Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Weathering - Sponge Chipping

Greetings and salutations plamo nerds! One of the final steps in the Boros build was some minor weathering to make it look fairly used, and to match the wreckage base I prepared for it. I snapped some pics along the way so I could share my preferred paint chipping technique - the tried and tested sponge method - which is easy to do and can give great results if you really put your heart into it!

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First, a short list of what you'll need:

1. Gloss topcoat
2. An unused dish-washing sponge, cheapest kind will work
3. Enamel paint for chipping (I'm using flat brown)
4. Lighter fluid
5. Paint dish
6. Paper towel and Cotton swabs for cleanup

Start by giving the kit a nice gloss coat to preserve the base paint layer, decals and panel lines. Once the clear coat is cured, you can proceed with the chipping process. Rip off a small section of the sponge, just enough to pinch with your index finger and thumb. Put a small amount of your Enamel paint onto the paint dish, and thin it very slightly so it is still quite sticky but not clumpy.

Take your sponge and gently pick up some paint with one corner, but do not press it down so it does not soak up too much. If the sponge seems too wet, dab it onto a paper towel. You may want to do some test runs on a plastic spoon to get an idea of how much paint should be on the sponge to achieve the desired effect. When you are satisfied with the look, load up the sponge again and apply it onto the kit. Dab the sponge against the part, coming at it from different angles to make the chips look more random.

You can adjust the size of the paint chips by adjusting pressure - pressing harder results in larger chips, while lighter pressure produces smaller, scattered patterns. Reload the sponge every 3-5 dabs so the paint doesn't dry up. If the paint on the sponge is already dry, just use a new section of the sponge. Working in sub assemblies makes the parts more manageable and gives you a good idea of how the chipping will look overall when the model is reassembled. It's also a good idea to plan your chipping based on how the mecha is used. In this example I imagine the spikes get used for shoulder-tackles quite often, so some significant paint damage would make sense around those areas. Chipping is also more likely to occur on areas that come into contact often, like armor around the joints, the feet and any protruding edges and corners.

Since we're using enamel, it's easy to clean up any wayward chips with cotton swabs and lighter fluid. If done properly, the paint chips should look pretty good at this point, but if you want to add more realism you can opt to do some highlighting around the edges of the chips to simulate paint gradually peeling or fading off. To do this, you'll need acrylic paint designed for hand brushing, such as those used for tabletop miniatures. The shade should be much lighter than your base color.

In this example, I applied some Vallejo model color light orange, carefully tracing around the paint chips (highlighted green in the image below) on red sections with a very fine tipped brush. The result is subtle but convincing, especially around larger chips.

I also applied the same paint to most of the edges on the red parts (a miniature modeling technique called edge-highlighting) to simulate fading paint. It may look a bit odd due to the different gloss levels of the paints used, but a layer of flat clear should bring it all together.

It's a pretty time consuming approach compared to other chipping methods like the salt and hairspray technique, but I like the degree of control with a sponge, and cleaning up any excessive chipping is much easier.

Feel free to share your own weathering process in the comments section. Until next time, keep building plamo!

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