Basic Weathering for Hardbodies, a "How-to" by Oliver Barber
In this guide, I will be running through the steps to creating a simple weathered finish for a hardbody. This is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to achieving a nice “old” finish without investing in expensive equipment such as an airbrush and compressor.
What you’ll need
Body to weather
- Base colour (rust)
- Main paint colour
- Clear coat (flat or semi-gloss)
Kosher salt (NOT regular table salt)
Paintbrush + toothbrush
Dark wash for model vehicles (Vallejo, AK Interactive or similar brands are all good)
Optional – Rust-coloured wash for model vehicles
Paint the body a rusty colour, and allow it to dry for at least a day or two. I used two different shades of brown, one sprayed partially over the other, so as to get a greater depth of colour once the chipping progress started.
Once you are sure that the basecoat of rust-coloured paint has fully dried, it is time to apply the salt. Using a paintbrush, wet the areas that you wish to weather with water and sprinkle on salt by hand.
For areas where you only want a few salt crystals, you can dab the damp paintbrush onto a pile of salt and touch it to the surface you wish to apply it to.
Note: It is important to use kosher salt due to the irregular shape of the granules; regular salt is all the same shape (tiny cubes) and will not lead to as natural of a finished look.
Let the salt dry for a few hours, then paint the body in your desired final colour. Be careful to not apply too thick of a coat of paint, or it will be difficult to get rid of the salt later.
Once a few hours have passed (I waited about 6) and the paint is not tacky to the touch, it is time to remove the salt. Dip a stiff-bristled paintbrush or toothbrush in water, and begin rubbing on the salt to remove it. Continue re-moistening the brush as you go.
In my case, as there was so much salt to remove (I was going for a much more heavily-weathered look than you’d usually see on a vehicle such as a hilux) I submerged the bed in water for 20 minutes to help speed up the dissolving of the salt before scraping the remaining salt off.
Once you are confident that you have removed all of the salt, let everything dry for several hours. Using a soft paintbrush, apply the wash to the entire body, making sure that it gets into any body lines and detail areas that are on the body. Be sure to also use the appropriate brushing motion for the surface; downward strokes for vertical areas, swirling the brush around on flat surfaces, etc. as any faint lines left by the paintbrush will add to the effect.
In my case, I also used some rust-coloured wash in spots as I had it lying around, but you can achieve a perfectly good finished product without this.
After letting the dark wash dry for a while (until it stops off-gassing and you can’t smell it), you will want to add a clearcoat over everything; if not, the washes will come off as soon as the body gets wet again. Both flat clear and semi-gloss clear work well depending on the look you’re going for; be sure to test the finish on a scrap piece of material before coating the body.