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 Tutorial: Armor Painting and Weathering (using a helmet as an example)

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(Crossposted by request from the Haran'galar forum:) Will try to keep this updated in time with the other. As always, don't be afraid to ask questions!)

Hello, everyone.

As the Russ'alor for Haran'galar, part of my duty is to assist you with armor builds and to provide help whenever I can to make the process as painless as possible. Beyond that, I promised to share this information -anyway-, and I think that's part of what a costuming club should be about. So, regardless, you're stuck with it!;)

I posted an extended version of this tutorial on my Facebook page a couple of months ago, but I promised that I would share an edited version here for the clan. This is a basic, step by step guide to painting and weathering Mandalorian armor, using the most obvious and noteworthy part of our armor - the Helmet - as an example for the techniques being demonstrated. These techniques can be used by anyone with a willingness to learn, and I've tried to keep them as "user friendly" as possible. That said, if you are intimidated, confused, or simply curious about any of the posts that follow, please do NOT hesitate to ask questions . You can only learn by asking questions, and it does me no good as a teacher, nor does it do you any good as a student, if we do it any other way.

I am, as a matter of principal, totally opposed to the "well, you can only learn it by doing it yourself" or "I did it, so can you, so don't bother me" schools of thought in regards to costume building or painting. This does our hobby no favors. So again, I reiterate - ASK QUESTIONS, and DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED if what I'm saying seems to be "impossible." A lot of this did seem impossible to me when I started painting and building things many years ago, but with some kind assistance and more than a little bit of practice, I was able to get it down.  I hope I can pass that on to you.

To facilitate easy learning, this will be a multi-post tutorial.

Before we get into the meat, let's talk about what you'll need to prep for painting a piece of armor. Remember - I'm using a helmet here as an example, but these techniques can be used on anything from your bracers ("gauntlets") to your pauldrons ("shoulder bells") to your greaves ("shin guards".)

1.0 Pre-Painting/Weathering Prep-Work:

1.1 Forming and Assembly

You will first need to ensure that the piece of armor you wish to work with has been thoroughly prepped for painting. That means trimming it, forming it, and assembling it as much as possible prior to painting. These processes are covered extensively in other sections of the Mercs site, so for the moment, I'll assume you've arrived at that point, or that you've been  lucky enough to have a friend do those bits for you, so we'll assume that your armor has been formed and assembled at this stage and not dwell on the details.

One important point I'd like to make at this stage is that you should be sure that you have formed your armor properly using any of the techniques described on this site BEFORE painting it. This is because heat forming can damage and warp paint jobs, which can end up ruining the hard work you've just done!

IF you are painting a helmet, as in this tutorial, do NOT install the visor, any mesh for screening ventilation holes, any transparent pieces that you intend to keep transparent, etc. Do that AFTER you've finished the paint job. It may sound funny, but more than one costumer has made the mistake of installing, say, the lenses in his helmet and "masked them off" only to find that, after the paint job is done, he's somehow managed to paint over critical parts of that visor, reducing his visibility and ruining the appearance of the helmet.

If you're installing electronics, please wait to install those until after you're done with painting, as well. Painting electronic components can cause shorts, and LEDs don't exactly shine brightly beneath a layer or two of paint!

1.2 Sanding

If your armor is comprised of "capped" plastic or resin (usually armor not normally intended to be painted; pieces of Stormtrooper Armor you may be drafting into service, for example), you'll need to be sure to sand the piece with fine grain sandpaper or a Dremel (with a relatively light touch) in order to create a rough surface for your paint to adhere to. If the initial sanding process seems to leave -too rough- a finish for your tastes, simply repeat with a finer grain until you've smoothed it out to the texture of your choosing.  Another good step to ensure adhesion is simply to coat the entire surface that you intend to paint with brushed or sprayed on "clear coat" or "sealer." This is an additional layer of material to allow adhesion of paint. Matte coat is better in this case, as it's slightly grainier than a standard "gloss coat" clear spray.

If you're using metal pieces, I also strongly recommend sanding these, though they may not require as much work.

