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Heavy Weathering Tutorial #1 - The Hairspray Technique


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#1
Agatheron

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While I've used this a few times on various builds, I've never actually done an actual step-by-step pictorial lesson of the hairspray technique.

This was pioneered by Phil Stutcinskas who now works for Forgeworld, but now has a wide audience within the Military Modelling community. He describes it as an inset box in Imperial Armour Model Masterclass Volume 1. I present an example of it with my own work on the Forgeworld Kill Bursta Tank. While I largely follow Phil's technique, this one has a slight variation. The hairspray technique is a type of "paint removal" technique, where paint is applied to the model, and then removed. This technique is best used when a look of heavy wear/chipping is what you're after. It works very well for Ork Vehicles.

So here goes.

Materials you will need:
  • An Airbrush - Preferably Dual action. Mine happens to be a Grex XG. I think it's possible to do this technique using the GW Spray Gun.
  • A can of aerosol hairspray.
  • GW's Purity Seal Varnish - Phil specifically recommends this spray over anything else. It needs to be a Lacquer-based Satin Varnish, which Purity Seal is, otherwise this whole technique won't work.
  • Acrylic Paints:
    • Scorched Brown
    • Dark Flesh
    • Blood Red
    • Golden Yellow
    • Blazing Orange
    • Codex Grey or Tamiya XF-53 Neutral Grey
  • Tamiya X-20A Thinner - For thinning the paint going through the airbrush. Use this even if using the GW Spraygun.


Step #1: Base Coat
After spraying the whole engine with Black Primer, I airbrushed it using Scorched Brown as my overall base. Rusted Metal often takes on a dark brown appearance at its base.

Posted Image

Step #2: Enhancing the Base coat (optional)
This is where I borrow a technique outside of Phil's steps. I wanted the base rust layer to look a lot more hodge-podge than a single smooth colour. As such, I sponged on Dark Flesh, Blood Red, Blazing Orange and a bit of Golden Yellow. It looks really overdone in this picture, but as you will see, it won't be that prevalent in the final product.

Posted Image

Step #3: Purity Seal (not optional)
Seal the model using GW's Purity Seal Satin Varnish. It needs to be a Lacquer-based Satin Varnish to provide a protective layer that the hairspray can't easily bond to. Phil has tested a number of different formulations, but in this case GW's own Purity Seal comes out the best. If there is a most important step, this is it. Miss this step, it won't work. Period. In this case, I sprayed 2 coats of Purity Seal on just to be sure.

Posted Image

Step #4: Hairspray
You don't have to be picky about the hairspray used. Anything will do. In fact, I ran out of hairspray just as I was preparing to do this and had to run out and get a new bottle of it today. Aerosol spray is the best... although you can decant it and spray it through an airbrush if you want to for better control. I didn't need better control and sprayed this right over the piece straight from the can. For this piece I only used one layer of hairspray, but you can certainly apply more than one letting things dry between the layers. The more layers of hairspray the heavier the wear.

Posted Image

Step #5: Top Colour
In this case, I wanted the engine gubbinz to look reasonably new by Ork standards. The engine bits would certainly have acquired dirt and rust, but Bad Moonz are unusually clean for Orks. As such, the top colour would be used to represent the basic grey-steel colour that was starting to rust away. The top colour can be whatever you want it to be. Keep in mind that having something that contrasts well with the previous layer will make it stand out more. I've used this technique on Goff stuff, but because it is so dark, it doesn't translate well to pictures. In this case, I airbrushed Tamiya XF-53 Neutral Grey, but Codex Grey airbrushed works just as well. This is not something that can be hand brushed, it must be airbrushed on, otherwise you will dissolve the hairspray before it is ready to be dissolved.

Posted Image

Step #6: Hairspray/Paint Removal
What makes this technique work is the fact that Hairspray is a water-soluble fixative. The hairspray sticks to the model, the top colour sticks to the hairspray. Dissolve the hairspray, and the paint comes off in a very natural-looking way. All that is really needed to dissolve the hairspray is a soft brush and warm water. Using the wash brush and warm water I basically soaked the whole thing by slopping water all over it. I then came back continuously keeping the brush very wet, using gentle strokes brushed the surface until the paint began to sluff off. I would work on one area until I was happy with it and then move onto the other. For some of the more scratched areas, I lightly scrubbed using the stippling brush, and then came back with the wash brush. Once I was done, I used a paper towel to wick away any excess water.

