The KVLTWORX Artist Oil Weathering Tutorial

Welcome to the second part of our KVLTWORX painting tutorial. The first part covered using lacquer paints and in this installment, we’ll be using oil paints for weathering.

First, we’ll start off with an optional step before spraying a clear coat on the base paint. If you want some more advanced and high contrast chipping, a small piece of very high grit sandpaper (1500-2000 grit) can be applied to the areas where metallic edging was painted. By removing the white or blue/green color in very small amounts with the sandpaper, the dark metallic color is exposed, creating some nice dark chips. On this model, they especially stand out against the brightness of the white.

Now a clear coat is sprayed on to seal in our paint job. A lacquer or acrylic-based clear coat will create a nice smooth surface that is ready for oil paint weathering, decals, and anything else you wish to apply to the model. The two most readily available clear coats I use are Tamiya X-22 Clear and Testors GlossCote Lacquer. These are typically applied in two very thin coats.

The decals are applied now – our gloss coat gives us a nice smooth surface for the decals to settle down on and any air bubbles are double-checked and smoothed out before continuing. Luckily the decals in the Wave kits are quite thin and flexible and can be applied without too much issue.

For decals on curved surfaces, I usually use some kind of decal softener like Mr. Mark Softer or Solvaset in order to have the decal perfectly conform to the surface. Once the decals are completely dry, another layer of clear coat is applied over the decals in order to protect them from the solvents in the oil paint stage.

For weathering, we’ll use some standard artist oil paints from an art supply store. Cheaper oil paints are fine (I typically use whatever I can get with coupons or is on sale at the time), but a good thinner or medium is key to promote the flow and coverage of the paint. I usually prefer Old Holland (which I am using on this build), but I have received good results with a wide variety of thinner or mediums.

A white spirits or mineral spirits thinner is essential for cleaning our brushes and also removing oil paints from the model in case a certain area needs to be redone. The good thing about using an acrylic or lacquer-based clear coat is that it will not be reactivated by the oil spirits so experimentation, multiple tries and varied approaches can be done. Brush cleaning is also very key when working with oils – oil paints tend to blend very easily (part of why they are so flexible for weathering) but they can easily gunk a brush with undesirable colors if not cleaned thoroughly.

To begin, a filter layer of light brown is mixed up using oil paints and medium. The filter is extremely thin in terms of paint to medium, comparable to the color density of very diluted ink. The brown filter is applied to the white in selected areas to “dirty” up the white and tone down some of the harshest bright white areas. It is also added to select areas of the green/blue camouflage areas however slightly less than the white areas. By adding a color filter, this ties the disparate color temperatures of the white and blue/green together and helps the colors play together.

Oil paints have a very long working time and this can be used to our advantage: after the filter is applied, a large blending brush can be used to help work and move the oil paints on the model. Different colors of filters applied to different areas can be blended together (on a model painted predominantly with a single color, this can add color temperature shifts over the shapes of the model). We can add, remove, blend, and move the oil paints to satisfaction for the entire working time of the paint – on this model, the filter was actually stripped back with spirits and then reapplied on several parts until the desired result was achieved.

When weathering, sometimes limbs or parts can be removed to make handling the model easier – especially with the long working times of oil paint, it’s easy to accidentally leave a fingerprint or smudge if the model is unwieldy to handle. This image shows the results of the filter with the white and blue dirtied up and tied together by the brown tones. Oil paints also tend to dry to a satin finish and will tone down a glossy finish as well.

The intensity of the filter itself can be modified – in the blending stage, some was removed over the red decal to make sure it still pops strongly as a highlight. Conversely, more was dabbed on the lower areas of the torso to indicate that dirt has run down the front of the suit and gathered in certain areas of the armor.

After giving the first layer of oils enough time to dry to a point of safe handling – a rule of thumb I usually follow, all oils are left overnight before the model is handled again – a rust-colored wash is mixed together using oil paints. This wash is mixed to the consistency one would expect a wash: thin and watery with a few drops of spirits added to break the surface tension of the wash.