1.3 Washing

Next, you will need to WASH that piece of armor. Wash it thoroughly in a grease-cutting medium such as simple green or strong dish powder/soap, and allow it to SOAK in a solution of your chosen material for at least eight hours, before rinsing it thoroughly in cold water.

Why bother washing it? All plastic and resin pieces (with only a few notable exceptions) are produced using a technique that requires a material called "mold release agent" - this essentially a lubricating chemical that ensures a piece can be cleanly removed from a mold without causing damage to the armor, or to the mold itself. You should also wash any metal pieces you have, because metal (especially scrap metal) tends to accumulate grease and grime whether it's in use or sitting around doing nothing. Either way, washing this stuff off will allow your paint to adhere cleanly, with far less risk of the dreaded "orange peel" or "flaking" effects!

Now, please note that -some- 3D printed/rapid prototyped materials (be they plastic, metal, whatever) may be shipped to you with the admonition that they do NOT, in fact, need to be washed. This may well be true. However, I recommend that you wash them -anyway-. This is for two reasons.

1. Because some 3d Printing materials (particularly fine detail materials) do in fact usually come with a thin coating of one substance or another that can have strange chemical reactions with your paint brand(s) of choice.

2. Because the 3d printing process -always- leaves dust behind in cracks, crevices, and grooves. It's better to wash a piece thoroughly to remove that extra detritus before painting, because if you discover it afterward, you'll find that the dust/debris will loosen over time and fall out, leaving you with an embarassingly bare looking piece of plastic!

Once you have all of that done, you're ready to move on to step one of the painting process: PRIMING.


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Armor Painting and Weathering, Part Two:


Priming is the act of spraying (or brushing) a substance onto a surface to provide a base color to that surface and to provide better paint adhesion. Primer comes in a variety of forms, but for the purposes of this tutorial, we are looking at two basic types:

a) Standard Primer
"Standard" Primer is primer designed to be painted over, rather than acting as a color that will be heavily incorporated into the final product. It typically comes in black, grey, or white. If you choose this route (and most do, since it's the easiest to find), I strongly recommend that you do NOT cheap out on this step. Buy a nice quality automotive primer with as fine a surface as possible. This will cost a little more, but you'll prefer the results, in the end.

BLACK primer is the most common "hobby" primer color these days. It is most effective as the first step when painting a metallic surface, or when painting DARK colors.

GREY primer is a neutral  color, most often found as automotive primer. It is a good color for keeping an armor coat as close to the color depicted on the cap as possible, as it works equally well with both dark and light colors. It's not bad for metallics, either.

WHITE primer is perhaps the hardest color to work with. It is really best for bright colors that you wish to accentuate (if you're doing a Mandalorian with, say, a light green or an orange shade, for example). It doesn't work well as a primer for metallics. If used for predominantly dark colors, it tends to lighten them.

b) Colored Primer

This is a relatively new substance that has only recently come onto the market. It is most often found in hobby and miniatures stores, because it was originally developed for painting miniatures (toy soldiers and vehicles) and scale model military vehicles such as airplanes, tanks, and warships.

Colored Primer is designed as an "all in one" solution. That is to say, it is both a primer itself (requiring no primer coat before being applied) and it is colored, so that it can be incorporated as part of your paint scheme. If you choose to pursue this route, I recommend the "ARMY PAINTER" range. Most of the colors they sell are quite good, and give a good impression. The only shade they do with which I've had any real trouble is their bright yellow shade, which tends to go on a little watery.

I like using Colored Primer because it saves me time, and because it happens to come in a variety of the military shades I prefer to use for painting Mandalorian Armor (which I feel should be more 'Spartan' and less '1980s Wrestler', but that's just an opinion.)  Another excellent aspect of this particular type of primer is that most brands ALSO produce "touch up paint" designed to mirror, more less, the color of the color primer. So, they're very good when doing multi-color applications on a costume piece, and for touching up pieces that you happen to "mess up" during the painting process. Touch up paints are always "brush on" type paints, incidentally (so no spray/rattle cans, in this instance.)

Potential challenges for this primer are twofold.

