Monday, 16 May 2016

The aim of the article (indeed this series) is to provide a guide for your own painting process. In no way is this the definitive guide to chipping, weathering or rust effects. If you don't have the exact colours, please substitute them. If you don't like a stage please feel free to skip it. 

In the end my hope is that you take whatever you can and interpret it in a creative way for your own work. 

Step 1

Preparation and conversion

The Contemptor is a little static, so lets change that. First off I assemble the model and fill in the seems with squadron green putty (it’s like liquid green stuff but dries harder and can be sanded smooth). 

Cut the model through the torso and cut his legs at the hips and take his feet. This allows us to play with he pose and balance of the stance. 

I take a simple ear bud cleaner and cut it up to use as piping to support the legs by the hips. Its a cheap and readily available resource for this kind of work. 

At this point I cheat, taking the spare feet from another Contemptor kit. This isn’t a necessary stage as the feet that come with the Contemptor lends itself to many poses. However for full possibility you can’t beat a ball joint. I added a rock to the base to add a bit of height. The base was created by spreading poly filler on the top surface then breaking it up as it dries. I sprinkled some sand onto the base to make it look more natural. 

Step 2 

Undercoat the model black. 

PSI 20. Cover all armoured areas with this.

We want a good all over cover of the the model including any metallic parts. The colour will sink in the the black underneath making it appear much darker than the colour actually is. We’re using the base coat to our advantage to contrast it with the eventual light paint job of the Death Guard. 

Step 3

PSI 20. Zenithal highlight. 

We want a gradual build up of the light brown. We airbrushing we want several layers to build up the transition in light. Think of which panels will receive the most light and which panels you want to draw attention to. You can add more volume to these panels by highlighting them with this stage. 

Step 4

PSI 20. 

This stage really makes this technique sing. If we look at a few pictures of rust we can see a range of colours from an old eroded dark brown to a new bright orange growth. concentrate to the orange on where you think new rust would be (and by new I mean the most recently formed). 

Then we need to use the airbrush to sprinkle random splurges of paint. Instead of using your index finger to control paint flow, use your thumb and roughly draw back on the trigger. Everything you’ve trained yourself not to do, do it here! 

Step 5

Airbrush. PSI 20. Coat the entire model with AK interactive chipping fluid. 

This chipping fluid is a clear, water soluble layer that will help us later in the process with our chipping. The subsequent layers with cover the previous layers completely, but the AK interactive can be activated with warm water then damage the paint. We will actually be chipping the paint for a realistic effect. 

Step 6

Now we’ve carefully built up these wonderful rust layers we’re going to completely paint over them.

Airbrush. Vallejo Model Air Hemp
Airbrush Vallejo Model Air Duck Egg Green
Airbrush Games Workshop Forge World Typhon Ash
Airbrush Medea Com Art White. 

This is the basic recipe I use for all Death Guard Commissions. I start with a base layer of Hemp then work through Duck Egg Green, through Typhon Ash and finally highlighting the armour pure white. I like going up to pure white as I remember the classic Death Guard being all white (same for Deathwing). 

Step 7: Masking.

Learning how to mask effectively can enhance your heresy painting greatly. Having the correct tools is half the job. Get yourself Tamiya masking tape - it cuts smoothly and doesn’t leave a rough tapered edge to your work. Having a sharp line to your masking is essential. 

I masked off the areas like you can see in the photograph and I used:

Airbrush. PSI 15. Vallejo German Green highlighted by adding a touch of Vallejo Hemp. 

Step 8

This is the fun stage. This is what we have been working toward. Take some warm water and put it in the airbrush. Spray a portion of the model (if you want to start chipping on the arm, airbrush warm water on the arm) and let the water settle into the paint. Wait a second or two and allow the chipping fluid to activate. With a stiff bristled brush draw it over the the area covered in water. after several successive passes with the brush you should notice the white layers starting to peel away. 

Do not oversaturate the armour with water. Work in thin, patient layers to build the effect. Try varying the chips with harder bristles, or a bit of plastic to represent a bullet ricochet. And have fun with it. This technique is unlike any other you will use. 

Step 9 - Metallics

As you can see in my enthusiasm I have shot ahead before taking a photograph of the previous layer. I use a paint brush for these layers. 

The bronze is Forge World’s Bronze (NAME) and the silver is Vallejo Silver mixed with a touch of Vallejo green ink (around 85;15 in favour of the silver). 

The golden legend across the dreadnoughts chest  was first painted with Forge World’s Bronze then highlighted with Games Workshop’s Ghenna Gold, highlighted again with Liberator gold with a final highlight of Vallejo Air silver. 

Step 10 - Oil Paint

This is a subject in itself and needs several articles on technique. This is a very brief overview of how I used oil paints with this piece. 

When buying oil paint buy artists grade. I know the natural inclination is to be hesitant and start with a cheaper brand and smaller bottle but just straight in and buy this:

I use this on nearly every commission and I am no where near running out. A bottle should last you a life time. Buy yourself a palette to mix the paints and artists turpentine. It’s not as aggressive a solvent and won’t stink out your house half as much. To prepare the oil take some kitchen roll and add a blob to it. The kitchen roll will absorb any excess oil in the paint. Then add this to a palette and mix with artists turpentine to create a nice paint consistency (about the same as milk ). 

