Weathering is a great way to really bring your scale rig to life. There are many ways to add a weathered look to your build, but I chose these seven as they are easy to learn and get results quickly. I’m going to show you how to build the paint up in layers that is then realistically degraded. The finished product looks like damaged paint because it is damaged paint. For this how-to, I’m weathering an RC4WD Gelände II with a Cruiser body. The kit is packed with detail and a great foundation for a realistic weathered look.
Before you begin
No matter what type of final look you’re after, preparing the body for the paint to adhere properly is critical. Prep the body by washing it with dish soap to remove any mold-release agent, fingerprints, dust, or grease that might be on the body parts. To remove unwanted mold lines or seams, use 1500-grit sandpaper. Rinse after sanding to remove any sanding dust that might interfere with the paint.
Step 1: Apply a base coat of “rust”
The first color you put down will be revealed as rusted metal in later steps. Here, I used Tamiya Deep Red for the rust color. Note that the paint is not applied evenly; instead, it’s got thick and thin spots, just like rust would.
Step 2: Cover with primer
Just like a full-size vehicle, the first coat of paint over the “metal” is primer. Here I’ve used Tamiya’s Fine Surface Primer in white, which is great for scale builds as it does not fill up the details molded into the body. As with the “rust” applied earlier, you do not want an even coat. You actually want to have some areas thinner than others and still be able to see some of the “rust” base coat come through.
Step 3: Apply final color
The last coat of spray paint is the final body color—in this case, Tamiya Light Sand. Again, spray sparingly, letting some of the white from the prior coat almost show through. is gives the effect of the paint having been worn away down to the primer. When you’re satisfied with the coverage, allow the body to dry thoroughly. For the next steps to work properly, the paint must be completely dry. Don’t rush it.
Step 4: Chip and sand
Nothing simulates chipped paint better than actual chipped paint. I used a wire brush on all the raised edges to create the effect. Use the lightest pressure to start, pressing harder until you get a feel for it. Don’t worry if you take off all the paint down to the plastic, as we take care of that in the next step. You can also use 1500-grit sandpaper or a sanding stick to expose “rust.” This gives the effect of the paint thinning and the rust starting to show through. If you want to simulate trail wear and tear in addition to weather exposure, you can drag the wire brush across the sides of the body to simulate scratches from tree branches, rocks, and bushes. A wire brush is perfect to damage the paint. Use different pressure and directions all across the body. Focus on raised areas that would be prone to damage.
Step 5: Touch up the rust
If any of your weathering eff orts have exposed bare plastic, add a little more rust using a foam brush. You can use the original rust color, or choose a different shade to create a more mottled effect. I used Tamiya Flat Brown to add more depth to the rust effect. Using a sponge helps the paint appear random and organic just like real rust
Step 6: Bring out detail with a wash
No, we aren’t going to clean the car— actually, the complete opposite. A “wash” is very thin paint that is applied to the body to bring out depth and detail. I use Tamiya Matte Black mixed with Tamiya thinner to make my washes. I like it to be about 10 parts thinner to one part black. Using a large soft brush, apply the wash liberally to a section of the body, then dab it off with a moist sponge or cloth. e wash leaves color around all the details and really brings the model to life. You will see all the chips and scratches suddenly start to stand out, and the model will really begin to feel like it has been well used. Repeat the process until the details are accentuated to your liking.
Step 7: The final touches
To finish off the look, I used a Tamiya Weathering Master kit to add more rust and wear. You will notice I also roughed up the fenders using a rough fi le and 1500 wet and dry to dull the surface. I also used a touch of the Tamiya weathering kit to add small touches of rust to the exposed metal on the fenders. Axial 1.9 Walker Evans wheels and Falken Wildpeak M/T tires complete the build. Silver powder from the Tamiya weathering kit simulates exposed metal on the wheels. Once you have applied the Tamiya powders, be sure to seal them in with a coat of Tamiya matte clear.
Wear It Out!
Follow these seven steps and you will have your scale rig looking used and abused in no time. Practice on old or inexpensive toys and models to perfect your technique. Unlike creating the highly polished look of a car coming fresh off the showroom, you will find that with weathering you can relax and have a little more fun with the painting. Best of all, you can drive a weathered car without fear of damaging all your hard work. In fact, wear and tear from driving adds even more authenticity to your build. Weathered rigs just get better with age! I strongly encourage everyone to give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised by how easy it can be to get great results.