Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Playing around with Salt weathering Part 1

I’ve noticed that a lot of the times, the first time that you try out new skills and techniques, they’ll be triggered because you want to bring the best out of the newest and shiniest models that you own. 
You’ll be happier, and more dedicated to try to learn something new to really make the model pop. One of my most recently favourite mini is the Hades, so I figured a new process should be attempted in full, with practice.
Techniques come with the mini, but stick around afterwards 
The first time that I tried out blending was for a Space Marine Champion power sword, and most recently it was used for a Cyclops Operators OSL.

The first time that I tried out sponge weathering was on a Rhino, now used on anything with a driver.

Battle damage. Snow. Icicles. Dirty golds. 
All tried out on mini’s that was marginally newer and shinier than the others owned thus far. Many are still to be perfected, but with time, and practice, they get better and better.

I've seen a lot of things on really helpful sites that indicate Salt weathering as a good mechanism to get a really effective and realistic rusted effect on vehicles. http://massivevoodoo.blogspot.co.uk/ is one of the best resources I've come across, some brilliant articles that go from the top of the learning spectrum all the way to the basics, without patronising or assuming you’ll own all the kit and their tutorial on salt weathering is one I can recommend. It advocates an airbrush but does include some instructions for without.
Not wanting to ruin my Hades (as Salt is fairly well known for being aggressive) I trialled a few options on the bases of some of my Imperial guard tanks. First you whack down a colour. This I painted with a brush, I decided to try out a few different rust-like colours to see which would be most effective.
After this, you spray a layer of hairspray down onto the dried paint and sprinkle salt onto the still-wet spray. This was where I tried a few more options.

I tried a combination of the salts I had available, to see which would bring the most effective look. After the salt had dried for several hours I then tried two options. With 2 tanks I sprayed them with Citadel Chaos black. And with the others I painted over.
This was where you’ll see how tough hairspray compares. When painting, even as lightly as possible, the salt grains would still lift clear and move away from where they were based. When spraying, they managed to keep their original placing far better. Leave to dry once more.
Then onto the hot water. Old, brush check. Hot water check. This process was a lot easier than I had initially thought, and the grains lifted far easier than I’d thought.
This stage revealed that colour choice was important. The greens and the blues looked the worst as rust. I thought an interesting patina would be cool, but in practice, the blues needed to pop far more, and likely would work better with brown as well.

These examples also weren't helped by the shape of the large grain salt looking the least realistic.
Spray paint worked fine, too well in fact. The rust afterwards looked far too clean. The irregular patina and brush strokes of the layer of paint over it looked far better.

So, before it had dried, this was my favourite result of the rust that I had.
  • Brown Rust.
  • Little salt.
  • Raised areas of 'rust' texture.
  • Small grains.
  • Rust layer hand painted.
  • Base layer hand painted.

And then the stuff dried...
And the base of my tank turned into the pussy-vampire of the Twilight films.


And the still image.
This was an unfortunate example of where some of the grains have remained adhered, so with a little more vigorous brushwork and some almost boiling water the hull looked more like the following.

And best of all no shimmer

At the same time, I am wondering whether the better method may be to simply try a Rust base, a layer of hairspray and then the base coat over its surface. As random movements of the brush and sensible rust patterning should be as effective, minus the salt-hassle.

I also noted that this was easy enough to achieve whilst the surface is flat, the key would be to get the direction correct.

I have three more tanks with which to practice this process upon, so by the third, this should be perfected/completed!

To be continued...


  1. The main benefit of the salt method is the "Random" effect you'd get. It would work best for a type of tank that would be left outside to slowly decay over time. (orks!) Less so a tank that was rusting due to lack of maintenance during wartime. (That would be more targeted brush work).

    That being said, the overall effect in the bottom two images is really awesome. Reminds me of the hull of an old ship.

    Your gifs have also inspired me to do something similar with finished models! Thanks!

    1. Post it here when you've finished! I need all the examples I can get.

      The idea with this is to do the hades like the whole thing is a hunk of rusted metal.

    2. Will do! But my idea wasn't so much a salt method (which I haven't even really attempted yet, though currently painting a mega dread I should have tried it on...), but to get a rotating pilith and record video of finished models on a turntable as a gif for the finished posts!