The rusty wash is added to areas of exposed metal to represent–what else–gathered rust deposits. It can be built up in several layers in order to vary the amount of rust. Here it is added to the exhaust stack, with the logic being that the hot exhaust would melt snow to water that then rusts the exposed metal of the exhaust pipe.

The wash can be added very heavily to the areas we want streaks and “crusted” rust deposits. The heavily rusted areas can always be brought back to “clean” with a brush loaded with spirits to remove areas that have gotten too obscured or flooded.

For rusty streaks, the first step is to flood the area where the streak is desired with a small amount of the rust wash and then wait until the paint is no longer completely wet, but still very workable.

Then with a brush damp with spirits, pull downwards on the spot of rust to create a streak. The key is to use a brush that is only damp with spirits, not fully loaded, in order to mostly pull the color and only remove a small amount at a time rather than a fully loaded brush that will just wash the oil paint off. Continue pulling the streak with the damp brush until there’s a nice gradation and fade in the streak.

The streaking technique can be used for a variety of effects – fuel stains, dirt running down wet surfaces, even salt streaks on aquatic subjects. Here a dark brown color is applied to the joint areas of the suit to give the appearance of oil stains where lubrication has leaked during maintenance.

The oil stains are pulled the same way as the rust streaks with a damp brush. For certain panels, the brush is actually pulled up towards a lip or raised area on the part to create a stain around that panel for the appearance of gathered dirt and grime. We are using oil paint to create oil stains on our model!

After another short break for the oil paints to dry, we can use enamel paints to add pin washes for panel lining and to add overall shade and dimension to the parts. Humbrol enamels are what I had on hand and there are also many pre-mixed washes from companies like Tamiya, AK/Mig, and Vallejo.

For maximum spread and coverage of the enamel paint, you can use spirits to thin it to a wash, or alternately lighter fluid both thins the enamels and gives a great consistency for the kind of capillary action you want a pin wash to have. When thinned with lighter fluid, make sure it does not touch any exposed and unpainted plastic parts (such as clear parts) as it can crack and craze them.

The pin wash, when applied to a flat surface, will naturally slough over to the edges, and the surface tension will cause interesting stain effects occasionally. However, also notice here that the pin wash accidentally caught the raised edge of a decal where it was not properly softened and this will have to be wiped off with thinner and reapplied.

Here the pin wash is used to panel line and darken the seam between the radiator grill and the backpack. The excess wash has gathered on the surface where it hasn’t flowed neatly into the panel line and this can be easily removed with a cotton swab or soft sponge. The pin wash is generally the last layer that is done in my process, however, depending on what you want to achieve, you can continue adding weathering layers until you are satisfied.

The final step, that is not really painting related, but I wanted to add it, is to replace the kit supplied soft vinyl hoses and wires with some coil springs and actual copper wire. I am using the springs Wave themselves make (there are various replacements for tubing and hoses from Kotobukiya, HiQParts, and many others) and just some wire from the hardware store.

The spring hoses are cut to length with a wire cutter nipper – you do not want to use the nipper you use for sprues (especially if you have a high-end pair) as cutting the metal of the spring can quickly dull a blade.

A length of brass rod bent to the shape of the original kit supplied hose is inserted inside the coiled spring. This gives the hose the look of realistic “weight” rather than just allowing the springiness to give it a bouncy, unnatural appearance.

The springs are attached to the model where they plug in per the design and a small drop of CA glue is placed on either end to ensure it stays in place. Using a small pin vise, holes are opened on the back of the legs for the small lengths of insulated wire to be inserted. The original SF3D AFS design had wires on the back of the ankle but they are curiously absent on the modern Wave kits, so this is an easy way to tie the two generations together.

And there we go! The entire kit, after all oil paints have safely been given another overnight to cure, is glued together for final assembly in the pose it is to be displayed in. Clear parts are snapped in and this AFS Polar Bear is ready for its arctic patrol duties. I have made a small scenic base for the kit as well (we can cover this another time).

I hope you enjoyed following along with this tutorial and gained some basic insights into the hand paint weathering process! Thank you so much and have fun modeling!

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