First, it is more expensive than most standard primers.
Second, it can sometimes have odd chemical reactions with other brands (rustoleum does NOT like this stuff, for some reason.)

In either case, getting a "spray" primer, as opposed to a "brush on primer" is highly recommended. Spray primers leave a more even coat, and dry more quickly.

2.1 Planning Your Color Scheme

Before you pick out a primer, of course, you're going to want to think about your color scheme. I would recommend starting, at minimum, with a base coat in a silver or gunmetal shade. The vast majority of Mandalorian armor is made from one form of steel or another, after all, and it helps as a base coat both for weathering and for setting up the proper "color depth" when going for a realistic look.

Such a metallic base coat can be acquired by priming in BLACK or GREY and then  painting on the base color (which we'll get to a little later), or in pre-tinted COLOR PRIMER (most brands of which include at least one 'silver' or 'gunmetal grey' type shade.)

In any event, think about your color scheme before you go out the door buying paints.  Do you want to go with a single shade? (fairly rare for Mandalorians), do you want to do a two or three color scheme? (more common), or do you want to go for the "rainbow effect?" Whatever the case, try to practice a few schemes on scrap paper or by  using the "Mando Maker" app before you go out and spend your hard earned money on paints.

2.2 Pre-Primed Armor

Occasionally, you will get very lucky, and a vendor will provide your armor pre-sanded and pre-primed. This is most common with helmets, since they require no forming, but you will occasionally find other pieces prepped in such a way. If that's the case - congratulations! Your vendor has saved you a step of work! You may still need to do a bit of priming, however, on the surfaces that have been exposed by trimming or sanding.

2.3 Materials Needed for Priming

To Proceed, You Will Need the following items...

- Your primer of choice
- A dry, well ventilated area in which to paint
- A surface on which to place your armor (cinder blocks work very well for this) while painting it.
- The armor you wish to paint
- Practice material

2.4 Application

Spraying a piece of armor requires some practice, but it isn't nearly as hard as you might think. Start with practice material (trimmings from your armor if you've previously assembled it are -great- for this kind of thing), do a practice run, and see what happens. You can adjust your spraying technique -and- see how the paint you've chosen will react with the material you're using.

What you want to do is to apply a series of quick, light coats, rather than one heavy, thick coat of primer. This is best achieved by using the "Flicking" Method. Flicking is, simply put, moving your spray can rapidly back and forth whilst constantly pressing and releasing the spray button in a rapid, flicking pattern. In other words, while spraying from left to right, don't keep the spray release button pressed throughout the pass - instead, flick it on and off, so that you are applying a series of quick, short bursts rather than one continual stream.

Why do we do this? That's a fair question. It's essentially done to prevent "glopping" of the paint, or overspray, which can both provide thick, gloppy, unpleasant surfaces of paint.

Once you've finished taking a pass over the entire surface of your piece, you should allow it to dry. Most primer dries relatively rapidly (and spray cans will tell you how long to wait between coats). If you see any spots you've missed, you can hit them on the next pass. Try to minimize coats, at any rate, because the more coats you apply, the thicker the paint, and the more the detail of your armor will be obscured.

Be sure to prime every surface of the piece you're painting. You may not intend to paint the back of your chest plates, but they should, at minimum, receive a primer coat - this will reduce the amount of visible raw plastic, and provides a three dimensional look to your piece.

2.5 What NOT to Do

Do not, I repeat, do NOT spray prime (nor paint) your piece by using the common method of holding the piece in one hand and spraying it with the other. Why?

1. You will leave finger prints, streaks, and other marks.
2. You will likely overspray, adding too much thickness here, too little paint there.
3. It's sort of a pain in the butt to remove the painted piece of armor from your hand after you've painted it without risking damage to the piece.

Got that? Good! Now get to it! When you're primer coat is thoroughly dry, you'll be ready for your next step(s): INTERIOR COLORS (for helmets) and BASE COLOR. If you've used a COLOR PRIMER and you intend to use that as your BASE COAT, guess what? You're already one step ahead.

