-depth now, but that doesn't make any sense, because I am lacking the reference at the moment. From my point of view, explaining the steps in detail makes more sense while working on an actual product. So - without further ado, let's go over to our first vehicle, shall we?

Edited by SisterMaryNapalm
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1 hour ago, BLZeebub said:

Gotta say I appreciate your images of the lovely Hally Be--Why is she wearing a knife with her bikini?!  Then again, why not?


In case she encounters a sea turtle that is stuck in fishing line, duh. Gotta have a knife when you go swimming to save the turtles.

Edited by Cyradis
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6 hours ago, BLZeebub said:

Gotta say I appreciate your images of the lovely Hally Be--Why is she wearing a knife with her bikini?!  Then again, why not?


It's my pleasure. And hers aswell.


5 hours ago, Cyradis said:


In case she encounters a sea turtle that is stuck in fishing line, duh. Gotta have a knife when you go swimming to save the turtles.


Cyradis is basically right. Not only turtles, but everything. Even if you get stuck in a fishing line yourself, you can use the knife to free yourself. It's a basic divers tool.

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Going the first mile (How to plan and to start)



Basic Thoughts

As with all figures or miniature topics, it’s important to think before you start.

A miniature is always the expression of an idea and/or a certain mood, and the way it’s painted is not only a question of talent and practice, but also of thoughtfulness and preparation.

Changing your mind in between some steps might be helpful in some cases and necessary, but can also lead to a waste of time, effort and material – and sometimes is not doable anymore. That applies to historic topics as well as to fantasy, sci fi and all the other things I currently can’t think of.



The overall question of what a product should look like in the end, is always a result of:

a) want do I want,

b) what do I have,

c) what do I need

d) which way will I go




Sometimes, the model itself is your first inspiration, sometimes the scenery offers you an idea on which way you will have to go, and sometimes it’s your own imagination that sparks the fire of productivity.


Whatever may be the case – the first thing you should do is spending some time for research on the topic.





It doesn’t meant that – when you work on a M4 Sherman – you have to study the history of tanks, but maybe some colors, effects of certain areas (snow, mud, sand, etc), special markings and so on. Look for reference photos on camo patterns, maybe check the work of other modelers and get an idea on how you want to start – or, if you already started – how you want to continue. Damages or alterations of the vehicle can also improve the overall look of your vehicle. Scratches from ricocheted shells for example or accessories can improve the look of your model. And those elements also affect the application of weathering materials.


So you need to consider what such hits or effects look like and how you can include them into your work.


Another question is what kind of materials will or can you use? Do you want to get some pigments, or just work with oil colors or enamel, or just acrylics or everything combined?

Such questions are important to answer in the first place, because they affect the way you paint and weather your model.



Build and paint or paint while building?




One of the most important questions for assembling a model is always, if you want to paint it when finished assembling your work or finish one part and paint before continuing.

I think it depends on what you have to do. Some vehicles or houses you have to assemble before you paint them, some parts you can work on and finish before you continue your work.

Here you should always ask yourself if you can paint all parts easily without destroying already finished parts of your vehicle.

One example are tank tracks and/or wheels. I mostly leave the tank tracks and wheels off until I finished base-coloring the body and paint those parts separately instead. Some vehicles – for example tabletop tanks – require the wheels to be assembled because they are casted to the sides of the vehicle.

Other works like multi-color patterns require you to work on the vehicle as a whole to make the pattern look natural and cover the vehicle as a whole.



Base-coating – to pre-shade or not to pre-shade

Once you’ve got your model ready to be painted, the next question arising is the one of priming - or if you better pre-shade or post shade.





Pre-shading is a technique of applying a primer and then directly apply another (primer) color over it to emphasize darker and lighter parts before applying the main color of the model. That’s supposed to break up the monotone surface of your vehicle and imitate the effect of light falling on the model.

Another possibility to do this is post-shading: applying the primer, base color and then do highlights and shadows.

Both methods work the same way, but the effects are slightly different. With pre-shading, the highlight-shadow effect appears from under the basecoat, therefore it’s way more subtle and harder to recognize, but creates a smooth effect.

