Friday, April 10, 2009

Masking - No Salt Required

Salt masking has been all the rage lately, mostly thanks to giganticdark's amazing Space Marine. The technique requires multiple passes with a double action airbrush, which can be something of an inconvenience if you don't actually own one. This tutorial describes how to use a brush-on masking medium to achieve natural looking wear. This is a very basic tutorial, so please experiment and see how you can alter it to produce more complex effects.

The key is this stuff: Vallejo Model Color Liquid Mask. It's a water soluble acrylic that dries to a gummy consistency like rubber cement. The key here is that when it's set it is easy to remove, revealing whatever color was under it.

Step 1: Deepest color. I started with a Rhino that I had basecoated Red Gore. To the area I planned on weathering I painted Reaper Shadowed Steel (basically boltgun.) Viewing the result, I think I would go with a brighter metallic next time, like Chainmail. After the steel dried I applied a very diluted wash of VGC Orange Fire, the brighter of their two oranges, to give the impression of corrosion. Let this coat dry thoroughly before continuing.

Step 2: Apply the mask. Put some of the mask on your pallete, pick a bit up with a coarse brush and then tap the mask lightly on the areas you want to reveal when the process is complete. Try to keep the pattern of application somewhat random while controlling where you want to wear to show most. It's much easier to see when dry, so don't be afraid to apply a little, let it dry, assess the pattern and then apply more as needed. I haven't tried this myself, but the "toothbrush spray" technique may work for random splatter patterns. Let the mask dry thoroughly before continuing.

Step 3: Match the base color. Paint over the mask and wear color with the base color again. I know I sound like a broken record on this, but multiple thin coats make for smooth paint jobs, not thick paint globbed on in one coat. Let each coat dry before applying the next, until the wear area roughly matches the rest of the paint color.

Step 4: Remove the mask. Use a colour shaper, pencil eraser, or a stiff brush that you have an irrational vendetta against and gently brush the mask off the area. It's gummy and will pill up, but it comes off eventually leaving the wear color from step 1 revealed. If you get it on a brush, soap will do a pretty good job of removing it.

That's it! A low sodium technique for natural looking wear. I'm sure this group can figure out interesting variations to get the most out of this. Show me!


  1. Nice tutorial. That turned out really well.

  2. I would see this as the classical approach and it works very well as you have shown us. But salt is cheaper.. can't beat greed ;)

    thanks for sharing

  3. Love the blog man thanks for signing up on the site, I am in awe of your painting abilities!

    -Falconator dev/admin

  4. That looks pretty realistic, I like that a lot.


I had to add anti-spam measures because, let's face it, almost nobody comments on blogs anymore unless they are spamming. Sorry.