Posted Image

Once you've done this step, it is a very good idea to seal the model again using varnish. In this case, I sprayed it down with 'ardcoat to give it a protective layer, plus the next steps that I will be taking. While the engine is essentially done from a chipping standpoint, there are other techniques that I will be applying later on including a oil-based wash, as well as rust streaking. Those are for a later tutorial as they are not specifically tied in with the hairspray technique.

Thanks for listening. Let me know what you think.
______Agatheron \_______
--Remember, long, uncontrolled bursts,
and indiscriminate target selection.
____________________________/


http://chaplainsbrush.wordpress.com/

#2
Abhorsen

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nice tutorial, seems like a really nice rust method, and i like that u went all the way up to yellow with your rust under coat i will have to try that, looks good. what kind of varnish do u use? i recently picked up liquatex matte varnish, but i am always on the look out for other good ones. thanks again for this cheers!

#3
Nazdakutsmega (the Ork)

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Thanks Agatheron. I have to admit, I won't be trying this anytime soon, as I'm not in the market for an airbrush right now. But your photos are awesome, and the step-by-step-ness of your tutorial is very helpful. I'd been thinking about buying the forge world master class book since their books are now being carried at my local GW, but maybe now I won't have to. At first I was thinking "why not just paint the chips on," but I see now that there is no way to replicate this effect without actually removing the paint. It looks very good. I believe you mentioned using it in your dred contest entry as well, yes? Anyway, very well done. Professional, even. Look forward to seeing/learning more.

#4
Kr00zA

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Lovely stuff. Id like to see plenty of this used on me Skull'Amma which Ill be shipping to you this week ;)
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#5
Zazzdakka

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Great tutorial Aga! I have a couple of questions though, that might seem a bit wierd...... 1. When doing the removal step, I notice that on some of the higher areas(by that I mean the edges), you have done alot of work, but on others you haven't. I'm talking about the left side stacks compared to the right. Is there a certain way that you approch where you are going to remove paint, or is it something that has to be felt after doing this a few times? I have tried the effect on a couple of pieces and found that I removed too much paint in some area and not enough in others. Which got the effect all wrong. 2. Do you plan on doing GW washes after you've done this step. Or is that one of those, 'It's up to you' questions? 3. Can you seal this again with varnish and use the same technique when you are decorating? I.E. Goff checks or flames. Thanks again for the tips. :thumbs
Makin' it up as I go along!

#6
Agatheron

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Great tutorial Aga!

I have a couple of questions though, that might seem a bit wierd......


There's no such thing as a stupid question in my book :) I'll see if I can answer them.

1. When doing the removal step, I notice that on some of the higher areas(by that I mean the edges), you have done alot of work, but on others you haven't. I'm talking about the left side stacks compared to the right. Is there a certain way that you approch where you are going to remove paint, or is it something that has to be felt after doing this a few times? I have tried the effect on a couple of pieces and found that I removed too much paint in some area and not enough in others. Which got the effect all wrong.


Much of the wear is dictated by two factors, the first being the amount of hairspray that collects in a given area, and the second being how hard you end up moistening/brushing/scrubbing a given area. The first is more important, as an area that has almost no hairspray on it will remain with very few chips if any at all no matter how hard you scrub. On the other hand, an area where the hairspray pooled before it dried will simply sluff off as soon as the water is applied even before you start rubbing it with a brush. This would be where it would be useful to decant the hairspray by spraying it into a small container, and then pouring it into your airbrush for more careful application. This would allow for more even coverage I think.

2. Do you plan on doing GW washes after you've done this step. Or is that one of those, 'It's up to you' questions?


It is up to you. In my case, I am going to use MIG Production's oil-based washes to pull out some of the detail and do some dripping dirt effects.

3. Can you seal this again with varnish and use the same technique when you are decorating? I.E. Goff checks or flames.


Yes. I did that with my Goff Walkers... 3 layers worth actually :)

Thanks again for the tips. :thumbs


No problem.

