Welcome to the weathering section of the Layman’s Gunpla Guide. Why a whole separate section? Well weathering is a complex thing to talk about and would be immensely cumbersome to scope out over a single plage. The good news is that weathering is a lot of fun and accessible for modelers of any skill level.
What is Weathering
Weathering is the process of taking your kit, be it Gunpla, tank, airplane, etc. and giving it the appearance of having been exposed to the elements of time, combat, day to day work, and the weather (hence the name).
This could be as simple as applying a few scratches here and there to make a part look scraped up. You could apply battle damage throughout the kit to give war worn appearance. Apply rust and crud techniques to make it look as though it’s been sitting around outside for years.
When it comes to weathering I always tell people that less is more. Some of the best weathered kits out there don’t look weathered at first glance. It’s only when you get up close do you see all of the real subtle work and layers of different techniques.
The main quality of good model weathering is correct scale. Mud stains, rust streaks, paint chips and every other effect should all be scaled down in order to match their real life equivalent. Nothing removes the illusion of scale faster than improperly sized weathering attempts.
The various techniques required for weathering are generally pretty easy to implement. As such it’s really easy to overdo it. A little can go along way and it’s far too easy to cross the line into overkill. I recommend practicing on a few kits first to get a handle on the process. Some techniques, like oil washes or pastels, can be cleaned up pretty easy. Others, such as applying battle damage, can outright ruin a kit.
Weathering can take a lot of time too. It’s definitely a task best suited for the patient. It’s a great idea to take some time off once in a while and come back to the kit after a few hours. This will allow you to see the “big picture” and notice if you’re overdoing it.
Create a Scenario
One thing I like to recommend is that folks create a scenario for their kit, a story, and base the weathering off of that. Was it stuck in a sand storm? Trudging through the rainforest? Left to rot on Mars? This will help better define what sort of effects to add to your kit and what you should leave off.
If you want to get really realistic with the look of the weathering look into what happens to real life objects in similar scenarios. This may be more relevant to folks building military models but checking out the rust and wear in person can provide a lot of inspiration for Gunpla builds.
Do you live near a tank or war museum? Air show coming to town? Not only are they fun but they make great inspiration and research trips. As an example, here are a bunch of photos
I took at an event in my area. Like those, there are a lot of photos online that will help. Be sure to check out military modeling forums as well since modelers are often weathering ground vehicles.
For the tutorials I’ve teamed up with the fantastic builder Vonschlippe
whose amazing Armored Core builds always make me feel super inadequate.
- Quick Weathering Tutorial - Simple weathering for the everyday builder
- Oil Weathering - The most realistic way to add dirt and streaks
- Dry Brushing - A simple technique with a lot of possibilities
- Battle Damange - Combat isn’t just skin deep
- Hairspray Chipping - The most advanced way to get realistic looking paint chips
- Other Paint Chip Methods - Other ways to get that chipped paint look
- Other Weathering Tips - Everything else