For example, here's my "Celtic" Mandalorian bucket, base coated in a gunmetal grey COLOR PRIMER. Saz, who produces these beautiful pieces, does pre-prime them in a VERY high grade automotive primer, but I needed to re-prime mine slightly because I had to trim out the visor and ventilation holes.


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Armor Painting and Weathering, Part Two Addendum: Helmet Interiors


It is a common practice amongst costumers to paint the interior of their helmets. Not everyone does it, but most of us do so when painting enclosed, non-stormtrooper type helmets. So, why would we do it? There are a few reasons, but in no particular order, some of the more cogent points to consider are as follows.

First, for reasons of "extending the illusion." Nothing ruins a fan's day more than looking at a costume of a favorite character or character type and discovering that something is -obviously- not right. I'm not talking about being a stitch Nazi here. What I'm speaking of would be along the lines of exposed flesh  on a stormtrooper, a big gaping hole in Darth Vader's sleeve, or, in the case of most armor, any indication that what you're wearing is ordinary, earth plastic. Yes, everybody except the smallest of kids is going to realize that you are wearing plastic, or metal, or what have you, but going out of your way to DISGUISE that fact helps to extend the illusion, both for the viewer and the wearer. Part of this is done via the simple exigency of painting the interior of a helmet, concealing the plastic or resin interior thereof. Raw metal helmets -can- go without being painted internally, but you'll probably want to paint the interior because...

Second, painting the interior helmet goes a long way toward regulating the temperature inside a bucket. I know that sounds crazy, but it's true. It's something that's been known since metal helmets began being worn commonly in combat again around 1914. The discovery was that a helmet with a painted interior was less subject to the extremes of temperature (heat and cold) than a helmet left in its bare metal state. So, by painting the interior of your helmet, you're essentially making it slightly more "livable" over the course of a long trip.

Third, it helps reduce the feeling of claustrophobia. Some costumers who experience claustrophobia report that painting the interior of a helmet actually helps them to forget they're inside a confined space like a helmet by focusing their attention not on the raw plastic or metal inside, but on the eyeslots and ventilation holes. Can't say if that's true, but I've got a couple friends who swear by it.

Finally, painting the interior of a helmet actually makes attachment of padding (something you're going to want to do, at some point, especially if you ever plan to wear the thing outside) slightly easier. Most padding is attached via "stick on velcro" so that it can be adjusted as necessary, and such  material simply adheres better to a painted surface than, say, a raw plastic or metal surface.

Again, these points are all debatable, except for the first - helmets with a painted interior simply LOOK better. Painting the interior adds the illusion of depth, conceals the material that the helmet has been constructed from and, as a bonus, darkens the helmet so that it's harder to see from the outside of your visor!

2.A.2 Choosing a Material for the Interior

You have two options when painting the interior of your helmet. The first, and most common, is simply to spray the interior with your primer color of choice (though many costumers argue that grey or black work better than most interior colors.) The second is to use a material called "plastidip."

Plastidip is a material that was originally developed to coat the handles of tools and make them easier to use. That's not important, so much as what it can also be used for - to cover the interior of a helmet, or to help pad a prop. Plastidip comes in a spray form, which can be found in most hardware stores, and it does come in multiple colors (though  yellow seems to be the most common, which is somewhat problematic if you want a dark helmet interior - though I'm told it can be painted over.) I've never used plastidip myself, but people who do it swear by the method as the best possible means of covering the interior of a helmet.

The disadvantage? Unless you mask carefully, the plastidip can and WILL fill in your ventilation holes, which can make things a bit stuffy inside. It's also, as I understand, something that requires a bit of practice to use properly.

2.A.3 Materials Needed

You will need the following materials to cleanly paint the interior of your helmet:

- A well ventilated painting area
- Something to lean the helmet against while it's being painted/drying.
- Masking tape and scrap paper
- The spray of your choice

First, using the masking tape, and pieces of scrap paper where necessary, mask the openings in your helmet from the OUTSIDE. DO this to prevent your interior color from pouring through ventilation holes and your visor and possibly staining the exterior of your helmet. This is not a terrible tragedy if it happens, but it can be a pain to have to repaint your primer color or base color if you've already applied them and the internal color of your helmet happens to be a different shade.