Oil paints is an incredibly versatile medium that lends itself to many techniques. For our purposes we will be concentrating on pin washing*, oil stains and realistic rust. 

*Pin washing - Airbrushing can leave the surface of a model look rather uniform. To reinforce the lines of the miniature we need to paint in the deepest recesses (in between armour plates for example), the easiest way being a pin wash. By running artists turpentine into the recess then adding oil paint thinned with turpentine we create the shadows. 

Oil Stains. This is another fun messy technique that makes me feel like a child in art class at school. Take a short bristled brush (if you don’t have one, take an old worn out paint brush and cut it), add some oil paint directly from the kitchen roll and spatter it onto your dreadnought. The more random the spatter pattern is, the better. Allow this to cure for around 8 hours. Take a clean, flat head brush and dampen it with pure artists turpentine, then run it vertically, dragging from the highest point to the ‘floor’ of the model. The oil paint should streak leaving very convincing oil stains. 

Looking at the model we can see the underlying layer of rust (steps 14-22) We need ‘halo’ these paint chips with our prepared burnt umber mixture. We want a transparent layer to create the effect of the rust corrupting the surrounding layer of paint. 

At this point I use Lamp Black (oil paint) mixed with Burnt Umber to wash all the silver metallics. I allow this to dry for around 24-48 hours before I use a ear bud soaked with turpentine and remove excess oil paint. I do this lightly over the top surfaces naturally leaving the wash in the recess. 

To pin wash simply run a little artists turpentine into the gaps you wish the oil to run into. We are creating a track for the oil to run along. Take some of our turpentine/ oil wash mixture and place it in the gap, it should fill it with paint. Don’t worry if there is any overspill as we can correct any mistakes with clear turpentine. 


No, you can use oil paints directly on an acrylic surface without the worry of destroying the paintwork. I couldn’t believe it either when I first tried this - don’t take my word for it - try it on an old model to see for yourself. The reason why many people varnish their models before adding the oil washes is to break the surface tension of the area, allowing the pin wash to be used more effectively. Essentially, oil’s run into the gaps easier if you add a layer of varnish beforehand. 

Varnishing models can change the tone of the colours used up until this point (red for me tends to loose contrast), so having the option to use oil paints without the varnish layer allows us greater freedom with our final result. 

Step 11 -  Weathering Powders. 

Again, the application of weathering powders could be a sizeable article in itself. For our purposes we will only be using dry pigments on the dreadnought itself. 

I use the pro pigment line of weathering powder, but any kind will do (MIG does an excellent range of weathering powders). We will be using Burnt Sienna  and red oxide. 

To use the pigments place a little of the powder onto a palette (I use a cardboard box for this as it gets messy). Using a soft bristled flat nosed brush dab it into the powder then knock off any excess. 

Use the brush as if you were dry brushing the white potions of the armour. We want to catch the very highest points of the white armour to simulate rust just starting to peaking through the paint. Don’t worry if the first time you do this there is no noticeable difference. We want to work in layers - keep building the layers until you are satisfied with the results. 

The next use of the powders will be reinforcing the rust marks we made with the oils and chipping. Pack the brush with burnt sienna powder and work it into the deepest recesses of the armour joints (look at the bottom of his legs picture 35). Take a different brush and ease the transition by passing it over the armour, rubbing the powder into the model and brushing off excess. By using the new brush we are creating a more realistic transition. 

Finally we want to create some texture. by packing the brush again concentrate on creating lumps on the heavily powders parts of the rust. This is a more focussed weathering technique so using a smaller brush here will help. Look at the torso of picture 38 for reference. 

Step 12- Scorching.

Airbrush. PSI 15. Mig Heavy chipping fluid. 

Airbrush this onto the multi melts and the base of the right pauldron. In fact spray anywhere you think the backdraft of heat would scorch the metal and paintwork of the miniature. Allow to dry completely. 

Airbrush. PSI 15. Humbrol Matt Black Enamel paint thinned with Humbrol Enamel Thinner (30;70). 

Enamels paints are used in much the same way as oil. You cannot thin them with water and have a much slower drying time. We can work for longer with enamel paints but be warned, they give off a pretty powerful odour. 

Spray the enamels over the surfaces that were coated with the heavy chipping fluid. Allow the enamels to dry completely (this should take around half and hour to 45 minutes).

The heavy chipping fluid works in the same way as hairspray but more paint comes away once you activate it. Use a flat nosed brush and dampen it in warm water. We don’t want to load the brush with water. Our aim is to work in consecutive layers to build up the effect. draw the brush over the black areas and you should see flecks of paint chip away. 


And that's it! That was quite a mammoth article for me to write and has only spawned more tutorial ideas. I would like to really focus in on some of the more advanced techniques. If you liked this and would like to see more content like this I need your support - there are three ways to do this: 

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Paints used: Vallejo, Reaper Master Series, Games Workshop Washes, Com Art Medea Airbrush Airbrush: Iwata Hi-Line HP-CH Airbrush Paint Brushes: Rosemary & Co. Raphael 8040, Broken Toad Brushes, Windsor and Newton Series 7


  1. Very interesting tutorial.
    Thank you.

  2. This doesnt show up in your tutorial section and your iron warriors link no longer works.