Tutorial: How to Easily Paint Convincing Rust Effects For Your Miniatures

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Let’s start off by being clear: this is a two step tutorial. The first step is to mix pigments with a medium. And no, they’re not hard to find special products from the other side of the planet. You’ll probably be able to find them at a fine art supply store near you or online.  The second step is to apply this mix of pigments and medium to your miniature. That’s it. It sounds simple, and it is. This is one of those painting techniques that is nearly goof-proof, yet yields excellent results.  You can check out the video above and read out the tips below to see how the rust effect is accomplished.

For this rust effect, you need two things: rust-coloured pigments and liquid acrylic matte medium. I picked up mine from the art store, but you might find them at soap making stores or online. Red coloured pigments (particularly red oxide) is remarkably cheap and a little goes a long way.

Warning: pigments are a messy business. A little sprinkle astray can mess up carpets, cover and stain tables, and get all over your clothing. You will definitely want to protect yourself and your working surfaces and contain your pigment use by using a lipped tray or box lid and work with small amounts at a time.

The matte medium acts as a pigment binder, adhering the pigment to the miniature. All you need to do is take a couple drops of matte medium and mix a small amount of pigment into it. I use two shades of pigment so that the rust has some depth in colour, but you can easily only use a single colour. If you do choose to use multiple pigment colours, you can mix your pigments or apply them in layers for depth.

Mix the medium and pigment together. The consistency you want will depend on the results you want. If you want a thin wash of rust, thin it down so it looks like watered down paint, apply it with a brush, and dab off the excess with a cosmetic sponge. If you’d like it to look like built up, textured rust (like that on neglected, junk cars), mix it into a thicker paste and stipple it on with an old brush, letting the pigment not only stain and colour, but also build up texture.

You’ll want to apply it over something that hints at metal, and you can further define the metal edge by painting metal where use would wear off the rusting metal, keeping it shiny and metallic. This technique isn’t specific to weapons though: you can use it for all sorts of things, from rusted terrain pieces to vehicles like tanks and anything else that would be metal.

Optional step: If the rust colour isn’t orange enough, you can mix a little bright orange paint into the pigment mix. Or drybrush some orange onto the rust. It’s really that easy.

Heck, when you combine the salt and hairspray weathering technique with this rust technique, you can even make milk cartons look like painted rusting metal.

Looking to learn more about painting miniatures, be sure to join Will Friedle on The Painter’s Guild this Monday on  Alpha and jump on the miniature painting bandwagon! Share your photos of your painted miniatures on social media using the hashtag #happylittleminis and your minis might be featured here on Geek & Sundry!

Image Credits: Teri Litorco

Teri Litorco is a tabletop game fangirl who makes  YouTube videos about miniature games that include various painting tutorials and helpful tips. To keep up with what she’s playing and painting follow her on  FacebookInstagram, and  Twitter, and help her continue to make accessible painting tutorials by  supporting her on Patreon.

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