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 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 Humbrol, 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 discoloring 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 the part of 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.


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