How to Paint Rust on a Model Car

Written by larry simmons
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Advanced model-making sometimes requires that you weather and age a model to make it look more realistic. Few things demonstrate age in a car more than a bit of rust around the edges. For a model car, you can easily emulate rust by using a specific painting technique that can be applied with just a few short steps. The result of the technique is the look of badly kept metal perfect for cars destined for the junk heap.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

Things you need

  • Model car
  • Brown paint
  • Fine sand
  • Brown ink
  • Black ink
  • Water
  • Paintbrush
  • Testors Dullcoat

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  1. 1

    Apply a traditional paint job to your model car. Make sure the paint on your model is completely dried before beginning the rusting process.

  2. 2

    Apply a light coat of brown paint to your model in the desired rusty areas. Choose a centre point for the rust and drag your paintbrush outward from that point for realistic rust effects.

  3. 3

    Sprinkle a layer of fine sand onto the wet brown paint on the model to get the texture of rough, pitted metal for your car. Get the sand from model shops that carry model railroading supplies. Allow the sand to dry embedded into the layer of paint.

  4. 4

    Remove the excess sand from the model, gently shaking loose particles free.

  5. 5

    Mix the brown ink with water, creating a mixture that's half ink and half water. Stir the mixture well, as the ink tends to form a layer if it isn't well-mixed.

  6. 6

    Take the brush and lightly dip the tip into the ink. Raise the brush and allow the ink to drip from the bristles back into the mixture, until the brush is barely damp. Give it a few shakes to help the dripping along.

  7. 7

    Lightly apply the ink to your model covering the sand. As with the paint, apply the ink making strokes from the centre outward. Allow the ink to dry once a layer has been applied. Apply a second layer of ink for a heavily rusted look. The more ink applied, the more rusted the area on the model car will appear.

  8. 8

    After applying the ink, finish the car detailing such as decals or other weathering effects and spray the entire model with a layer of Testors Dullcoat to protect the paint job.

Tips and warnings

  • Use separate brushes for ink and paints as the cleanup process is different.
  • For a look of an area that's been completely rusted through, use a black ink mixture for the first layer over the dust, followed by the brown ink.
  • The thin ink/water mixture is hard to direct, so use only light applications with the brush, covering small sections slowly.

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