Rust or not 2 Rust – Pt1

Not exactly Shakespeare, but a valid question nonetheless. Rust gets everywhere, eventually, so it will appear on anything that can be modelled.

Some of you may have noticed my interest in this field of modelling recently and the attempts I have made to rust a few cars, and the odd tank, so I thought I’d give a little tutorial on it which some of you may find interesting or might inspire you to have a go.

So where do you start? Like any modelling project it goes without saying, choice a subject, something that floats your boat and or, that will look good with a bit or a lot of rust on it. I have chosen cars as they are known for being potential rust buckets. I especially like 50s & 60s America cars, they are so big and the potential for rusting is huge, also the internet is awash with images of these classics in various stages of rust and dereliction so getting reference material is pretty easy.

Ok you have chosen your subject, and collected reference material on the subject and you have an idea forming as to the setting it will be in, Junkyard, side of the road etc. – so what’s next? Depending on the amount of rusting or dereliction you want on the model. If it’s a slightly rusted look you want then you can get straight on to the build. If on the other hand you want damage and rusted through then get out your trusty Drimmel and start some destruction. The best way I have found to create the appearance of rusted through panels, is to thin the plastic behind the area to be rusted then come in from the other side, this way you get a more natural look, and any melting of the plastic is in areas that are not seen on the model.

Rusting cars is great as 90% of the rust is on the body, so you can quickly get a model built in a day and primed and ready for the next day’s painting or rusting. If you want to show it with the bonnet up or off then some work on the engine is need. Talking of the engine, modelling a derelict long forgotten car you don’t have to worry about aftermarket photo etch and resin kits to make the engine look real. Because, the engine would have had items stripped from it in real life, so cables, manifold covers, battery, anything that can be reused will have gone, in some cases the engine itself.

Rust or nor 2 Rust – Pt2

Right, you have your kit made, added some destruction and its primed and ready to go, now what?
For this article I will take you through my project, a 1955 Chrysler C300 by Moebius.

In the modelling world this has been an eagerly await kit. The box is stuffed with bits of plastic sealed in plastics bags, instruction sheet, decals and a reproduction sales brochure, which is nice. Pretty much what you would expect from a model kit.

The build was straight forward; some cleaning up to be done with flash lines, fit is good so there should be no surprises when it all goes together at the end. I have left the engine out to paint and weather before fitting, had a few dry runs to make sure I could do this. On this model I will have the bonnet open so a bit of time spent on the engine at this stage is worth it.

Engine Before Weathering Engine Before Weathering

Interior painted and assembled. Haven’t done too much detail painting of the interior as the windows will be dusted with grime so you wouldn’t be able to see too much of what’s inside – I might do a bit of weathering of the seats and put some rubbish inside.

Interior before weathering

The body of the car will be a combination of rust and faded paint with no rust damage, so no need to take the Drimmel to it.

I primed the model with Vallejo Grey Surface Primer via my trusty airbrush. I like this primer as it dries very quickly and is hard in about an hour ready for the base coat of rust.

For the rust colours I use LifeColour’s Rust and Dust set. This set includes:

  • UA 701 Rust Dark Shadow
  • UA 702 Rust Base Colour
  • UA 703 Rust Light Shadow 1
  • UA 704 Rust Light shadow 2
  • UA 705 Dust Type 1
  • UA 706 Dust Type 2

Rust or not 2 Rust – Pt3

First of all I sprayed several thin coats of the Rust Base colour, and then sprayed on patches of Rust Light Shadow 1 & 2 onto areas of the car to give a patchy feel to the rust; I then sprayed Rust Dark Shadow into recessed areas on the car.

You can see the areas of light and dark on the Base Coat in the pictures above. The body will get a coat of Vallejo “Ice Yellow White” for the body colour.

Rust Base Colour Rust Base Colour


Ok, the rusting process, this is where the fun begins. There are several techniques you can use, some of you who model armour will have heard of some of these and may have used them…

  • Salt
  • Hairspray
  • Colour Modulation

There are products that reproduce the hairspray technique in a bottle, for example Vallejo’s Chipping Medium which can be airbrushed onto specific areas of the model to be chipped/faded, once dry apply a coat of the body colour. Let this dry then using a cocktail stick and a stiff brush dipped in warm water, carefully remove the top coat of paint from the areas the Chipping Medium was applied.

Example of weatheringI have listed the Colour Modulation technique, but it’s not one I shall be using as I feel it’s a bit arty and too much work to achieve an affect that can be easy created with washes.

