How to make your own weathering powders using kids chalks

Looking for a quick, effective and cheap way to make weathering powders? It’s your lucky day. 

Pigment and weathering powders add texture to matt effects such as rust, dirt and corrosion. If you’re looking for an authentic finish for your trains, buildings, and models they’re pretty much essential but at £5 to £10 for a small bottle, they’re anything cheap.

These handy tutorials show you how to make your own, and using soft artists or children’s pastels they’re a lot cheaper.

And just for good measure, here’s a great video from Humbrol on mixing and using their weathering powders.

My experiences

As a footnote to this, I should point out my experiences and what I’ve learned from making my own powders.

Firstly, chalks and pastels can come close to commercial weathering powders but while good enough for many models if you’re a perfectionist you’re probably better off with the commercial products from Secret Weapon Miniatures and AK Interactive etc.

Secondly, no matter which weather powder you use it will need fixing in place.

By their nature, powders just sit on top of the existing paintwork and unless fixed they’ll come off unless fixed. The problem is that I’ve yet to find an easy-to-apply setting agent that doesn’t also change the prized colour and texture that the powders create.

Many people recommend using an alcohol wash to hold the powder before spraying but this didn’t work for me, with the powder either discolouring or washing away.

After some experimentation, the best I’ve come up with is to apply the powder as the last coat of paint is just about dry (when it’s tacky, not wet) to hold them in place and then use a fine hairspray from a long distance once the paint is fully dry.  Even so, the pressure of the spray is more than enough to scatter the powders if too close. A spray booth is really needed here! The colours can still change and it’s very much an experiment-and-see exercise to find the distance to spray from but it does fix the powders in place.

Lastly, have fun.

Maybe it’s just me but adding pigments and weathering powders really bring models — particularly vehicles (are there any vehicles other than trains?) — and metal surfaces to life and it’s part of the painting I enjoy most.

Probably the best tip is to experiment with these DIY powders and if you get on with them move up to the commercial variants when you have the money spare.

If you enjoyed this, talk a look at this article on how to weather trains with chalks.


Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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