Robotic Rust

With Wildwood Meadows safely behind me  I’ve turned my attention back to 40k projects.  Some converted Fire Dragons got a lick of paint (they won’t be posted here but are on Morthai’s excellent project log on Warseer) and I started experimenting with Eldar bases again.  But, more significantly I have dragged out the Necron stuff again (I actually forgot which box they were in, but found them eventually).

The Warrior torsos, arms and legs received an airbrush coat of mid grey and chip/scratch masks were applied with masking fluid and a variety of application methods.  I then airbrushed a shade coat of light blue and a couple of highlights of white and removed the mask, including the old masks that I’d applied to the Necrons earlier this year to cover up the parts I wanted to stay German Red-Brown.  This was done with a combination of a sculpting pick to peel off the big masked areas, and a soft brush to take off the chips/scratches, revealing the grey beneath.  While I had the sculpting pick handy I also tended to add a few more scratches to the white paintwork, as it is easily susceptible to damage but the grey underneath is not.  These scratches are far finer than I could achieve with paint or a mask.

This is what they look like after that stage:

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While the chipping is nice, a few problems present themselves.  The lack of contrast around detailed areas like the knee joints and toes doesn’t do these models any justice.  Also, I obviously got lazy with the masking because some models (legs 1 and 3 above) had their lower legs masked while some (2 and 4) did not.  Those ones look particularly unfinished by comparison.

In a fit of inspiration just before hitting the sack last night I pulled out some Mig “Old Rust” weathering powder.  Colour wise this is not at all dissimilar to the German red-brown base coat.  I applied this liberally to the knee joints, lower legs, around the feet, and sparingly elsewhere.  A wet finger tip brushed lightly over the raised areas takes the powder away allowing some control over highlights or where you don’t want the weathering.  The knee joints below are a good example of this technique.

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I was starting to feel quite pleased with the effect, as the powders really do a great job of imparting this sort of aged patina to the armour surface that I like to imagine a millennia old robot body would develop.  Then I remembered that one of the major drawbacks with weathering powders is they have a habit of disappearing when spray varnished.  I did some research and found some very useful experiments on varnish and powders over at From The Warp which gave me some encouragement. In the end I decided to try and fix the powders with Games Workshops ‘Ard Cote gloss varnish.  When applied very carefully, i.e. brushed lightly and dabbed where the powder is heaviest, the varnish has taken to the model without disturbing the powder.  It also seals and protects the paint job which is something I’d have to do anyway seeing as these are gamig pieces.

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I like how on the Immortal legs, which have an extra layer of armour, the weathering powder will pick that out nicely.  I ensured to brush upwards on the model with the powder, to accumulate the powder on the underside of the armour layers.

Here are some torsos, with (left) and without (right) weathering powder, showing the nice finished effect it provides.  Perhaps the best thing about using powders is that it is immensely quick and far easier than painting the shading/weathering effects – it almost feels like cheating to be honest.

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The other benefit of course is the incredibly naturalistic finish and the happy accidents that occur as you apply powder, wipe off, apply some more and so on.  The model really takes shape before your eyes.  Some great happy accident moments so far include how the powder has accumulated around the edge of the paint chip on the right hand upper leg here (slightly blurry photo, sorry).  The paint chips, being the result of a mask and then a couple of airbrush layers, are only microns deep, but the Mig weathering powder is so fine that even that is enough to warrant accumulation of the powder.  Rust and grime naturally develops around paint chips so this is a great discovery.

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And here, the sort of invading rust streaks on the right hand lower leg, extending from the knee joint.  Not an effect I’d ever expect to achieve with paint thats for sure!

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So all progressing nicely and I’m looking forward to assembling this first batch of Warriors and Immortals.

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