Weathering with pigments.

This is the third of my weathering stages after chipping and using oil paints. This and oils are my favourite stages in this process but they all work as a whole. Also before i go any further i just want to say that these are my preferred methods of application, there are other ways of doing what i do but i just find these easier so experiment as this will yield better results if you are comfy with the techniques you use.

First you will need a large tank brush or similar, a medium/large regular brush, a mixing pot, pigment fixer, airbrush and of course your pigments.

The key thing to take from all of these techniques is that on their own they are very simple, but combining them will give your surfaces a lot of subtle tonal differences and make flat surfaces more interesting. This will instantly take your painting to a new level.

I use Mig pigments but any brand, even crushed chalk can work.

1. This gets messy so don’t wear your Sunday best and protect your work area as it may stain a future paint job. You take your large tank brush and I took the darker of the two pigments i’m using (industrial city dirt). Put a some on your brush, knocking off any excess onto a paper towel or similar and apply to the area you want dusted up.  If the effect is too strong you can rub it off to a point but this stuff will stain the model, not in a bad way but it will be very difficult to fully remove from here in so make sure are certain before you apply.

You can see to the left of the brush is where the pigment is building up and that there is none to the right.  Again less is more.  If you want a heavier dusty effect just add more pigment.

Dust and dirt also likes to settle in recess’ and again this adds interest.

2. Once you are happy that you can do the exact same with a different coloured pigment.  This needs to be different enough from the fist colour but must fit the situation the model is in. For instance you wouldn’t put European earth on first and then gulf sand.

Apply the second pigment but less so and randomly in areas you have already applies pigment. this is where less being more starts to pay off as a lot is now going on on the model now.

You can see i have put just one smudge of the lighter pigment at the bottom of the column to the left of the door.  Its not much but it does enough to eliminate any flat looking areas.

3. Now  load your airbrush up with the pigment fixer, i use Mig’s offering but rubbing alcohol will do. Now spray over the areas you have applies pigment to, doing 2-3 GENTLE passes.  I say this because on flat armour i have found that if you apply the fixative with a brush you either move the pigment if you are not careful or you leave a tide mark with the alcohol if capillary action is relied upon.   Application with a brush is still fine on the rougher surfaces and bases but i do this to make sure i avoid screw ups.

You can leave your model like this or you can move onto stage 4.


4.  This stage will deal with the mud splash effects.  First up you will need a mixing pot that you will put some of your first pigment colour in and you add a little pigment fixer to it until you get a sludge. Not as thick as a paste but not watery either. This mix as you will find the more you do this, will change the splash patterns you will get, so experimentation and practice are the names of the game again. 

5. Things you need to think about are where you need to apply the splashes and direction of travel as this is a vehicle. To imply forward motion i want the splashes to flow upwards from the tanks impact  into puddles and from front to rear for its direction of travel.  For this model i chose a diagonal front to back direction of travel.  Take your old brush and get a good amount of your pigment mix on it. Positioning is everything now, you have to become the muddy puddle and hold your brush with the pigment on in front of the splash point. With your other hand you take your empty airbrush and blow air through the brush. this will splash your pigment mix onto your model hopefully in a realistic fashion.

Please practice this on scraps of paper until you are confident doing this.  You may find yourself contorting and propping the model in all sorts of positions to get this right. At first you may not see the mud. Don’t just splash more on, let it dry and wait for the mud to appear.

Once dry your final result will become apparent. Just keep the less is more mantra going.

5. Lastly repeat again with the last lighter pigment you used. Tonal difference is the name of the game with weathering.  I’m not the best at painting by a long shot, but a combination of smart techniques can boost your models looks no end.


Again i hope this helps you to achieve the look you are after.  Apply it to your troops as well if they have been in the field a while.   Flyers are slightly different but i will deal with them in another tutorial.


My name is Joel and I am the other half of Fifty Shades of Wray. I started this hobby with Airfix kits over 20 years ago, painting any military models I could get my hands on. Then I discovered 40k and my sci fi addiction spiraled out of control. I now put my military modelling knowledge to better use on Rhinos and Landraiders!!

  • Noise Marine

    I love your tutorial. Just in time I had bought my own Land Raider for Noise Marines 🙂

  • Nathaniel Birdsall

    im creating a post heresy Death Guard army. i will take all of these tutorials on weathering with me to the grave. Im assuming just go a bit heavier on these 4 techniques for a bit more “nurgley” (?) If youre interested I’ll send pix of my rhino, it’ll be done in a week’s time or so.

    • Dangermouse425

      How’d the Rhino go, Nathaniel?

      – Ares

  • Talarius

    Wow, this is the tutorial I was looking for. I’ve owned pigments for a few years now and have only just started trying to use them. The techniques you show here are exactly what I needed. THANK YOU!!!