Rust: A Tutorial

The unaltered Bug, out of the package

Following the amazing feedback I got from my rust technique on the ’57 DeSoto on the Gaslands Facebook group, I decided to try to chronicle every step of the technique on a new build. I initially did an orange Jeep build but kinda screwed up my own technique (but learned what NOT to do!), so I tried it again with this M2 Machines Bug model I found at the store for a couple of bucks.

I liked how the open doors and hood looked on the DeSoto, so I took a screwdriver to the Bug and pulled it apart, then yanked the glass out of the windows and removed the hood and trunk. I also took the opportunity to do a tiny bit of interior detail work: painting the steering wheel and seats. I wanted this to be a fast build though so I didn’t do much. While the shell was off I went ahead and sprayed it with Matte Finishing Spray. This serves two purposes: it acts as a primer when you want to keep a car’s original paint job, and it tends to weather and smear paint a bit, which you can see it did in the pictures. It’s a look I like but you pay prefer not to do that; if that’s the case, just spray a thinner coat of Matte.

The next step was to do a bit of the detail work on the outside: putting the Bug back together, painting a few details on the engine, painting and mounting the minigun, and then using a black wash on the mechanical parts. I went ahead and painted the headlights an off-white color I like (it’s technically “parchment” I think) that ends up looking pretty awesome once you put the final coats of wash on the car.

Initial weathering: some gray streaks

The first step I do in weathering is to add a few grey streaks here and there, to simulate areas where paint has chipped away and the metal underneath shows. I try to do it on lead edges of the car so it looks like things that might have happened driving through dust storms or something suitably post-apocalyptic. Most of these will end up being rusted over, but a few end up showing through.

Then it’s on to the first coat of rust. I use a color called Spanish Tile, which has heavy tints of orange, as the “base coat.” I drybrush it on the areas I want to rust fairly liberally: make sure some of the paint beneath shows through in places, and it’s thicker in others. This entire rust effect is based on making things look textured, so you want different colors of paint (including the car’s original coat) showing. Texture is extremely organic-looking and keeps your rust from just looking, well, painted on.

I should also point out that I spent a lot of time looking at reference pictures of old rusted cars to try to figure out which areas of the cars rust the most. I feel like that “sells” the rust as much as anything. I also recommend NOT painting your rust coat symmetrically; nature is rarely symmetrical, and any time a car is sitting out in the rain and elements, the wind is almost always a major corrosive agent and usually comes from a similar direction, so nothing ever quite rusts evenly.

The second coat is about halfway between the first and third in darkness. You want to try add this to about two-thirds of the area of the initial coat, mostly in the center (the darker the rust, the closer to the center of the rust spot), and remember you want both colors showing as much as possible. I like to think of the drybrushing as “feathering” the paint on, because the effect is similar to a bird’s feather in terms of the different areas of color.

The third coat is about two-thirds of the second coat, and is byfar the darkest. This represents the areas of most rust, and it’s easy to overkill here, so paint less first and come back if you feel like it needs to be a little darker. Personally I feel like less is more on this third coat, but for things that have been “out in the rain” a while longer, they’ll definitely have bigger rust spots, so keep that in mind.

If you want to add areas of pure naked metal among the rusted-out areas, this is the time to do it. I didn’t do any in the Bug build but one or two little obtuse-shaped patches of naked metal look cool and kind of help sell your model.

The final step for the rust technique is to use a brown wash. This helps do two things: a light layer of rust in areas without any paint (and it gives the whole car a kind of dingy look), and it helps blend the three coats of paint you’ve already applied a bit. I strongly recommend using a thin coat to begin with, especially on the areas where you’ve painted rust, since there’s a very fine line between blending the paint and losing detail under thick layers of wash. A quick coat, followed by removing some of the thicker areas with your brush, should do the trick.

Rust paint blended with wash and finished wheels

After that you can finish the car as you like. I dirtied up the tires and added some mud to the low areas like the bumpers and such; I need to learn how to do better dirty tires next. And there it is!

