Hobby: Weathering with Oil Paints


Falconator here from falconatorpainting.blogspot.com (I know creative title) and today I am going to share my recent experience with using oils to weather a Space Marine Predator.

I am in the process of rebuilding and painting my White Scars so I will be showing how I accomplished this weathering on a white base. I want to preface this tutorial / horror show with the following (this is my first attempt at using oil weathering, and the examples I had to learn from were not weathering white armor and this makes a difference.

Click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Before weathering you need to have the tank pretty much painted in the colors you want, at least the parts you are going to weather. So on this guy I threw a wash of Secret Weapons Soft Body Black then added the decals (because they have to be weathered too). The red trim was largely completed also though it will need a little work after I played with a glaze that ended up shinier than I would have liked. But here is what we have before we start weathering.

I have worked with oils in the canvas painting arena so I am somewhat familiar with them but for those who have never been exposed to them there are a few things you need to know. Dry time is a day or two – you can tweak this paint on the miniature for quite a long time, but this also means that you can foul up your paint job for a day or two after you are done. So plan your painting times accordingly. You also have to use turpentine to clean brushes/ dilute oils. They have some versions that have no smell but be aware that you need good ventilation if you are not using such a product. Also you will want to grab a few brushes or use some of your older brushes. Having two brushes to switch between makes things much simpler.

So the technique that I began with was a form of one that is used heavily in military modeling to get realistic water stains/ smears smudges etc. I made some mistakes this I know and there were a few OH $#!7 moments but overall I think the effect came off okay. I do not know if I will try this again but once I have a squad of infantry weathered we will see how they all fit together.
Basically you use 3 or 4 different colors and dot them over a flat surface then you use a flat brush with turpentine to pull them all together. Be sure to brush in the same direction and in a straight line.

This is pre-turpentine brushing. And yes it is one of those moments I mentioned above as it looks like my nicely based tank is going to look like a damn clown car.

And this is where I learned the rules are a bit different on a white base. I was under the impression you could just pull these paints off with turpentine…on white a stain is left. So after a few pairs of undies and a lot of turpentine I was able to get something reasonable out of this and not ruin the miniature. To fix this I had to actually blend some white oils back into this surface to save it.

But all was not lost, as I stated before this was a learning experience so I adjusted my strategy. The blending of oil colors was causing a very strong tint of the white. So rather than blending multiple colors together I settled on a light brownish single color that I will blend into with acrylics after I get the streaks I am looking for. I then went about the entire tank splotching away with my small brush and pulling with my large one.
The real trick is that every pass you make with your bigger brush you need to clean it. Dip it in turpentine, remove the excess, and then start streaking again. You can also use your small brush to apply turpentine directly to the model and then hit it with your big brush to remove a portion of a streak. This way you can be very selective in where your weathering occurs. Again on white you have to be very careful due to the staining but I think on darker colors you could get away with much more.

Here is the finished product (as far as the oils go), I will be adding pigments and there is lots of painting that still needs to be done. I had to go back in with white oil paint in several places in order to tone down the brownish stains that dominated the model. Overall I think this tank is looking pretty promising with a bit more tweaking to the technique I think I can really make great use of oils in my painting. At some point I am going to try to my hand at oil weathering on infantry.

I will finish off the tank in a future article so you can see how the oils play into the overall paint scheme on the tank. There is plenty of work left to do on this guy and you can catch the progress at my blog Falconator Painting, on my Facebook Page, or @falconatorpaint on twitter.


About Reecius

The fearless leader of the intrepid group of gamers gone retailers at Frontline Gaming!
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Sean Ireland
Sean Ireland
10 years ago

Ive done the same thing, though I spray the tank with future floor shine to help the oil paint flow better. Nice article, oils can be intimidating, I only gave them a shot this year.

10 years ago

I will totally try the floor shine I bet that works like a champ.

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