@Abhorsen: For the varnish step I only use Purity Seal. Once the last step is complete, you can use almost anything. Future Floor Acrylic, 'ardcoat, dullcote... it's all good. It just depends on what you're going to do next. If you're doing more layers of this, use Purity Seal. If you're going to use oils, use 'ardcoat. If you're going to use acrylics or weathering powders, dullcote or some other matte seal.
______Agatheron \_______
--Remember, long, uncontrolled bursts,
and indiscriminate target selection.
____________________________/


http://chaplainsbrush.wordpress.com/

#7
MaddaMek

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While mine airbrush still did not arrive I give 5 choppas :thumbs .
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#8
Me not Weedy

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I've been thinking a lot lately on how to weather my vehicles and in my tiny peanut mind I keep thinking about the hairspray technique I've heard you talk about Aga. I'm so very glad that you posted this. ...Now to acquire an airbrush...
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#9
Zazzdakka

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So I guess that it has to do with how much hairspray goes on huh? That explains a few things for sure. Now on to my BW! :biggrin Thanks again. :thumbs
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#10
Garslag

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I've seen a couple of tutorials on this technique and I liked this the best. You've explained it nice and simply for those of us that aren't brainboyz ;) I now feel confident enough to give this a go. One question - I've seen another tutorial where they added an additional step, using salt. Have you come across this before? Do you have an opinion on it?
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#11
Agatheron

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One question - I've seen another tutorial where they added an additional step, using salt. Have you come across this before? Do you have an opinion on it?


The hairspray technique is one type of "paint removal" technique. Using salt is another. The basic idea is that something is placed on the model in order to later expose a previous layer of paint. Sometimes salt can be combined with hairspray, although generally if this is done, the purity seal step is skipped, as the hairspray is used more as a fixative for the salt. When I have done the salt technique, I use brushed-on tap water before sprinkling on the (ground sea) salt, and letting it dry before airbrushing.

I should note that if you're holding off on acquring Forgeworld's Model Masterclass book because I've printed the technique here, I'd say invest in the book, because there are a whole lot of modelling gems in it.
______Agatheron \_______
--Remember, long, uncontrolled bursts,
and indiscriminate target selection.
____________________________/


http://chaplainsbrush.wordpress.com/

#12
Sukz Da' Nob

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Great tuitorial and the effect is eye-catching.
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#13
Big Mek Greasegasket

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This was a great read, I had avoided it due to having a copy of the masterclass, but now I think I prefer your method as there's no mucking about with sand. When I eventually get an airbrush to do all my future vehicles I'll definately give this a go, and I've bookmarked the thread so I wont lose it. Something this handy might do well in the oilas blooprints :)
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#14
mr_maxime

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i think tin bitz or a brass would look nicer than golden yellow. this is a very cool tutorial though. im getting some practice on my airbrush tomorrow and im thinking of trying the salt method with your added step.

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#15
Agatheron

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The metal sheen that would come out of the brass/tin bitz doesn't really fit for this style of painting... not at this stage at least. I may do a graphite rub in places once it is all done to bring that up. I've come to really like the realism of that look.
______Agatheron \_______
--Remember, long, uncontrolled bursts,
and indiscriminate target selection.
____________________________/


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#16
mr_maxime

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A graphite rub would look better than tin bitz or brass actually. It would make it look like this picture http://www.myfourthi...ent.php?id=5663

The yellow still looks odd to me, but its your decision.

 I'm right, and nothing ever annoys me more. - Dim


#17
Agatheron

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I should note that following on the heels of this tutorial are at least two more. The next one will be on using oil-based washes for both recessed dirt and emphasizing details, and then doing rust streaks to complement the chipping. Hopefully I can post those soon.
______Agatheron \_______
--Remember, long, uncontrolled bursts,
and indiscriminate target selection.
____________________________/


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#18
Big Mek Orktapus

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I think it would be a grand idea to have a sticky thread for painting tutorials such as these, basically like our 101 thread but simply for painting.
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Da scrapas

#19
Agatheron

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Well, actually, we've created an entire forum dedicated to modeling and painting techniques. :)
______Agatheron \_______
--Remember, long, uncontrolled bursts,
and indiscriminate target selection.
____________________________/


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