Now, you can get a lot of the effects I have gone for using normal brushes and paints. But I really like using powders as they seems to give a richness to the effect very quickly. Because these things don't dry as such, it is easy to blend tones together, get streaks, and piles of the stuff in cracks and crevices.
|As someone who has actually started a fair few fires, I can certify it looks fairly authentic|
I do have a couple of tips for anyone else planning to use powders though, mostly related to the fact these are very light, very strongly pigmented powders that will stain anything on contact and are designed to spread.
So, firstly, take care opening them. I use the Forge World powders and the lids can take a little 'persuading' to get off. So it can be tempting to just jam your thumb in there - DON'T. You run the risk of spilling them all over your self/home/pets if you take the cap off carelessly. On a similar note, make sure you are apply them to your model or whatever while it is on something disposable, like the large piece of cardboard in my pictures, not your regular painting area. Again, these are very easily spread, highly pigmented products and will stain anything they touch - take care clearing up any spills (I tend to mop up any dropped particles very quickly with a damp piece of kitchen roll). Finally, use a spray varnish to fix the powders to your model when you have the look you want. I use Army Painter's Matt Varnish for most things. Forge World sometimes use Citadel's Purity Seal (usually when they want to fix a detail in place but then paint over it with something else) and I'm sure there are many many others out there. I have even used an enamel matte varnish in an airbrush but I stick with the spraycan for convenience nowadays.
I also recommend getting a special brush for using powders. Not special like, it costs lots of money and you keep it in velvet box. Just special, like you only use it for weathering powders. I got a nice stiff-bristled, fairly wide, artificial fibres one from the bargain bucket at my local art store and have been using it for a couple of years now. The stiff fibres help my pick up powder from its bottles and are great for crushing it down or dragging it out on models. I don't even bother washing it really - pretty much all the powders come off the artificial bristles so I treat it something like a good wok - let a nice patina slowly build up that will add a characteristic 'flavour' to your work.
So, just by sprinkling, squashing, and dragging two powders - Grey Ash and Black Soot - I have a base that really is starting to look like its been in a fire. All part of the urban ruin look I am going for.
I started painting the rim of the piece with Graveyard Earth too. When I did, I started to find the places where my earlier layers of PVA sealant had gotten broken and cracked - there are quite a few pits and divots in what was a nice smooth surface before I started spraying. I guess the lesson I learn here is to take extra care handling stuff like this and USE MORE PVA!