Saturday, December 28, 2013

Deadzone Terrain Weathering

If you have been following my previous guides to speedy and even speedier painting of the masses of tiles that came with the Deadzone Kickstarter packages, you should now have a tonne of nicely painted two-tone grey tiles. Are yours not so nicely painted? Well, thats ok too. Its art and art is subjective.

So, that two-tone scheme is a really fast way to get paint on your tiles, but there is no reason to stop there. In fact its a good idea to add more colours to the tiles as all that grey, even with accents, can look a bit monochrome en masse.

I am going to show you here some ways I have added a bit more colour and texture to my collection of terrain. One is as easy as it can be and uses something you are guaranteed to have in your house. The second requires buying a GW paint (although there may be other substitutes out there). The third uses paints you probably already have, and the fourth requires an airbrush and some specialist consumables.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

1. Pencil edging. For this, all you need is a simple graphite pencil. If you run it across the edge of your tiles and the edges of raised areas, you can give your tiles a subtle outline that will add definition and a metallic sheen. This is great when you want to fool the eye into perceiving your tiles are made of metal. Where you have salt-masked your tiles, concentrate the pencil edging on places where the darker 'base' colour shows through.

Its hard to photograph though >< In the above picture, you might just be able to pick out the thin dark line along the beveled edge of the tile. I have done it on the edge of the raised square in the tile's centre as well. 

 Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

2. Washes and Sponging. For my floor tiles I wanted to produce an effect that simulated the combined weight of thousands of footprints, containers and gear, and general atmospheric dust on the surfaces. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Steel Legion Drab is great for producing nondescript dust-coloured washes, particularly as a contrast to the grey colour of the tiles.

I tried not cover the entire tile in wash - I wanted some areas to look a bit closer to their 'intended' colour than others - an made sure the wash got into the recesses and corners as this is where dust and dirt would naturally accumulate. You have to be a little bit careful of pooling though. In the picture above it can look like some of the tiles have got tea stains on them. In real life its a bit more subdued than the camera makes it appear, but you want to avoid tide marks when the wash dries.

I have also sponged on some darker colours, like Scorched Brown, in a few places. I used a packing sponge, just like in the speedier guide, but I smeared rather than dabbed this time. A real industrial floor can be a patchwork of colours and spills, the trick is making yours look random. Again, its art.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

3. Blood for the Blood God. GW released a handful of technical paints just before Christmas. Most of them I don't see the point of, but Blood is a good one. You can splatter it, drag it, and pool it, and it dries to a gloss and looks like fresh human blood. There were ways to simulate blood before this paint of course, but this paint just looks fantastic.

In the picture above you can see the same tiles from the previous shot, with a little BftBG dabbed on. Here's another photo of tiles from the same batch with washes and Blood.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

4. Weathering powders. Weathering powders are like painting black magic. Everyone has heard of them, but few have used them. Or know how to. Its mainly beardy types that build scale models of tanks and stuff. But, I'm here to tell you, they are surprisingly easy to use, with a little care, and can produce some great effects on your terrain.

 The first thing I did with them was add some to the wash I used on the floor tiles, then reapplied it. I used a mix of earth coloured powders, although I probably used too much of the darker ones in places.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

If you look closely at the gaps between the square in this tile, you can see how the powders give the wash a granular quality. Basically it makes a more muddy than dusty powder.

You can also just apply a few spots of powder to your tile and smudge them in with a sponge. This is a great way to simulate soot, scorch marks, and the general accretion of dirt you might see in a place like the Deadzone.

And finally, here are three videos demonstrating how to use weathering powders with thinners and an airbrush to dirty-up your terrain facades. The front bits.

To start with, I sprinkle weathering powders onto wet thinners I have sprayed onto the tiles.

Then I spray some more thinners onto the powders, allowing it to form a paint-like liquid and flow into the recesses of the tile.

The finishing touch is to cover the dried powders with a matt varnish to seal them in.

I reshot the last video in the sequence for two reasons. For one, I had the camera set at the wrong resolution for the first run through, which is why parts 1 and 2 are a little blurry. For the other, I went a bit heavy on the powders on the batch in the first two videos. So I have shot a different batch in the last vidoe, one that is a bit lighter, a bit more dusty than muddy.

Deadzone terrain tiles weathering painting guide

I went in a bit lighter on the first batch I weathered too. I think the patchy dirt is more effective looking than the heavier mud for this type of terrain.

That then is how I am weathering my tiles and breaking up all that grey. As always, if this has been helpful, please click on the ad because it helps me buy more weathering powders :) And comments, questions, or suggestions are also equally welcome below.


  1. Really loving the tutorials, thanks so much for the help. My only criticism would be the quality of the video footage. It's basically unusable considering the fine level of detail you're trying to show us how to achieve. It may be too low resolution or too compressed, but it ends up looking like the camera lens has been smeared with vasaline and no detail can be seem. The photo by contrast are excellent and really show the end result of your efforts. Hopefully by watching the videos via the links yourself you will see what I mean. Thanks again for the really great tutorials. If you can get the video quality as high as the rest you will really be onto something because everyone loves a good video!

  2. Sorry the quality of the video isn't so great. This is just me and the wife with my camera phone ;) I guess I'd say the important thing is to see how something is done, rather than fine detail though.

  3. Hmm, not sure why its done that, but I shot the videos in HD and Youtube is only putting them out as 480. I'll investigate.

  4. Nope, I screwed it up and set the camera to the wrong setting >< Oh well, you live and learn.

  5. Excellent tutorial! Really like the technique of weather. I am thinking to adopting another techinique for the mud weather using powder custom made out of coffee bean! I got this coffee grinder and that may just do it I will have to find others tones like tea or species ;) Who said that deadzone could not smell good!! I will post on my blog the pictures and follow up on my public FB page

  6. When you say "added weathering powders to the wash" did you mix up a batch and paint it on or apply the wash and then dust on the powders?

    I tried using a wash in place of rubbing alcohol (for previous terrain pieces I'd dusted, then dripped rubbing alcohol and it would run down the piece, pulling some powder with it) and that did not work very well.

  7. I added powders to the wash I had on my palette, then applied it to the tiles.