Very simply, prop your helmet against a convenient surface (again, a cinder block will do nicely), and spray the interior, much like you would have sprayed the exterior. Allow it to dry.

That's about all there is to it:) Once you're sure the internal paint has dried, remove your masking tape and scrap paper. Now you're ready to move on.


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Armor Painting and Weathering, Part Three: Base Color


The base color of your armor is almost always the color of the material that your armor would be built from, were it actually to have been constructed in the Star Wars universe. This is typically a silver or gunmetal grey color, but there is precedence for bone, bronze, and tinted metallics of various shades if you wish to go that route.

Base color is particularly important for Mandalorian armor because, quite frankly, people tend to go out of their way to kill us a lot of the time. This means weathering, and weathering means exposing the base color in select areas.

Again, the color of your base material is your choice, but if you're doing anything but the earliest forms of Mandalorian armor, that base material is going to be some sort of steel alloy: usually Mandalorian iron (Beskar Steel) or Durasteel. That means silver or gunmetal grey, though again, there's precedence for tinting alloys.

I strongly recommend that once you pick a base color, you STICK WITH IT for all pieces of your armor. Unless you've got a Mandalorian who's wearing, say, a piece of armor made from an unusual material (say, some sort of Krayt bone piece), the base material should be consistent throughout your kit. It will also make your weathering look more realistic, which will make it easier for you to get approved. So it's win-win.

3.1 Materials Required

- A dry, well ventilated painting area.
- A place to put your armor while you're painting it (AGAIN: Avoid that "hold it one hand and paint it with the other" trick. It can REALLY go bad.)
- Masking tape (and scrap paper, if necessary)
 Scrap material from your armor or helmet trimmings.
- Your base color of choice.

I tell you to get scrap material from your armor or helmet trimmings because of one simple fact: paints are made from different chemicals, depending upon the manufacturer, and these paints react differently to different materials, and with other paints. So, ideally, when doing this (or any other) stage of the process, if you're using different brands of paint, I STRONGLY recommend doing a test coat of that stage's layer over the previous layer's paint, just to make sure that the two brands of paint like each other and don't do anything strange for you (bubble up, peel off, change color in a bizarre way, etc.)

3.2 Masking

While you're waiting for your test paint to dry, take the opportunity the interior of your helmet from the INSIDE. I usually find that some scrap paper is required for this, in order to prevent going through rolls and rolls of masking tape. Block off any areas that are opened to the outside by taping/papering over them from the inside.

3.3 Application

Once you're satisfied that the base color of your piece will work well with your other pieces, then get to painting. Once again, working with the "Flicking" method to prevent too heavy a coat. Cover the whole surface of the helmet, and allow it to dry THOROUGHLY. Seriously, you want the base coat to cure to a paintable/sandable surface, and that may require you to wait at least 8 or more hours before moving on. I usually wait overnight, at minimum.

Why do we have to wait so long for this step?

We wait this long because all weathering, regardless of the methodology we choose to use, is going to ultimately get down to this level at some point. That means that we need the base color to be -strong- enough to resist sand paper, salt etching, etc. If we don't allow it to cure properly and then paint over it, we'll end up with spaces of raw plastic or metal where that base color is supposed to be. And that, my friend, ain't good.

Why is raw metal a bad thing?

Ok, yes. You could theoretically leave bare patches of metal. But metal corrodes. And that reduces the lifespan of your helmet over the long term. If you need an in universe reason, consider this: durasteel requires a GREAT DEAL of exposure before it rusts. Mandalorian steel -never- rusts (at least according to the current sources.)

Once the base color is done, it's time to look at the plans you made earlier for the color scheme, so that we can begin layering colors and weathering.


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Armor Painting and Weathering, Part Four: A Few Words on Color Layering and Common Techniques


Before we move on to the next steps (which are easy, Mandalorian's honor!), I wanted to take a brief amount of time to talk about color layering, and some of the more common techniques used to create various effects when painting props and armor. I won't be considering true weathering here - only the basic stuff (like dry brushing), but we'll be getting to that very soon!


