Mud -how to (tips that apply to weathering in general)

I think I would like to write some short posts on techniques for beginners Not sure if it is a useful idea, or the post themselves are going to be good, so I would like to ask for some feedback.

That being said… how to mud.

Making mud is a difficult issue. It has to be realistic -or feel realistic, at least. This has always something that eluded me; and I was quite worried with experimenting since I did not want to mess up a model I’ve worked on. We all have seen horrible examples which looked as if some brown substance was crudely brushed all over the model; I do not wish to include examples here for those since I do not think we should put others’ work in display as a bad example. And we all saw the good ones and the amazing ones.

My efforts fall in the middle somewhere: some are good, some are not so good.


I keep buying magazines, promising to show me the way, and I keep testing different products that guarantee a great results straight out of the bottle. But there are no short cuts. I found that you have to work just as much with a dedicated product as using home-made alternatives -or even actual mud. (More on that later.)

So let’s see the different options (which are normally used in conjunction with each other)

  1. Using, well, mud. This is an often overlooked option. 
  2. Pigments (artists’ pigments or ready-made products) NB: raw umber is a great pale color for dry mud color. 
  3. Pigments with some bulking agent mixed in (plaster, texturizer acrylic resin, static grass, sand, or all of the above) This will give volume
  4. AK interactive’s mud product
  5. Vallejo’s mud product
  6. Tamiya’s mud stick and makeup kits

The secret of application is to recognize that one product will not do everything, and one application will not achieve a realistic look. Just because it is on the bottle, it does not mean you will get the effect you want just by smearing the stuff on the model -something I learned to my own surprise.

As with all weathering generally, the secret is on observation and on the application (and partial removal) of layers.

Dry, powdery mud goes on first in a thin but large area. This can actually be sprayed on as an actual paint layer. This is normally light in color, and goes on the complete underside, and some on the top of the vehicle.

Then come the pigments, similar effect, smaller sized area. Using a wet brush (moistened with the appropriate diluent, it being water, turpentine or something else the mud product in question uses) gently remove some of it,, “washing it back”. This is an important step. You can also use paints to modulate the color of pigments (oils, acrylics, watercolor, tempera -whatever you fancy.)

Then come the darker, wetter mud, – again pigment, or pigments mixed with some volume giving material, Adjust, remove some using an old brush again. If you use a special made product, like AK’s mud, make sure you add some volume to it as well, as it is only a thick slurry, and will not give the results you see on the photo on the bottle just by itself.

And on and on -working on smaller and smaller areas, with darker pigments. Some “wet effects” products can actually be used to simulate wet patches, too.

The final touch is to load a stiff brush with thin mud mixture and just flicker it onto the model as splashes -again, done in several sessions in several shades. The trick is to slowly build up the effect.

And that is it. Simple. (Riiigh.)

This same idea can be used with dust as well: apply, remove, apply again. In theory you do not actually need fancy products -pigments should be enough; however they do give a convenient way to get the color right -which is the hard part. Mud is different everywhere, depending on local geography, so keep this in mind. You may think that purpose made products will give you a shortcut to achieve amazing results, but the fact is you need to learn how to use them properly -and you can easily create similar “products” just by using pigments, plaster, etc as mentioned above.

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