How to paint weathering effects

Hello there fellow painter Padawans! Today I want to show you how to paint weathering effects on your X-Wing models.

There are many different ways to achieve a nice weathered look on your plastic spaceships and I want to show you some of the easiest and fastest methods out there. One of the greatest things about trying to achieve a weathered look on your miniature is that it is much easier than to paint clean lines and perfect patterns. It’s hard to mess up a ship that is supposed to look messed up πŸ˜‰

I’m going to break this article down into a few different categories which doesn’t mean that there aren’t any other ways to achieve these results or that you can’t combine any of these methods. I just try to make it easier to look up certain methods.

  • Washing/Shading
  • Drybrushing
  • Painting rust
  • Paint Chipping
  • Fineliner/Pens/Pencils
  • Salt Weathering (I will only briefly touch on this topic as it requires quite a bit of experience and time)


First off we will talk about the effect a simple wash can have on making your model look more weathered. While mostly used to create the illusion of depth by adding shadows to the model you can effectively use the shades on flat surfaces to create a “worn” look. By using a shade (which is essentially just a very thinned down darker paint) on a flat surface you can give it a used, old or even moldy look. Just let the watery paint flow onto the straight surface and let it dry while being in an upright position. Because the washes are very thin paint you can easily paint over it if you don’t like the blotch you created and try a different approach next time. You can also clean up the blotches with a dry brush or soft sponge while the paint is still wet to create the desired effect.

Check out this tutorial for more information about the shading process

B-Wing repaint shading

Weathering through washing


Check out my previous article on drybrushing if you don’t know what it’s all about. Drybrushing is one of the most frequent techniques used in miniature painting. I use it mostly to pick out details and further increase the depth of the model. You can also use it for a nice engine glow or in this case for some metallic weathering very effectively. In the example below I used a silver paint (Leadbelcher from the Citadel range) and slightly drybrushed over the right engine pod of the Scum Y-Wing. This is the only change applied to the model solely for demonstration purposes. You can see that the silver sticks to the highlights and the tip of the pod to give it a slightly worn metallic look. Metallic paints are very useful for drybrushing as they often stand out in a more discrete way than other bright colours, especially of course on mostly metallic vehicles πŸ˜‰

Although frequently used for highlighting you can use darker colours like brown, black or grey on your drybrush to create nice weathering effects. Remember that in order to use the drybrushing technique you need to wipe most of the paint off the brush and use gentle swiping motions while applying it to the model. Also keep in mind that the paint will stick to the raised areas first.

Y-Wing repaint drybrush weathering

light silver drybrush on right engine

Y-Wing repaint drybrush weathering

left engine is untouched

Painting rust

Now this is were it get’s exciting πŸ˜‰ I always thought that Scum and Villainy was the perfect faction for some really dirty, rusty, battered old junky looking spaceships. You know the ones I’m talking about… they look like they haven’t seen spacecombat in the last century and need a fistbump on the dashboard in order to start their engines. Oftentimes they are customized by countless previous owners and some spicesmugglers would never trade the old souls in for a brand new corvette unless their lives depended on it. In my opinion the best way to achieve that look is to add a nice amount of rusty spots…


The easiest way to achieve this is to take a rusty looking colour (normally you are looking for an orange tone) and apply it carefully in some random spots or spots were rust is likely to occur (e.g. parts that are exposed to water/fluids). A good way to go about this is to use the drybrushing technique as it allows for rougher outlines. I frequently use a special rust colour from the Citadel range called Ryza Rust and combine it with their Nihilakh Oxide to achieve a good corrosion effect. The Nihilakh Oxide adds an extra layer of depth to the rusty exterior and due to its fluidity flows right into the crevices just like a wash.


Another way to add rust to your model is by painting the entire model in your rust colour, seal it with a gloss varnish, then paint over it with your base colour and add all the other details. As your final step you would then scrape of the top layers to reveal the rusty paint underneath. It is quite a long process however and might not be worth the effort for smaller models. I have tried this technique once before on a spare Z-95 Headhunter and although I am pleased with the overal result I think I could have saved a lot of time and effort by applying the rust simply over top of the model. Maybe I will try it again on a large base ship where you can really see the paint chipping off. Just be careful when taking off the paint as you might accidentally also scrape of the rusty paint πŸ˜›

Paint Chipping

Talking about chipping paint πŸ™‚ I found an easy technique online that uses a normal household sponge to apply little patches of paint that make it look just like paint is flaking off your car or metallic fence posts. All you need to do is find a sponge that you can cut into smaller pieces (just big enough that you can still hold it), dip it into your paint and apply it carefully to your model. Make sure you don’t have to much paint on the sponge by trying it on a paper towel first and see what kind of pattern it makes. Otherwise you might ruin your model in a single “dip” πŸ˜›


Black is a the perfect paint to start with as it looks most believable. Experimenting with different sponge sizes and types is a good idea to find the pattern you like. You will already notice a big difference by using either the soft yellow part of the sponge or the hard green part. I prefer the yellow side and will show you the results of it on my YT-2400:

Apart from the fact that it looks really cool on your model this is just such a fun technique to try πŸ™‚



The biggest difference when using these non-paint mediums is that they don’t dry the same way as paint and sometimes come off easily by rubbing or simply being touched. In order to avoid that you have to be very careful while drawing them on and you should always seal your model afterwards. I will be doing an article on sealing with a varnish/finish in the future but for now just keep in mind that a Gloss varnish/finish will make your model look very shiny while a Matte varnish will make it look more natural.

The great things about using a fineliner or pencil is that you can draw straight lines a bit easier and afterwards you can smudge the lines in the desired direction with your fingers. Very useful to create an exhaust effect or speed lines from space debris or even blaster damage. I have used this technique very often myself but I have seen great examples of it being used and it might be especially useful for beginners or painters who are not so steady with their brushes yet.


You can use coloured pencils to achieve a rusty look or maybe an algae growth from the swamp in Dagobah if that just happens to be where you last parked your vehicle πŸ˜‰

Salt Weathering

Ah the salt weathering technique. I haven’t tried this technique myself so I don’t feel confident enough to give advice about it but I felt like I should at least mention it. My simple explanation would be as follows: 1.Apply a rust colour to your entire model. 2.Brush a bit of water on patches you want to appear rusty. 3.Apply salt that will adhere to water. 4.Apply basecoat with Airbrush (also why I can’t really do this technique). 5.Brush off the salt and leave rusty patches exposed. VoilΓ‘, a rusty looking mean machine πŸ˜€ If you have used this technique let me know about it in the comments below.


Ok, I think this covers most of it for now. Personally I have a lot of fun with weathering techniques and I feel like it’s a perfect fit in the Star Wars universe where lots of vehicles, tools and weapons are being used and reused for a very long time. I have by no means covered all techniques on how to paint weathering effects out there and there is so much more that could be discussed but I hope this will give you guys something to start with.

Please let me know what you think about this article in the comments below, I will be happy to hear from you and respond to any questions you might have.


Until then…

May the paint be with you all



  1. That rust looks fantastic, does it look better over a light color or a dark base color?

    • Thanks πŸ™‚ Generally speaking you would either want a complementary colour to really make the rusty bits stand out or if you are going for a more subtle effect you can try to blend it in by choosing a similar tone. It really depends what kind of effect you are looking for.

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