1920s Team: Monster Truck

I’m working on a 1920s team – only vehicles from the 1920s or earlier (call it Gaslands by Gaslight if you want) – and I decided to start at the end and build a monster truck for some reason. Of course where were no such things as monster trucks in the 1920s, so I had to get… creative.

You do not want this thing to run you over.

The car on top is a cheap Model T model I grabbed off Etsy of all places; I tore the bottom off, primed it, and repainted it red. It’s difficult to see but I did a fair amount of detail work on the (open) interior as well, like the gear shift, seats, and steering wheel.

The body is where things start to get interesting. I had a BB-8 monster truck with a flexible, different chassis than most Hot Wheels monster trucks that I’d picked up at some point. I was originally just going to use its wheels and replace the body with the Model T, but the large tires just didn’t look right. It also turned out that the way the body sat on the chassis, I had to cover a lot of silly-looking areas, which is why there are steel and metal plates on the sides (and the front, which covers the enormous MADE IN CHINA that’s molded into the plastic itself!

I solved the tires by replacing the front with two S-scale locomotive wheels I’d picked up with some other random junk parks for a couple of bucks, and the back with two wooden wagon wheels I found from a seller on eBay. My original plan was the use the locomotive wheels on my War Rig as decorations, hanging them from the trailer with chains, but that made the Rig look too busy so I put them back in the parts bag. This is a great example of why I never toss anything out (or packrat literally everything I might be able to use). The wheels were a strange red plastic, so I did them up black and added a bunch of grey and chrome weathering, along with the rusted steel on the rims.

Vroom vroom, crunch crunch

I actually painted the wagon wheels to look like a darker wood; they were originally a light color like oak or pine and it didn’t look right with the overall darker shades in this build. The wheels are on four separate “axels” made from bamboo cooking skewers, and I left the tips on the front skewers so they doubled as spiky bits.

Overall I’m pretty happy with how this turned out. My only complaint is that the chassis of the car still looks a little small for a monster truck (it’s not long enough) but I think it would look really silly to put that Model T body on a longer, traditional monster truck chassis, so I decided this build worked out alright.

Garbage Truck ‘o Death

A garbage truck with a giant saw blade on the front
Time to take out the trash

This garbage truck is actually an off-brand model I found in a Target; it’s about the right size for Gaslands (1/64) and came apart easily so I could rip the plastic windows out and install the mesh in the windows.

I scavenged a few things from around the house for other parts: the blades on the wheels are the backs of snaps you can pick up at a fabric store like JoAnne’s, and the toothed saw blade on the front is a picture hanger (the kind you’d nail on the back of a picture frame). The original model just had two prongs in front, like a garbage truck would use to lift a dumpster.

It’s hard to tell from the picture, but I really tried to rough up the body of the truck, as though it was covered with slime and old trash. I drybrushed on several colors of green and brown but the purple body color makes the other colors super-hard to see.

Once Gaslands: Time Extended 3 hits, I plan on playing this truck as a Heavy Truck-class vehicle!

Monster Truck with BFG

Monster Truck with BFG

This was a fun build: a Hot Wheels monster truck with this cannon pencil sharpener I found on eBay for a couple of bucks. The cannon was originally going to be for my 1920s team, but it turned out to be too big for any of those vehicles, so I repurposed it as a BFG and slapped it on the back of this monster truck.

This is also the first time I tried the three-layer rust technique; it’s a little rough here, but I learned quite a bit for my future DeSoto build.

For the cannon, I used an “old penny”-color paint, then thinned down a bright green color into a light wash to get a tarnished look. It took a couple of coats to get the look right, and I think it could almost stand another one.

The cannon itself is heavy, and the car nearly tips over; I wouldn’t play this on any map that had hills because I didn’t glue the monster truck’s wheels so it’s pretty roly-poly.