Weathering Imperial Fists Tanks

I thought I would do a tutorial on how I weather the tanks for the Imperial Fists. Although the example here is with an Imperial Fists vindicator, the overall technique should apply to a wide range of vehicles and colour schemes. These techniques are mostly adapted from ideas given in the Forge World Modelling Masterclass books 1 and 2.

The fist step is to start with a ‘factory fresh’ tank. I finish all the detail work and apply any transfers I’m going to use before I start weathering. The only exception is lenses, which I finish once the weathering is complete so I don’t dirty or take the sheen off the lenses. Note that the Vindicator’s siege shield was weathered using a different technique, for which a tutorial can be found here.

'Factory Fresh' vindicator

‘Factory Fresh’ vindicator

For the initial stages of the weathering I use a piece of sponge or sponge-like material. In this case I’m using off-cut pieces of foam taken from a foam transport tray for models. These have the advantage or already being a convenient size for working with.

Foam used for sponging on the damage

Foam used for sponging on the damage

I start the weathering by sponging on a 50/50 mix of rhinox hide and abbadon black. Focus on the edges of the panels, and the areas that would naturally be exposed to wear and tear. Chipping along the edges of the panels also helps define the different segments of the tank’s armour.

Chipping around the armour panels using a sponge

Chipping around the armour panels using a sponge

It is important to decide early on in the process just how much weathering you want to apply to your models. Personally I find that it is extremely easy to over weather my tanks, making them look a lot dirtier than I had originally intended. For this army I’m going for a level of weathering that gives the feel of fighting in an intense campaign, but not so much as to suggest the crew are neglecting their vehicles. 

First stage of chipping complete

First stage of chipping complete

The next stage is to sponge on a mix of flash gitz yellow and white scar. This is done to represent areas were the hull has been lightly damaged, which cause it to reflect light at different angles to the rest of the armour. For this step I focus on the middle of panels, and on lower sections of the hull.

Second stage of chipping complete

Second stage of chipping complete

On these tanks I’m using a large amount of soot and carbon around the exhausts. This is partly because I like the look, and partly because I want the tanks to have some black on them to match the rest of the army. I figure soot is a good way to do this. I’ll go over this with weathering powders later, but for the mean time I’ve just stippled on some abaddon black over the exhausts.

Adding carbon scoring around the exhausts

Adding carbon scoring around the exhausts

The next step is to add a layer of weathering using burnt umber oil paint. Oil paints are great because you can continue working the paint for a long period of time, easily for ten to fifteen minutes and often a lot longer. Oil paints can also be very cheap; the paint I used coast about $2.50 at a local art store. You’ll also need some white spirits and some gloss varnish.

The first step in using the oil paints is to spray the model with a gloss varnish. This is primarily to help the paint move along the glossy surface and along the groves and edges of the armour panels. I use two main techniques when using the oil paints. The first is to dilute the paint into a wash using white spirits and apply this along the edges of the armour. This gives the appearance of the build up of grim around the panels as well as helping to define them on the model. The second technique is to use the paint more thickly, applying streaks of it coming down from the various rivets and protruding points on the armour. Once these have been applied I use a brush with clean white spirits and ‘work’ the paint, thinning it down and wiping it away from where I don’t wont it. It is difficult to describe, but the combination of the gloss varnish and the slow drying of the oil paint lets you almost ‘sculpt’ the paint into where you want it. It is a very versatile method. One thing to be careful of however is not to hold the model on places you’ve already applied the oil paints too as your fingers will probably rub the oil paint off.

Further weathering using burnt umbra oil paint

Further weathering using burnt umbra oil paint

The final step is the weathering powders. I mainly use Forge World fresh and aged rust, as well as black soot, however you would obviously change these depending on the overall effect your aiming for. Make sure you wait until the oil paints are completely dry, then dust the weathering powders on using a dry brush. You can also mix them with white spirits in a paste/paint-like mix, which will give a different effect (it works well for wet mud in particular). I dust the rust powders on the lower edges of the tank, using more of the fresh rust then the aged rust. Finally, I used the black soot over the exhausts. A good tip here is to hold the tank upside down so the excess black weathering powder falls away from the tank, rather than causing streaks or discoloration where it’s not supposed to.

I also applied a wash of rust and dirt coloured powders, mixed with white spirits, over the tank tracks. Once all of this is dry, spray the model with a matt varnish to seal the powders and oil paints, and take away the sheen of the gloss varnish. And there you have it, all done!

The final stage of weathering is the application of weathering powders

The final stage of weathering is the application of weathering powders

Front view of the finished Vindicator

Front view of the finished Vindicator

Rear view of the completed Vindicator

Rear view of the completed Vindicator

Hope that was helpful for people and if you have any questions, send me a message or leave a comment below.

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4 Responses to Weathering Imperial Fists Tanks

  1. Pingback: Hair Spray Weathering | Rusty's Workshop

  2. Pingback: Airbrushing Imperial Fists Tanks | Rusty's Workshop

  3. Sam says:

    Hi, Love the tutorial and [plan to use it on my Fists. One question you state “burnt umber oil paint” i had a quick look and there seem to be a lot of different colors/shades that are classed as burnt umber, was there a specific make/shade/color you used? Thanks.

  4. rustymagos says:

    Hey Sam, sorry for late response (my email is weird and sometimes doesn’t notify me when people leave comments).
    I just used a cheap, $2 burnt umber oil paint from my local art supply store. The brand was Art Culture. At a guess though, most shades of burnt umber should work with the colour scheme. I’d suggest having an experiment and seeing what works. The great thing about oil paints is they stay workable for a long period of time. If you’ve used a varnish, there should be no reason why you couldn’t try out one of the paints, and if you’re not happy with it, you should have plenty of time to remove the oils with white spirits before they dry.
    Hope that helps and good luck with your project!

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