23 Jun 2015

Weathered Metal Painting (Iron Warriors style) Tutorial

Hi all, in the past we have had a few comments asking about how I paint the metallics and weathered paint effect on the Warhound and my Iron Warriors, so I thought I would throw up a tutorial. I'm not saying I am a great painter and this is the right/most effective way to do it (I am sure there are other, better techniques and you might be able to miss a step or two) but this is the process I have nailed down and am happy with after quite a bit of trial and error.

Conveniently, I have a Sicaran that needs painting up, so I'll be using this in the example.

To start with, you need your metallic paints - I used to go off the 3 shade rule, using a dark, mid and light version of the colour to give shade and highlights - which completely works and I still do for infantry models - but for the bigger stuff I have added a mid-light shade for a bit more detail.

The colours I use (in lighting order) are Vallejo Gun Metal Grey, Vallejo Oily Steel, Citadel Ironbreaker (the optional one) and Citadel Runefang Steel. You can substitute them out for different brands - the idea is that they are just different shades.

All drybrushing on this example was using Citadels terrain (or big-ass) drybrush. It seems waaaay to big at first but gives a more consistent result than drybrushing big flat areas with a smaller 'large' drybrush. Infantry/samller mini's obviously requires a smaller drybrush.
Over a black undercoat, give the mini a basecoat of thinned Gunmetal Grey. You aren't after a perfect coat - just get a single layer on.
After that, give the entire thing a wash with black (Nuln Oil or similar). Again, this is just to darken areas ahead of the next step, so it doesn't have to be perfect.
Now overbrush (a bit more paint on the brush than drybrushing) the entire model with Gunmetal Grey. This is going to give you the good basecoat you want and create shadows in recesses where the black wash has pooled. I did this to the entire model as this will be the base of all the metal areas of the model.
Next, drybrush with Oily Steel - this is going to brighten all the metallics. Its good if this is 'patchy' (a bad word, but a few strokes that are too heavy or light will start to give the surface some uneven  texture you are after). At this point I was only painting the outer armour of the tank - I want the treads darker and waeathered, so didn't touch them and the inner armour parts are going to be painted with chevrons later, so I didn't focus/worry about them.
The optional step - a light drybrush with Ironbreaker to highlight the edges and add a few more 'scratches'.
I usually roll the next two steps into one, but took time to split them out to show you all better. So here I line-highlighted every edge and line with Runefang Steel.
Then I went back with Runefang Steel and painted in scratches all of the metallics. I tried to focus on exposed edges where the tracks would throw up debris to cause scratches, or where impact strikes might happen from bullets etc. Less is more with these - also, try to use a really thin brush and keep scratches fine.
With the silver metallics pretty much done now, I throw down the other metallics I will be using - in this case some golds and bronzes.
 These are worked-up in exactly the same way using lighter bronzes/golds and finished with a Runefang highlight.
Now we are starting on the distressed paint - with this being Iron Warriors, there will obviously be hazard stripes, so the base yellow goes down first.
Next up, I simply draw the stripes on by hand using a pencil. You could use masking tape or rulers, but I've found that because the paintjob is going to be distressed later, a half-decent freehand straight line does the job fine.
The black lines are painted on - again, just a freehand straight line is fine for this.
Ok - now to start messing up the paintwork. With a brown paint (I use Mournfang Brown), throw down a layer that will form the basis of the damaged paint - I focus on the edges of surfaces and around the tracks, but also try and spread down to open, flat surfaces to break them up a bit. I use an old knackered brush and stiple it it on (the splayed hairs nicely add to the effect).
Going back to the metallics, starting with the darker metal start stipling with a smaller brush over the brown. You aren't aiming to completely cover the brown (you might need a fine detail brush to add some spots in the middle of any smaller brown areas).
Next it's the mid-metallic, stipling again, but probably applying about half as much as previously.
Finally its the lightest metallic, adding only a little with a fine detail brush to mark the surface scratches.
Ok, that's the metallics finished - I try and tie everything together with a wash of Agrax - it will bring all the colours down and take away some of the brighter metallics (try not to let it collect or become patchy).
Now onto the mud; I use Dark Earth weathering powders by Secret Weapon Miniatures, mixing with some matt acrylic medium to form a cross between a paint and a paste (you are going to be painting it on loosely, but its good to have a few clumps of thicker powder/paint for texture).

Using a pretty big old knackered brush, I stiple the mix onto the tracks and anywhere I think mud is going to fly off onto the tank.
Once dry, I finish the model with some dry weathering powder, applied over the muddy parts and into crevasses/areas of the tank where I think dust will collect. I try and brush some onto flatter areas to break them up again. Then its just a matter of a quick shot with Purity Seal to seal the weathering powder onto the mini and the jobs done!
Hope you like the effect and you find this useful, as ever C&Cs are appreciated.

Thanks for dropping by folks!.


  1. Finally! I'll be borrowing from this for my knights I think.

    1. Also, perhaps a minor point. The mud on the tracks would be flung the other way when going forwards

    2. Cheers Alex - now you've pointed that out I've realised I've done it for my entire army.

      At least it's consistent...lol.

  2. To be fair Iron Warriors are normally heading in reverse to 'castle up' behide some huge fort...

    1. Could be driving forward into a dust storm perhaps!?!

  3. Lovely! Really dig the distressed metal effect that gives, definitely worth the extra steps. Great tutorial, man!

  4. Simple and effective! Those are the best jobs in the end :) Lovely work.

  5. That's quite a tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to make it. I like how the final effects came out. Looks like quite distressed and worn metal due to all the layers involved in it. Nice work!

  6. Not really adding anything that hasn't been said, but thanks for an awesome tutorial! Very detailed!

  7. What yellow did you use? Also after Balthasar gold what bronze paints? This looks great !!!


For the Emperor! (and other Xenos welcome...)

Blog Widget by LinkWithin