Tips and Tricks for Weathering Vehicles

By OddBallz

Weathering is the process of applying rust, dust and other effects to a vehicle model. While it's common for humie and panzee vehicles to look as though their owners have just given them a nice wash, Ork vehicles should look as though they've been used and abused. But this is fantasy, and we're talking about wargaming models. The idea is to have a model that has the appearance of realism, but is still attractive to look at.

There are a few tricks to achieving this.

Rusty bare metal:

It's now very common for Ork vehicle models to be painted as if they are bare metal - usually Boltgun Metal. In reality, bare metal rusts very fast when exposed to the elements. So it's not realistic for Ork vehicles to be a shiny metal colour - they'd actually be bright orange! You can do this if you like, but it's probably better to confine the rust to the joints, crevices and boltheads, while keeping most of the vehicle in the classic metal colour.

Start with a black base. I prime it with GW's (somewhat erratic) Chaos Black spray, then give it a thin coat of acrylic Chaos Black to fill any small gaps and to bind everything together. I find the layer of acrylic black is especially effective when you've got resin, plastic and metal components on the same model.

Apply a thorough drybrush of Tin Bitz. Most of the black base will be covered.

Drybrush with Boltgun Metal. This is the slightly tricky bit; you want to hit all the raised edges, but still have the bronze sheen of the Tin Bitz visible underneath. Take your time, and use a smaller drybrush - the 'Tankbrush' is hopeless, and will make it look like it was painted by a chimp.

Go back and paint in all the corners and grooves with diluted black. This restores some shape and definition to the model.
Oddballz Looted Rhino

Oddballz Looted Rhino.

Top view showing paint effects and stowage

Top view showing paint effects and stowage.

At this stage you can add a camouflage colour, or paint parts of the vehicle a colour appropriate to your army's theme (e.g. red). I suggest that you keep any such colours relatively pristine, rather than obliterating them with subsequent weathering effects, but it's a matter of personal taste. On the looted Rhino shown in the photos, I added Ultramarines Blue panels (representing the remains of the Rhino's original colour scheme), and didn't do much more to them apart from adding some rust and drybrushed metal on the edges.

Then use diluted Vermin Brown or Bestial Brown to add rust effects to all the boltheads, raised panel edges and other fittings. The trick is to keep it quite diluted, so it flows into the corners of the detail and pools around things like rivets, but doesn't cover the raised areas. You may need a couple of coats to get the desired build-up of rust. Remember that the edges of opening hatches and panel lines won't be rusty, so keep the black outlining on those areas. You can use Chestnut Ink for rust, but I find it doesn't look right by itself. It is good over the diluted brown paint though.

Go over it again with a Boltgun Metal drybrush. This has to be fairly delicate, so as not to ruin all the rust effects. Again, be patient, and do small areas at a time. After this, you can add some rust streaking; rust streaks should flow down from a rivet or some other raised point. You can also add some streaks of diluted black - this represents oil and fuel spillage and leaks, which are common on armoured vehicles.

Tracks should be painted a solid rust colour, then drybrushed with Boltgun Metal. The exhausts should also be a solid rust colour. Heat rusts metal, and exhausts tend to be bright orange, so add some red and orange to your rust colour and drybrush it over the base colour. The muzzle of the exhaust will be black, of course.

Then move on and paint the details (stowage, glyphs etc). It's easy to clean up any slips, because you can just drybrush some Boltgun Metal over them.

Crusted mud/dirt effects:

You don't need to do this, but you can start by applying blobs of glue to the lower surfaces of the model (before any painting), then smearing fine flock into it (use your finger, but be careful what you touch with those glue-smeared fingers!). Don't overdo it, and remember dried mud tends to get knocked off raised areas (like towing hooks and boltheads), so wipe these clean as you go. It should also be heavier on the back than the front, as tracked vehicles throw up a lot of mud and dirt as they move. Then prime the model as per usual; this helps to seal the flock as well.

After you've painted all the metal effects, paint the lower areas with Scorched Brown or Graveyard Earth. Put it on fairly thickly, but don't go too far up the sides. Again, you can skip this colour if you want a lighter dust effect.

When the mud colour is dry, drybrush over it with Bubonic Brown or Snakebite Leather. The texturing created by the flock will catch these highlights, adding texture and interest to the model - this represents the outer mud drying (and thus going lighter in colour).

You can drybrush the tracks with a dirt colour, but the outer surfaces of the tracks (i.e. the parts that will touch the ground and the suspension) will be bare metal.

Finally, give the model a light drybrush of Bleached Bone - this represents the dust that all military vehicles acquire in active service, and helps bind the various colours together.

Close-up of rust and mud effects on lower hull

Close-up of rust and mud effects on lower hull.