There are a few basic rules about colors, in general, when painting. While it is possible to break them by finding the "right mix" or applying them in "the right way," knowing how various colors interact with each other on when painting can be of great assistance to you.

Generally speaking, darker colors paint more easily over lighter colors. That is to say, it's far easier to paint a helmet white, and then to add a red stripe, for example, than it is to paint a helmet red, and then to add a white stripe. While using spray paint can mitigate this problem somewhat, you should keep in mind that, as a general rule of thumb, lighter colors are always going to be easier to paint over with darks rather than going the other way round.

For example, I'm currently planning a white and green build. What I would -like- to do is to "halve" the armor - that is to say, one half white, the other half a dark green. If I were beginning with the helmet, the easiest thing for me to do would be to begin with a white coat all over and then to mask off half of the helmet, leaving the rest of the white exposed, and then painting green (via spray can or brush) over the exposed area. I could certainly do it the other way, but if the white goes on too thinly, or it runs, there's a very good chance that the green underneath would be clearly visible, and that's not really the effect I'm going for.

Metallics, on the other hand, paint much more effectively over DARK shades than they paint over LIGHT shades, and better over METALLIC shades than they do over DARK shades. A coat of bronze looks far more convincing painted over, say, a black section than it does painted over a white section, and even better when it's painted over silver. There is one exception, however, and that is the "Non Metal Metal" theory of painting.

When painting various layers of color on your Mandalorian armor, keep a few things in mind. First, recognize that most Mandalorian armor we've seen in the movies and the comic books uses a minimum palette of colors. There is certainly variety there, but we're talking about three, maybe four colors, as opposed to an entire spectrum. If you want to use additional colors, there are some creative ways of doing this, which I'll discuss when I get to Layered Weathering.

Second, try to remain consistent. If you're doing, say, a half white/half green helmet, then repeat the pattern you used for other pieces of your armor. If you painted white first, then green, do the same on your chest pieces where necessary, even if you decide to go for a different configuration (say, a green outline with a white center, will work much better when doing the white first, masking off the center, and doing a green outline.) These are mercenary types, after all. Armor is a personal statement, but trying to paint armor as if you're the Sixth incarnation of Doctor Who may be slightly out of place...

4.2 Non Metal Metal Theory and How to Use It in Costuming

NMM Theory was developed by miniatures gamers, specifically by gamers who wanted to create metallic effects for their armies but who flt that the actual use of metallic paints and pigments was actually a detriment to their work - looking more like an illusion than the real thing. While we don't have this problem in painting props and armor (metallics generally look quite realistic when used properly, on large scale projects), we can learn something from it, and that is, very simply, that the best base colors for metallics are often their non-metallic equivalents.

What am I talking about? Take copper, for instance. Look at a penny under a light for a few seconds, and try to get a look at the actual -color- of the penny, minus the sheen of its copper coating. What color do you see? Reddish brown, most likely. As such, one can get a -lot- of depth by painting copper sections of ones armor over sections that have previously been painted reddish brown. The same can be said of bronze - what about a very light brown? Or how about gold? What about yellow? And silver? Grey is an excellent base color for silver paint.

I am NOT advocating that you paint all of your metallics using the "Non Metal Metal" method. Instead, I'm simply suggesting that you take a page from that playbook, and consider using the non-metallic equivalents of your paints as base colors for metallics that you'd really like to see "pop" in the finished product.

This isn't really necessary, or even required, but it can add some surprising depth to a paint job. Give it a try!

4.3 Highlighting

Highlighting is a common method of painting taken from the pages of the color theorist's handbook. This is not strictly necessary, but I have done it with my pieces, and I believe that it works wonders when properly utilized. Consider trying it, if you're feeling brave.

Highlighting is essentially painting a lighter shade of the color you've already applied -over- the previously applied color to create the artificial impression of light. While it can be done with a spray can, it's best done with brush paint (hobby acrylics work best - don't try to do this with latex house paint!.) The basic method is to hold the piece you wish to highlight up to a light source or, if you happen to be outside, hold it up so that the sun reflects on it. Then, using your brush, highlight the areas of the piece that the sun or light source touches, creating the artificial effect of illuminated armor plate struck by the light or, more appropriately for what we're doing, bleached to a lighter color because of prolonged exposure to the sun.

