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Weathering/Detailing
Battle Damage (Physical) - Battle Damage (Visual) - Chipped Paint - Dry Brushing - Wash - Scribing
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Battle Damage (Physical) -

Battle damage is one of the most important things in Star Wars modeling. Most of it is merely visual, just a dark streak or smear. Some of it, however, is physical. A dent, ding, scar or chunk. This is most evident on the body of the Millennium Falcon. The best way to do this is with something hot to melt the plastic. I suggest an old soldering iron. Making damage on Star Wars kits isn't like on most other types of modeling. Most people would use aircraft modeling techniques but it really doesn't work. In aircraft the sheet metal is extremely thing. In Star Wars they have thick bulkheads surrounding the ships. There is no such thing as thin little sheet metal when talking about interstellar warships. With that said, the damage has to have some substance to it. It has to look thick. The ionized gas bolts of the turbolasers and other weaponry melt the armor on Star Wars ships. That is why I suggest melting the plastic with a soldering iron. It is basically the exact same thing. Start by practicing a LOT on scrap plastic. It takes some practice to get it right. To do it, stick the soldering iron right into the plastic and as it melts, push it outward in the direction the blast would go. Make small ridges off it around the damaged area. It should look somewhat like an impact crater. Be careful not to push too far because you can go right through the plastic. If that happens and that is not what you were intending to do, than you have to place a piece of sheet styrene underneath to fill the hole. That's pretty much it.

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Battle Damage (Visual) -

Visual battle damage is the most common type of damage shown on Star wars ships. These can be anything from dark streaks to subtle weather marks. The best way to make the dark kind is to use an airbrush. You can spray a mark in the direction that it would normally travel. It is important to not use black paint when doing this. I used to use black and it just ended up looking cartoonish. If you want an accurate look as compared to the original studio models, use a dark gray or just something that looks dirty. Also, when weathering an entire model using this technique, make sure that you vary the color as you go along. If you use one color over the whole model it will not look right. To make the lighter kind of damage you have a few choices. You can airbrush it, you can try the dry brush or wash technique described below, or you can use chalk. The chalk technique is attained by rubbing some dark artist chalks on sandpaper until you have a nice pile of dust. Then, take a very finely haired brush and run it through the chalk. It sometimes helps if the brush is just barely moist. This helps the chalk stick a little better. With the chalk on the brush, swipe it over the model like you would dry brush. Swipe in the direction of the mark. It takes a few tries to get it up to full color. Be careful, as soon as you touch it, it will disappear! If you are going to use chalks, do them last right before you seal the model with an overcoat.

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Chipped Paint -

This is one of my favorite techniques. There are two separate techniques I use for this. The first is for when there is not a ton of small detail that needs to show through the paint. I used this extensively on the 1/6, 1/12 and 1/15 Boba Fett. What I do is first decide what parts need to be chipped. I spray these parts with whatever color I want to show through. This is usually silver because most things are metal. This has to be done with a very hard enamel. I use Testors silver in the aerosol can. This has always worked for me without fail. I let that dry for a long time. After it has dried I paint my topcoat on top of that. This has to be done in a soft acrylic paint. I use the kinds that are used for Folk and Tole painting, brands like Delta Ceramcoat, Apple Barrel etc. They are extremely cheap, come in almost unlimited colors and can be found anywhere. This has to be painted by hand in several coats. It will be thick so that is why I suggest only using the technique on things that don't have a ton of detail. Let this acrylic dry and then take an X-ACTO to it randomly. I suggest softly sticking the tip of the blade into the soft acrylic paint and then pulling it away from the part. The top color should come off to reveal the silver underneath. This takes some practice to get right.

The second technique for chipping paint is called the "salt technique". This is a much more accurate technique that allows you to chip without using a lot of paint and obscuring details. Basically what you do is airbrush your base color. This is the color you want to show through (usually a metallic color). When this is dry, slightly moisten it and place granules of salt where you want the chips. Let this dry thoroughly and then airbrush your top coat over that. Once the top coat is dry, you can rub off the salt and it will reveal some nice paint chips. This same technique can also be done using non-permanent rubber cement. I have even seen people use mustard!

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Dry Brushing -

Dry brushing is a very effective weathering technique that has been used by armor modelers forever. It can be used lightly to bring out the details of something, or heavily to make something look grungy and dirty. dry brushing is done by loading up the paintbrush with the paint you want to use and then getting rid of most of it. Just wipe the brush on a paper towel until pretty much nothing is coming off of the brush anymore. Then, swipe the brush over the area you want to detail. It should pick out the raised details with the little remaining paint and help them stand out. This can be done with control panels and even raised panel lines. It's a really nice way to make the detail in a kit show itself. If you want to use it to make a kit look dirty, don't wipe as much paint off of the brush as before. When you wipe the brush over the kit large streaks will appear. This is great for areas that see heavy wear like tank treads, or the bottom of walker feet. Like everything else this takes some practice to get used to.

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Mix up a nice grungy color; dark gray is most common. Pick some up on your brush and then wipe most of it off on a paper towel. Brush softly over the model to either pick out details or make dark shaded areas. Not wiping off as much paint can create nice streaks. Here is the overall effect.

Wash -

This is another great weathering technique that I use all of the time. Washing refers to diluting paint to an almost water consistency. You basically want it to look and run like dirty water or thinner. With this, you can run it into the panel lines or detail areas of a piece to help bring them out or make weather spots. This is done through several different methods. If you want an overall dirty look, liberally apply the wash all over the model. It will pool in some areas and flow into others. This should give you an overall grungy dirty look. If you want it just in the detail areas, first coat your model with a Gloss spray. The apply the wash only to the detail areas like panel lines. It will automatically flow into them because of the gloss finish. Once it has dried the details will stand out and you can dull coat the model if you want. You can also use wash to specifically detail certain areas. Say there is an oil leak or some kind of other outlet that gives off nasty stuff. You can place a good drop of the wash in the area where it exits and let it run in the natural direction or you can taper it with your brush. I sometimes like to place the drop and smear it down with my finger. This looks especially good on the side of the AT-AT.

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For an overall toning and detailing, apply a heavy, wet coat of thinned out dark gray or black. See how it settles in all the detail areas and where grime would usually accumulate? Here is the overall effect of a general wash. Apply a little bit thicker wash to certain areas to accent heavier usage areas. While still wet, wipe most of it away to get faded, grungy streaks and runs.

Scribing -

This is a basic technique that can be used to engrave things into the surface of a kit like details or panel lines. Often times plastic kits will have unrealistic panel lines or missing panel lines. A scribing tool, much like an Awl or dentist pick, can be used to scribe these in. Often times resin kits will lose some of the detail in the panel lines through the molding process and this technique can revive what is left. The most important thing to remember is to try to keep the lines as straight as possible. If they aren't straight they look terrible. The best way to keep them straight is to use a template. This are sold by companies like Verlinden and are small pieces of sheet metal with guides to run the tool through. If you can not find or afford these you can also use labeling tape. You know those little doohickeys where they have a hard plastic label with a sticky backing and you select each letter and punch it into the tape? Well the plastic tape from those make great guides. Just buy the refill rolls. Remove the sticky backing and place the edge along the line you want to scribe. The scribing tool will not go through the plastic and should make a nice straight edge.

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