There are many ways in which to create rust effects in miniature.
You can ink, paint, dry brush, use weathering powders etc, etc.
At this point I would like to add about the use of corrosives and chemicals to achieve rust effects: stay
away from them! Dangerous and pointless; and not even half as much fun or satisfaction as doing it
the old fashioned way.

Anyway, without further ado, let’s get painting…

Source material

It’s always good to have some source material if you are trying to re-create something that exists in
real life, be it lizard skin, camo or fabric. The internet is a good place for this these days. However, if
you’re not up with the new fangled “electro-inter-web” then you can go to a place called the library
and look in books?

Know your corrosion

Rust is scientifically called oxidation, which occurs when oxygen comes into prolonged contact with
certain metals. Over time, the oxygen combines with the metal at an atomic level, forming a new
compound called an oxide and weakening the bonds of the metal itself. If the base metal is iron or
steel, the resulting rust is properly called iron oxide and is normally orange in colour. Rusted
aluminium would be called aluminium oxide, copper forms copper oxide which is greenish, and so on.
The main catalyst for the rusting process is dihydrogen oxide, but we know it better as water. Water
molecules can easily penetrate the microscopic pits and cracks in any exposed metal. The hydrogen
atoms present in water can combine with other elements to form acids, which will eventually cause
more metal to be exposed. If sodium is present, as is the case with saltwater, corrosion will likely
occur more quickly.

So, if you’re painting pirates and things in sea water add more rust.

List of colours
Listed below, in the order in which you will need to paint them, is the list of colours you’ll need to paint
rust onto different metals. I will be showing you the iron oxide paint scheme in this tutorial, however
the same technique is applied for all the types of metal.

Iron Oxide

Dark metallic paint. (Dry brush)
Chestnut ink. (Ink wash)
Bright silver paint. (Dry brush)
Terracotta paint. (Watered down paint wash)
And a mid shade of orange. (Watered down paint wash)

Aluminium Oxide

Dark metallic paint. (Dry brush)
Mid metallic paint. (Dry brush)
Black ink. (Ink wash)
Bright silver paint. (Dry brush)
White paint. (Watered down paint wash)

Copper Oxide

Dark brass metallic paint. (Dry brush)
Mid gold metallic paint. (Dry brush)
Green ink. (Ink wash)
Turquoise paint.  (Watered down paint wash)
Light green paint. (Watered down paint wash)


This is a simple technique and, as stated before, just follow these same steps for each type of metal,
replacing the change of colour as appropriate.

Working from a black undercoat you can either dry brush or simply paint on your base colour. In this
case a dark metallic.

Once you have enough coverage allow to dry.
Slap on some neat ink. No water just plain ink straight from the pot.
Apply it to areas where rust would likely start and grow, such as areas where joins are and around bolt
heads and hinges.

These areas hold water more than the flat surfaces and are more prone to rust.
Once completely dry we then add a second dry brush of bright silver paint. This is to just tease back
the edges we may have lost while inking.

Now we add terracotta as a base for our rust. Add two parts water to one part paint and apply again to
the areas where the rust will be most prolific. You can stipple this colour onto flat surfaces to simulate
light rust that hasn’t taken hold yet.

The last step is to water down some mid-orange paint, again two parts paint to one part water.
Paint this over the terracotta, allowing some of the original colour to remain visible at the edges.

Allow to dry and bingo! You’re done!

I hope you find this useful? It’s fun and easy to do and a great way to mess up all your metalwork.

Keep on painting!

Paul Batchelor.