Tag Archives: tutorial

Making rust -using rust

Nothing looks more like rust, than, well, rust.

Back in the US I had a brilliant product: a two-part rust effect product. One flask had suspended iron particles, the other was an activator (an oxidizing reagent). You applied the metal suspension to the surface, and after it dried, you added the activator. After some days (or hours, depending on how much activator/iron you used) you got a very realistic rust effect. (It was rust, after all.) You could play around with different reagents to get different colors- after all any acid or hydrogen peroxide would work very well, and produce slightly different mixture of the different iron oxide variants. (Being in Florida, it was also a very viable option to simply leave the model out on the patio… the 100% humidity and high temperature was quite effective rusting anything, anyhow.)

The armor of my orc warrior was done using this method. (In this case the rust effect was used to depict a rotting leather armor; the same product was used on the ground as well to simulate dirt.)


Modern Masters and Porters Paints have similar products, but they cost an arm and leg.

However, you can make your own rust pigments, and quite easily at that.

Simply use scratch brite (metal, of course). Put some steel wool or scratch brite into a cup, add vinegar or peroxide (or any acid of your choice), and stick it somewhere safe, where nobody will disturb it. Let it stand for a month or two, and wait for the liquid to evaporate. (If by the time it evaporates parts of the iron are still unoxidized, simply refill the cup.) You can even experiment: depending on the strength and nature of the oxidizing reagent you use, you will get a slightly different colored mixture of rust particles.


The result will be a brown mess; if you break it up in a pestle you will have finely ground iron oxide, ready to be used. As the orc warrior has demonstrated the pigments have more uses than simply depict rust: they have a nice, brown range of colors which can be used in groundwork, deposits, etc. (Some of the rust I’ve made this was was used to simulate deposits collecting in the nooks and crevices of the T-62 wreck I’m building.)

Chipping techniques- washable paints, hairspray and Windex chipping

I was curious how some chipping methods compare, so I did some experiments. Since the old hairspray I used ran out, and I could not get a similar product, I switched to the AK chipping fluid. (Not all hairsprays are the same when it comes to chipping; if you find something that works, stick to it.)

I also wanted to see how the Windex chipping technique works, and what the Mig Ammo washable white paint does. It’s not a comprehensive tutorial by any means, but I hope others find it useful.

Hairspray technique


There’s a nice summary of the hairspray technique on another blog, so I won’t be taking up much space with it. It essentially works by forming a water soluble layer between two paint layers, which makes a chipping effect once water is applied and slightly macerated with a stiff brush or toothpick. It can be applied to simulate paint chips or worn white wash; I used white in this case. With the AK Interactive product there’s a time factor: the earlier you do the chipping after the paint is dried, the larger the chips are; the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to remove the top layer. This can be used for your advantage, as it also allows you to use it in conjunction with the Windex chipping technique.

Windex chipping


This is something relatively new. I’ve read about it in the Single Model series (02) by Rinaldi Studio Press. This technique depends on the fact that ammonia dissolves Tamiya (and supposedly similar acrylic) paints. You essentially dissolve the top layer with a 1-3% ammonia solution. (Windex and similar cleaning products contain ammonia; you can even buy ammonia by itself, and it would work just as fine.) The higher the ammonia concentration, the easier you remove the top paint layer, so it’s worth being patient and using less concentrated solutions. I used to use Windex as a solvent and airbrush cleaner; it seems like it’s great for chips as well. The effect is much more subtle than the hairspray technique’s: it produces smaller chips, and the effect is more like rubbed-off paint.

Mig Ammo washable white


It’s essentially a white paint that can be spray painted and then washed off after drying. It does not form chips as it is; it’s more like a whitish translucent overcoat. The paint should not be diluted much (one or two drops of water, tops), as it would spray very dilute. (It took a while to figure out why it behaves like a wash when I sprayed it… The Lowe I did was the test piece, and I had to try three times before I realized I needed to keep the dilution low. It’s quite thick, so some dilution is necessary, but not much.) I’m not sure it stays washable after a prolonged period of time; it probably does.

Onto the test…

So I prepared my trusty Pnz IV mudguards with a green layer of paint, and sealed it with Dullcote. (So that it protects the paint from the ammonia.) The next layer was Tamiya’s flat white.

I divided up the segments, and got working. (I forgot to take a photo before I started to work on the AK Interactive chipping fluid. Imagine it white.)

