Sunday, October 9, 2011

Tools of the Trade VI: Weathering Powders and how to use them

Hey you guys,

I recently have gotten some weathering powders for my minis and wanted to share how I use them. They can add a lot to your mini and you don't need much to try them out. There are many different brands of pigments on the market, but they all can be used the same way. All you need are the pigments and something to fix them with.

I use the Vallejo type pigments, because I'm a fan of their brand in general and my FLGS stocks almost all of their product line.

I've tried two very different approaches thus far. One where I apply the pigment dry and fix them afterward and one where I apply the pigment wet. 

1. Apply dry and fix wet

For this method you just take a brush and apply the dry pigment generously to the areas on your mini you want to weather. When you're satisfied, you'll need something to fix the pigment with, or otherwise all your work will be for naught. I use 96% proof Isopropanol alcohol for this. Just take a brush and dip it into the alcohol and touch it to the weathered parts. The capillary action will draw the alcohol right onto your fig and the pigments will set in all the crevices. The moisture will then evaporate - but you still will need something to protect the weathering from future wear. For this, is use one or two coats of matte varnish, which will secure it and take the shine of, adding to the overall effect.

BEWARE: Before using alcohol, coat your mini with varnish, as the alcohol can damage your paintjob. Just look at the foot of my Warjack - on the screw in the middle the alcohol took some of the silver paint right off.
Pigment applied dry
Alcohol can damage your paint.

2. Apply wet

For this, I used Vallejos Pigment Glaze and some pigment to create a wash. I applied this liberally to the areas I wanted to weather and just waited for it to dry. Afterwards, I sealed it with varnish to keep the pigment in place.

The Pigment Glaze
The pigment wash
The wash applied...

...and dried
You can also use this technique for rust effects to create great pieces for a narrative on your bases.
WIP of a rusted armor plate
The plate on the finished base

And that's all there's to it. As always, enjoy and have fun!




  1. Hey IK-Painter. I came across your blog through Dakka and have enjoyed reading it very much. I have a question regarding your use of varnish during your weathering process when applying dry and fixing wet. It sounds like you use varnish twice during your weathering. Is that correct?

    Is this your correct order?
    Paint > Varnish > Weathering Powder > Isopropanol > Final Matte Varnish

    Secondly, If I am correct in the order of your process, what type of varnish do you use first? Matte, Satin or gloss?

    Thanks very much!

  2. Hey haendas,

    glad you are enjoying my blog!

    The order you describe is the one I use for the weathering.

    I do apply varnish twice during the weathering process - once before the weathering, cause the alcohol can damage your paintjob if you aren't careful and once after the weathering is done, to protect the pigments from rubbing off.

    For the first coat of varnish I go with gloss, because it makes the surface very smooth - perfect for applying washes or in this case the alcohol, because it helps with the capillary action.

    Specifics on the varnish I use can be found at

    Hope this helps you!