Thursday, June 2, 2011

Steel Legion Tank Detailing - Heroes of Armageddon

And we're back...

Last post you saw all the tanks we painted on Saturday. Lots of airbrushing and a fun experiment with the "hairspray and salt" weathering technique. What is this technique Dave? Well, I'm glad you asked.

Essentially the process is this: a basecoat of a rusty color (or colors) is put down on a model. The model is then coated liberally in a lacquer-based varnish (hairspray) and fine salt is sprinkled onto the areas you would like to see significant rusty weathering. Once the hairspray is fully dry, the topcoat is airbrushed over the top, along with any highlights and/or camouflage patterns. Then let everything dry thoroughly.

Once you've reached this stage, you can start to reveal the rusty layer beneath your top coat. Knocking off the larger chunks of salt is fairly easy, then the next step is to use a large, wet brush to soak through the acrylic topcoat layers, softening them up and allowing them to pull away from the hairspray layer, leaving you with smaller "chipping" alongside your larger clumps of "salt chipping".

Here's a fun YouTube video on the technique, and how it can work really well.

As I mentioned earlier, this was an experiment for us. As we were painting 13 tanks in a limited time, it also meant that any "mistake" we made in the application of this technique would be multiplied across all 13.

Above is an example of a Leman Russ once the salt had been chipped off. At this point I realized we hadn't used enough salt, and the salt we'd used was too coarse.

Not to worry, onto the next stage. Removing the softened acrylics from the hairspray layer.

Above you can see the result of a few minutes of soaking and attacking the paint fairly vigorously with an old, old drybrush. I think it looks quite cool, but comparing the ease of getting the paint off to that in the above video. I really get the feeling we didn't use enough hairspray. Oh well, lesson learned.

The next step was to detail up the tanks, painting all the stowage and accessories and insignia and markings and so on and so on. Once these were painted, I added a few more damaged areas using the sponge weathering technique (applying Scorched Brown). In some of the larger areas I applied a few dabs of Solar Macharius Orange to add depth to the new "chipping".

So here you can see the nine tanks I've detailed up so far. I'll be completing the rest this week, and then tackling the final (I hope) stage of weathering over the weekend, applying the very cool weathering pigments supplied for the project by Justin at Secret Weapon Miniatures.

I hope you enjoy how they're looking so far. More to come next week : )


PS. For some more great weathering pictures, check out the awesome model that is this week's prize over at the Heroes of Armageddon blog, and make sure you donate early and often!


  1. Those came out great. I always get nervous with weathering that I'm over or under doing it.

  2. Spectacular! I'm always hesitant to try out the various weathering techniques for fear of mis-matching an existing army - but as I'm preparing to undertake a new rendition of the Mordian 7th with all new tanks, perhaps now's the ideal time to do it. Inspiring stuff as always - keep up the great work!

  3. Maybe a combination of the coarse and fine salts would be better next time. And I believe we had 3 layers of paint in some areas you were trying to chip it off, which might make a slight difference? Either way they look great!

  4. I've always read it as a combination of coarse and fine salts, sometimes even mixed in with sea salts (since they're so irregular in size and shape).

    Now Dave, let it be known that I normally worship you and your work. Let it also be known that I realise you were doing 13 at once! Still, a part of me feels that the rusted areas could have used a little bit more of the darker browns and the occasional hint of a higher red to really make it stand out. But I guess when you have 13 to do, I can understand it having a low priority. :)

  5. They look fantastic Dave! And producing 13 in one go is very impressive. While I agree that the salt/rust could have been more varied I think all you really need so some more depth of damage.

    Adding the scorched brown sponging added some great "low" depth wear but I think if you added some metal or "deep" scoring it would add just that little bit more that seems to be missing.

    Hope that helps and am really looking forward to weathering pigments stage!

  6. It's great to finally see the final effects. I felt we didn't use quite enough salt, but like Brien said, maybe we should have just used finer salt?

    The thing that gets me is we really soaked those tanks in hairspray, and it seems we didn't use enough! That's hard to bend my mind around.

  7. You owe me .30 cents for using a variant of "More to come."