AK Interactive Chipping fluid

I used a wet brush on the surface, and then gently a toothpick to nick the surface. The nicks were enlarged with a large, relatively stiff wet brush.

The resulting chips are giving a stark contrast between the white and the underlying green.


Mig Ammo Washable White

The paint is very thick and kind of shiny once on the surface (you can see this on the photo). After a little drying period, I used a wet brush with a downward motion to remove the paint. It got dissolved, and smeared over the surface. The residual paint formed an uneven layer over the green paint, making the surface look worn. No chips, but realistic worn effect.


The Windex Chipping method

I prepared a ~2% Ammonia solution using a kitchen cleaning product, and used a brush to wet the surface with it. I waited a minute or two and then gently rubbed the brush against the surface. For a long time nothing seemed to happen, but after a while I got a very nice, realistic chipping effect. It’s an important thing to point out: the effect is very gradual; for a while it really does look like nothing is happening. Some foam appears, but that’s it. Don’t push the brush down (now I’m rapping about modelling), as it might lift up the base layer as well.


You can see the same technique used to recreate rust on the electric mule I built not long ago. The square parts are about 0.5cm long. Unfortunately the photo is not the best (the most interesting part is out of focus), but the effect can still be judged: tiny, minuscule chips and general look of wear-and-tear. Pretty good, I’d say.


AK Interactive Chipping fluid and Windex combined

The fourth section was first treated with the AK Interactive chipping fluid, did the chips, then waited a couple of days. (It was probably close to a week, if I recall correctly.) The next step was to use the Windex method on the same section, forming smaller chips. The effects are subtle next to the large chips, but you can see how the paint rubbed off the edges and other areas sticking out. It also formed very tiny little chips between the larger ones, making the effect a bit more realistic. The Windex effects complements the larger chips of the previous method quite nicely. Due to dissolving the white color, it also deposited some on the green undercoat, making the contrast less pronounced in some areas. (Not all and not evenly.)



So there is it.

I think the washable paint looks good as a very worn winter whitewash on its own. If you use hairspray chipping for whitewash it would also be very useful to tone down the stark contrast between the underlying paint and the white on top.

The Windex method is great for subtle chips, but it also complements the larger hairspray chipping.

This, of course, is not limited to whitewashes; excellent chips can be done using a rust undercolor, or even a variation of the main color. (Green on green chips, camo pattern chips, etc.) Your imagination is the limit.

There are more than one ways to skin a cat, so these are not the definitive methods; there are other ones as well. AK Interactive just came out with a solution that makes any acrylic paint washable; the this opens up a large potential of uses from dust to worn paint. I have ordered it, so when I have some time I’ll see what it can do, and post the results.



(Here’s an imgur album for the photos- they are hopefully larger than the wordpress versions.)

Playing around with Lifecolor’s Liquid Pigments – Rust Wizard Review


I do some experiments on techniques or modelling products now on then; I might as well share them here. Here’s the previous post about the different media you can suspend your pigments.


I saw these new products mentioned in armorama, and they did look interesting. While I tend to avoid paint/weathering sets, I thought I’d give it a go, since rust is something that is difficult to do, and new methods are always welcome.

I’ve been experimenting with this product for a while now, and here are my thoughts about it.

One thing that is very important is to apply the product to a flat (matte) surface (as in flat paint, although a level surface does not hurt, either). It flows quite freely, and if the surface is a little bit satin it will just flow into the recesses as an ordinary wash would do. This in itself can give you a nice rusty effect, but this is not what we’re looking to achieve here. So: always use it on a flat surface. (Unless you DO want a rust-wash; this is a perfectly good use of this product.)

Most of the paint flows into the crevices even on a semi-matte surface like this

The standard Tamiya paint is perfect base to use it on, since it is very flat, however the remover solution that comes with the set does seem to attack the paintcoat. If you plan to use the remover, use a very, very, very flat enamel based varnish. Testors Dullcote is just not flat enough in my experience.

Patience is important using this product: you have to wait until the subsequent colors dry, otherwise they just mix into one rust tone. While this is only slightly annoying with brush application, I have to say I would not consider using an airbrush if I want to apply it in several coats. It’s a major pain in the neck setting up everything every hour or so for a one minute spray session, so I think I’ll stick to the brush application for now. I have to say, though, it does spray on very nicely, and you can do some very nice shading with this product.