4.4 Shading

Shading is essentially highlighting in reverse. What you're doing when Shading is to create an artificial shadow in the recesses of your armor. This is best done by painting between plates with a dark shade of your color (or simply using black) to create areas of shadow between the various elements of your piece. Again, this can be done with a spray can, but I find it much easier to do with a brush on hobby acrylic.

4.5 Black Lining

Another technique, black lining, is the act of outlining an area in black. It is most commonly used to make certain areas of detail "pop." For example, my wife Boudicca has a pauldron with a Mythosaur skull. The pauldron itself is bronze, and she didn't want to paint the Mythosaur skull in any other color. Nevertheless, she wanted to call attention to it, so she chose to "black line" the skull by carefully tracing the outline of the skull, along with the internal cracks, eyesockets, etc... using black hobby acrylic. It "pops" beautifully - you can tell that the skull is there, but the black lining method she's used not only adds depth, but also draws attention to the skull itself!

4.6 Drybrushing

This is a very common artists trick, used to create areas that appear to be highlighted and or/weathered. It's one of the easiest "advanced' techniques you can learn, and can be a really nice final touch when every other bit of your painting is done.
Drybrushing requires selecting an area of color, then finding a slightly lighter version of that color in a brushable form.  You then use a paint brush (a small hobby brush is better than some sort of big "house painting" brush, and a used brush at that, since drybushing WILL destroy a brush over time) by thoroughly saturating that brush in the lighter shade, then wiping the brush on a convenient, lint free cloth (such as an old washcloth) to remove as much of the paint as possible. This leaves only a trace of the lighter pigment on the tips of the brush. One then quickly flicks the brush over the surface of the paint one wishes to drybush, leaving a lightened effect that can be used for highlighting and/or aging.

This technique, incidentally, also works wonderfully for creating mud splatter on armor plates. Get a good shade of brown, preferably the color of dried mud, and try it out!

4.7 Washing

"Washing" as opposed to "washing with soap and water" is the technique of drenching a piece in a diluted solution, intended to add a depth and a final finishing touch to a piece. It works beautifully for giving Mandalorian armor one final "used" look.

Washes come in a variety of forms. Some, like Army Painter "Quickshade" are essentially watered down floor or furniture polish. Others are inks, or simply mixes of pigment and solution intended to go on with various degrees of thickness. Once again, they are best applied with brushes (or even sponges) rather than spray paints. (Some advanced painters can do amazing things with airbrushes too, but I'm afraid I don't quite have the skill for that yet.)

My common method is to wait until the entirety of my armor piece is finished and then to coat the piece in my wash of choice (usually the Army Painter "Quickshade" in Medium tone, a sort of watered down dark brown), wiping off excess with a lint free cloth until I have a look I'm generally happy with, and then WAITING for it to dry.

Washes can be found for a variety of uses. Your best bet is to check out hobby and craft stores. You can find rust washes, patina washes, dirt washes, various ink washes in hundreds of colors... a huge variety of stuff. So look around and see if anything catches your fancy. If nothing else, consider doing a very basic wash by mixing black hobby tempura paint with water at a ratio of about 60 percent water to 40 percent ink. Brush a bit on a piece of test material. See how it looks. Water it down further if you think it's too dark, or add more paint if you think it's too light. Repeat as necessary.

A few general tips when using a wash of any kind.

1. Always wait at least twenty four hours before doing anything else with a piece you have washed. This is particularly true of "Army Painter" and "Magic Dip" type formulations (the ones made using furniture polish or some variation thereof.) They take a very long time to dry, and you want them to be completely dry before applying any other washes or a final sealer coat.

2. It is possible to use various washes for various effects. Patina for bronze pieces, rust for exposed bits of metal, etc. If you have a "final wash" in mind to tie it all together, however, do this -last-. Dirt, grease, and grime look better and more natural -on top- of patina and/or rust rather than below them.

