The Detroit Post
Thursday, 21 October, 2021

How To Make A Rust Color

Daniel Brown
• Monday, 14 December, 2020
• 8 min read

Paint can give new objects a patina that makes them look much older than they actually are. You can mix colors and painting techniques to create a weathered rusty look to almost anything, from planters and picture frames to cars.

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For instance, if you have a metal railing outside that you would like to look rusty, you can paint it or oxidize it. Oxidizing involves introducing real rust, which in time can weaken the metal and make it unsafe.

Dab it onto a rag or paper towel to remove most, but not all, of the paint. This is a dry brushing technique, and it lets you add a little color at a time.

Add some red or yellow sparingly, to highlight around the rust and brown colors. Do small areas at a time, stepping back to look at the overall effect.

Beginning with the primary three colors, mix yellow and blue to make green. Adding these primary and secondary colors results in rust.

Although traditionally rust is recognized as a reddish color, it can also be brown, orange, yellow and even green in appearance. While commonly used to describe a color for painting and decorating, rust also has added significance in science.

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Fact Check: “JFK Jr. Is Still Alive” and Other Unfounded Conspiracy Theories About the Late President’s Son Zoom, zoom…another week gone, and another piece of inspiration for you This week, I wanted to share this great video by Annie FFredChristensen I found on YouTube on how to create faux rust using acrylic paints (and one secret, but easy to come by, ingredient).

Work in small areas, and ensure that the entire surface is covered. Proceed to dab glue onto the surface of your piece using an old paint brush.

For example, on the urn in the photo above, Annie painted the surface black and went straight to Step #3 and added the glue and cinnamon. I thought it would be a better idea to not only show and explain how I do it, but what has inspired me on my travels across the great land known as Internet. To start with, I originally used very little rust effects in my painting.

Dirty and rusty have been a source of curiosity to me for years, and thanks to the internet, you can find all kinds of examples of it. I kick myself now, because I don’t have a documented list of all the fantastic examples of how to create the rust effect that I have come across over the years.

One of the best sources I have gotten my hands on though is the following book: Forge World’s “Model Masterclass” Volume 1. I have heard people trying all kinds of variances for this, but my simple method saves time and effort and comes out looking good.

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Firstly, you can create a mixture using white spirits like my book suggests. This technique I combined three separate weathering powders, some burnt umber oil paint and white spirits.

Once dry it is quite dark, looks great, and I finish it off with 2:1 (water to fiery orange) anywhere I want to change the color. I will add here that I think it needs to be applied in a patchy manner along full surfaces, or around bolts or other protrusions.

Let it dry, and reapply anywhere you want the orange to ‘pop’ a bit more. Second technique is using water and weathering powders. Load your brush and apply it to the powders you have on your painting palette.

Random dab the rusts in places to create a greater sense of visual. Remember that rust changes color depending on its age.

Then stipple it with Mechanics Solar Orange to give it a rusty look. A wash of Declan Mud and Ba dab Black was then applied to add shading.

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There is always one that speaks loudest to us, and I won’t pretend to assume that my methods are the best or only ones. Screaming 3agle ( has several excellent weathering techniques on his website.

Apply Vallejo Air Rust on wet pallet and mix it with water (relation 1:5) and apply about 3 thin layers on spear (remember that previous layer must buy dry). Step III Do the same thing with Vallejo Air Cam.

Step IV Apply Tamika Black on pallet and mix it with Vallejo Brown (1:1). Paint shadows on spear, about 1-2 layers (XF-1 has strong pigment, so be careful).

If you don't have MiG pigment (or homemade powdered dry pastels), move to Step VII. Step V Pigment time: Mix a little (like on picture) part of pigment with blood-red and water (1:5) and apply 1 thin layer on random spear parts.

Step VI Try a very simple thing for the end, dry brush the spear with Bolt gun Metal. But remember, not aggressive hitting miniature by your brush or not shuffle.

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Here he uses actual metal to make “go figure” realistic looking rust ! Call me crazy (or suddenly inspired) but the essential heart of this “natural” weathering technique is the Rust Mixture itself.

While not an intense chemical reaction, it does produce a somewhat significant amount of gas as a by-product over time. I found out the hard way about leaving the screw-top off the dropper bottle until the reaction subsided completely (roughly 2-3 days, perhaps more) as when I first opened it, I was spattered with overflowing Rust Mixture.

While I can't say this is the ideal mixture for painting, as it takes some getting used to, I can safely say it's likely the most authentic rust mixture I've seen used on any miniature figures thus far, given that it is genuine rust in a bottle! You can ink, paint, dry brush, use weathering powders etc, etc.

At this point I would like to add about the use of corrosives and chemicals to achieve rust effects: stay away from them! Dangerous and pointless; and not even half as much fun or satisfaction as doing it the old-fashioned way.

It’s always good to have some source material if you are trying to re-create something that exists in real life, be it lizard skin, camo or fabric. Rust is scientifically called oxidation, which occurs when oxygen comes into prolonged contact with certain metals.


Water molecules can easily penetrate the microscopic pits and cracks in any exposed metal. The hydrogen atoms present in water can combine with other elements to form acids, which will eventually cause more metal to be exposed.

If sodium is present, as is the case with saltwater, corrosion will likely occur more quickly. So, if you’re painting pirates and things in seawater add more rust.

Working from a black undercoat you can either dry brush or simply paint on your base color. These areas hold water more than the flat surfaces and are more prone to rust.

Paint this over the terracotta, allowing some original color to remain visible at the edges. 1) Apply a coat of primer designed for all surfaces and allow it dry.

Drying times vary for different brands of primer, which is why you should always follow the manufacturer's instructions. Sprinkle clean sand over the random areas on the object while the paint is still wet, and allow it to dry for a minimum of 12 hours.

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Applying sand will give the object the look of oxidation or rough areas where rust forms. 3) Pick the object up and turn it over to allow excess sand to fall off of it before applying the next coat of paint.

4) Apply dark brown paint to the object by stippling it on the surface. You want to be able to see the base coat of paint and sand through the brown in random areas on the object.

Use the stipple technique to apply the gray paint over the entire surface of the object, and allow it to dry. The gray paint fades out the brown and terracotta paint, which gives the effect of rust beginning to form through the original metal.

The orange paint should be splattered on areas where rust would naturally form. Natural rust formation usually occurs along the edges, and on ridges that might collect water.

Dabbing the paint will flatten the splatters and make them appear like the formation of rust. 9) Allow the newly faux finished object to completely dry before placing it outside.

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