I ended up applying the pigments starting with the lighter and brighter colors and finishing with the darker colors. Most cases when you have a rusty surface, the darker colors dominate, and you only see patches of bright rust. This order you ensure that only small amount of the yellowish rust will show, and hopefully it’ll result in a more realistic surface. There’s nothing stopping you applying the lighter colors (yellows and oranges) with a detail brush after you applied the base, dark rust color, it’s only my take on this.

The remover does remove the washes after they dried; it really works. (I was a bit curious as the wash dries into a pretty resilient layer.) If you want to selectively remove layers of the pigments, you have to seal the surface with varnish after the individual steps.



Still wet after application. Lots of tide marks, not very pretty. Most of the contrast disappears with drying, and there are no tide-marks left.
Same piece after drying- the transitions are not that stark any more
Second color applied- simply dabbed on with a brush.
Third color, same method. The idea was to show more of the dark rust colors, and have the brighter ones only “shine through” at the edges
The fourth rust color added.
Same method applied to the other end of the plastic part
A brush with the remover solution was used to gently rub off/ blend the rust colors. As you can see it did remove even the base Tamiya paint. (The effect is not bad, though, but it’s worth keeping in mind


The complete sprue: the left one had the pigments applied using an airbrush, the right one we used a brush. Both had been worked with the remover solution


Well, it’s mixed. I prefer the whole “do it yourself” school of modelling, so my opinion is a bit colored by this. (I do use products that work much better or simplify things greatly; but I tend to avoid sets that are aimed at specific models… like DAK weathering sets, or 1941 German Uniform Color Modulation Sets.)
Anyhow. This product is essentially pigments suspended in a carrier medium. They are very fine, so you can use an airbrush to apply them. This is definitely a plus. It is water based, so no nasty chemicals there; it’s another great thing about it. On the other hand they don’t really provide you with a magic bullet to produce a heavily rusted tank. It essentially cannot do anything you could not do with some dry pigments, and oil paints.

Experiments with Pigments


I’ve decided to do some experiments with pigments and different media used to fix them. I was curious if there was a difference between the different solvents in regards to the effect they have on the look of the pigments, on the color, and on the grip. (Many times we add pigments, then rub/brush off the excess to create a worn, dirty look.) I used a spare piece of fender with Tamiya flat green painted over white enamel base.

Act 1.

I’ve used Mig’s earth colored pigment, and the following solvents (the term is inaccurate, since they do not actually dissolve pigments, but there you go):


  1. Revell Enamel Thinner
  2. White spirit
  3. Zest It
  4. Water
  5. Mig Ammo pigment fixer applied to pigments
  6. Mig Ammo pigment fixer and pigments pre-mixed, and applied after

I mixed the pigments with the solvents, then brushed the mixture on. It was let to dry for a day.


In the case of organic solvents the pigments were simply carried onto the surface by the liquid; in all three cases the pigment particles remained visibly separated from the solvent phase. In case of water a slurry-like suspension was created.


Slightly darker color; weird whitish byproduct.


Flat color, no discoloration.


Same as white spirit.


A much more uniform effect (the mixture resembled a muddy slurry), with some discoloration. (Apologies for the mismatching font type.)


On the left-hand side I added the pigments dry, and then used the fixer. On the right hand side I mixed the two together, just like in the previous cases, and applied this mixture to the surface. The effect is similar. The color of the pigment darkened somewhat.


Act 2.

It is important to see how well the pigments adhere to the surface with the different solvents, so I used a relatively stiff brush (and my thumb) to rub some of it off.

After some gentle rubbing, here are the results.


The enamel thinner did leave some of the pigments fixed to the surface. The darker color is still evident.




White spirit, Zest it and water had similar effects: majority of the pigments were rubbed off, but some remained leaving a nice, realistic dirty look. Most of the pigments stayed between the small details, where they were protected, but some acted as a filter on the flat surface as well.


The pigment fixer -not surprisingly- fixed the pigments much better. When rubbed, however, it came off in chunks, as you can see on the right side.

In conclusion: if you plan to manipulate pigments, do not use pigment fixers as a carrier medium; apply it only after you are finished. Otherwise the choice of solvent is only dependent on you, and what the underlying paint can tolerate. (Obviously enamels would not be very stable if you used white spirit.)