For this article I will be using the Salt Technique. I have never used this technique before so it will be fun to learn together. I have used the Hairspray and the Vallejo method in the past, but felt the effect I want on this model would be a best archived using the Salt method. Something like the image on the left.

Rust or not 2 Rust – Pt4

The Salt method:

First step is to apply a couple coats of your favourite matt varnish to seal the model so that the water and salt does not remove the base/rust paint work you have already applied. Allow this to dry thoroughly. Lightly spray water over the model; I used my airbrush for this. Sprinkle the salt over the model in onto the areas that you want the rust to appear. I used Rock Salt and Table salt for this. The Rock Salt will give you a single large area of rust and the table salt gives you the effect of individual scratches also large areas of fading/rust.

I could have applied more salt to the bottom of the car but as this is a test I will do better next time.

As you can see I have a mixture of Rock & Table salt, again more salt would have been better, but I was able to correct this latter on whilst painting.

Allow the water and salt to dry, best to give it 24 hours. You can speed up the drying time by using a hairdryer set on cold and at a low speed. Also best to hold the dry as far away from the car as possible, you don’t want to blow the salt off.

Once it had dried I sprayed several thin coats of the body colour over the car. Again make sure you do not blow the salt off as the wet paint will make the salt come lose. I set the air compressor to between 5-10 psi. Once the salt was cover I turned up the pressure and applied additional coats.

The body colour isn’t that yellow in real life.

Rust or not 2 Rust – Pt5

The Salt method: Continued..

Once everything had dried overnight I carefully removed the salt using a soft brush and my finger to rub the salt off. If you make a mistake here you can always overspray again with the rust colour and add some more salt and repeat the above process.

The effect was not bad for a first attempt but I wanted a bit more rust showing through. I knew I could fix this during the painting and weathering stages so wasn’t too worried.

At this stage in the proceedings I started to think about the setting for the car, I didn’t want to overpower the car with too much detail in the setting, like with the Revell 1/24 Scale Mercedes-Benz I did recently…

I think this diorama called for it but not the Chrysler, I want the car to be the focus. So I have gone for a corner of a barn, no tarps or anything large to take away from the car. I might have the odd item hanging from the walls – less is more as they say.

The base is from a local Model shop, I covered an area in a thin layer of clay for the floor of the barn. The barn is made from balsa wood, primed with Games Workshop Chaos Black, then airbrushed with Vallejo white, left it for 10 minutes until it was touch dry then applied Andrea Brown ink diluted with water. This allows the white to show through the brown as fading/dust.

That’s the base done, a little bit of set dressing required, some straw on the floor and that’s it.

Rust or not 2 Rust – Pt6


I got too carried away with the rusting process and forgot to take images at the different stages, but here is a breakdown of the process I employed…

Here are a few images I hope will help with explaining this process.

First stage is to lay down some Base Colour; whilst this is still wet I applied various splodges of Light Shadow 1 & 2 in a random fashion around the edges of the base colour. With the base colour still wet I was able to achieve a faded/blended look.

I repeated this on other areas of the model until I was satisfied with the result. Once the paint had dried I applied some light dusting of MIG Light & Dark Rust pigments, blending them in using my finger and a cotton bud. Using the residue of pigment on the cotton bud, I ran this around the chrome to give it a look of rust stating to come through the chrome.

Rust or not 2 Rust – Pt7

Barn Base Finished

As I said earlier I decided not to put too much into the base as the car would be the vocal point. I painted onto the base a mixture of white paint, water down and added some Vallejo “English Uniform” to add a brown colour to it. Once this had gone tacky I sprinkled horse hair cut into short lengths over it to simulate straw.

I then gave it a light spray of water down scatter grip, over this I scattered on some more horse hair.

Once the glue had dried I sprayed several light coats of Vallejo “English Uniform” and “Iraqi Sand” to give the straw a more dried old/dusty look.

The base is now ready for the car. Once I had finished the rusting with Mig Pigments Old, Standard & Light Rust I sprayed several light coats of Vallejo “Satin Varnish” over the car.

Once this had dried, I sprayed a light coat of LifeColour “Dust” over the entire model to tie in the rusting, to give the effect of the car having sat in the barn for a long time.

And that’s it, Job done.

Click Here to see more images and a video of the finished model.

I am pleased with the result of my first attempt at the Salt Technique, next time I will use the Hair Spray Technique using Vallejo’s Chipping Medium.