Post-shading is way more visible and pops out, but can also be overdone and therefore ruin your work if it’s done too stark.

I think it’s a question of what you like most. I use both variants, but due to my cartoonish style preferences I work mostly with post-shading.


This Chimera has been primed without any effects:



This flak gun was pre-shaded using a dark grey primer and a light grey primer over it. After that the base color was applied.



The StuG was post-shaded. You can see the larger surfaces appear way lighter in color than the overall vehicle.




Post-shading effect on some 15mm vehicles:



... and after all the weathering is finished:



And all combined:



As you can see, the basic effect of pre- and post-shading is almost the same, though you can imagine the color variation of the flak gun will later be more subtle due to more and more layers of color covering the pre-shading.



Some thoughts on “layers” of weathering

Once you have done your priming, it’s time to apply your colors. Here your earlier made plans spring into action.

A weathering effect is not only done by applying one layer after the other, but rather by combining your different layers into steps, making it easier for you to evenly finish your model.


Why is that?


The idea behind this is basically the imitation of the weathering sequence. No vehicle lives forever. When it leaves the factory, it's newly painted, and if the factory is not fully retarded, they make the paint job good enough so the vehicle will stay like that for a while.

But somewhen, the effects of weather will settle in. Our vehicle is hammered by the elements, rain, heat, cold, salt - whatever you can think of, will more or less "attack" the paint of the vehicle. The lacquer will start to fade, break up, will be repainted, will fade further, rust will accumulate and work against the structure.

Those are long-term effects affect the vehicle over time.

Midterm effects like streaks also take effect, washing away grime or dust that settles over time.

And short term effects like snow or dust will concentrate on the vehicle, but will be washed away or melt over time, creating midterm and long term effects.


You want a rather rusty vehicle? So maybe it’s better to paint on a rusty base color and put all the other colors over it instead of trying to create rust effects as some kind of layer.

Or you want to create German Hinterhalt-camouflage. In that case, it’s a question of what will be your base color – and if you want to go from dark to light or vice versa.

For example:

Starting off with acrylics, finish all the acrylic work, sealing it, doing waterslide decals, sealing it, doing enamel washes, doing oils, doing pigments, finished.

Or: Starting off with acrylics, seal it, use chipping varnish, do acrylics over it, let it dry, rub some acrylics off, then seal again, use washes, oil and pigments.

Or: Use acrylics, do all effects with acrylics, seal it and then do pigments.


It’s always important to make sure you finish one step completely, so you evenly build up your vehicle or house. Otherwise, you forget something, you mess up and in the end and your work looks like one of my older tanks, which I forgot to seal after I applied all the acrylics. I put enamel washes over it and used thinner to wipe off some wash - and with it, the paint and the plastic came off, too.









Basically that’s what we have to keep in mind, when we start our work.


So – let’s start our first vehicle, shall we?

Edited by SisterMaryNapalm
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Very well explained! I might add to think of what the sequence of weathering is when painting. For example on your Stugs and Shermans, they came with fresh paint at one time. Then it will fade and rust from being outside. Then the weather and terrain take effect, mud and snow can be applied either way depending on what they went through first. And don't forget, rain will wash off some surface grime from the top down.

Edited by Corsair
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22 minutes ago, Corsair said:

Very well explained! I might add to think of what the sequence of weathering is when painting. For example on your Stugs and Shermans, they came with fresh paint at one time. Then it will fade and rust from being outside. Then the weather and terrain take effect, mud and snow can be applied either way depending on what they went through first. And don't forget, rain will wash off some surface grime from the top down.


I wanted to include that when starting on the vehicles, but yeah. Maybe you are right. Maybe it's better to put it in the general thoughts. I'll add it once I've finished the German translation.

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On 9/28/2019 at 9:06 PM, BLZeebub said:

Gotta say I appreciate your images of the lovely Hally Be--Why is she wearing a knife with her bikini?!  Then again, why not?


I was far to distracted by the bikini to even notice the knife. 

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