3. Start out by watering down the wash thoroughly, brush it on, and allow it to dry for at least an hour. If it looks like what you'd imagined, then leave it to dry for another 24. If it hasn't, then use a slightly thicker formulation. Repeat as necessary until you have the look you're going for.

4. White armor pieces, and the details therein, can be given considerable depth via the use of a grey wash. Try a light grey first, and go darker if necessary. You can use a black or brown wash, but keep in mind that these will make the white look dirty rather than adding depth, initially. If you want both depth and dirt, consider using the grey wash first, allowing it to try, and then adding the other stuff.

Ok. I've talked about this technical stuff long enough. Time to get back to painting the helmet. But I do hope that some of this has proven useful to you.


With it, or on it.


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Armor Painting and Weathering: Part Five - Your First Non-Base Color


At this stage, you have applied your base coat and allowed it to dry thoroughly overnight. You're now ready to begin the process of actually painting the thing in your personal livery, unless you're committed to, say, an entirely metallic silver build. At this stage, you will need to make what may seem a trivial, but nevertheless important decision, and it is this:

Are there any sections of this piece that you do NOT want to weather? If so, the time has come to paint them -first-. If you want to weather -all- sections, however, then you can forget about all that, and get straight to the fun part of beating it all to hell.

5.1 Application of a Non-Weathered Coat or Coats:

You will require the following items at this stage:

- A dry, well-ventilated painting area
- A place to put your armor while it's being painted/drying.
- Your colors of choice for the non-weathered area(s)

Applying a non-weathered coat is basically the same technique we used for the base coat, with a couple of minor differences. The first thing you will want to do is to mask over -all- of the areas of the piece that you DO intend to weather. As usual, block of any openings, too, if you don't want the color you're spraying to end up inside the helmet or in an area you don't want it to be.

In the case of my celtic helmet, I wanted to highlight Saz' elaborate scrollwork, dragons, and celtic knots by painting those sections in bronze, which I did not wish to damage in the traditional way. I intended to add a patina, but I wanted the bronze section to appear to be bronze or bronzium alloy, which meant that I didn't want any of my base color showing through.As such, I masked over all areas of the helmet that I did not wish to paint in bronze. This required a lot of tape, and a bit of scrap paper, but it was worth it in the end. I used a high quality painters masking tape, and I recommend that you do the same - cheaper stuff has a tendency to leave behind "artifacts"(ie: gooey stuff, bits of tape, etc.). It's worth the extra dollar or two to do it right, rather than to do it cheaply.

Once you have masked off any areas you wish to protect, spray using the same "Flicking" technique I taught you earlier. As usual, it's better to do a few light coats than it is to do one heavy coat. This is particularly important if you're doing a coat you do not wish to weather, since such an area usually involves details you want to preserve (like my celtic knotwork, for example.) When this is done, allow the non-weathered area to dry thoroughly and then, if you plan to paint another color that you don't wish to weather or damage, mask the previously painted area, expose the new area you wish to cover, and repeat the process.

Once all non-weathered areas have been painted, then allow them to dry and cure thoroughly, so that they remain solid and undamaged over the long run. Don't mask areas that haven't cured well! Always give them time to dry!

5.2 Starting with a Weathered Coat

If you intend to do a weathered coat, you will want to consider the following, before we even get in to the various techniques used to weather a piece of armor: where do I want to weather, how do I want to weather, and how severe do I want to make the weathering?

Generally speaking, weathering takes one of three forms:

1. From natural sources (wind, flying debris, sandstorms, over-exposure to the sun, and the like.)
2. From the aging process (rust and patina)
3. From damage caused by weapons or environmental conditions (blaster and projectile hits, being suddenly slammed against a cliff face... maybe having to climb out of the acidic stomach of a Sarlaac...)

You will now want to consider which of these weathering techniques you'd like to use, when you use them, where you want to use them. This requires an additional consideration: Do you want to do "single layer" weathering", or do you want to try "double layer" weathering?

Single layer weathering is weathering that merely exposes the base color of your armor. Boba's dent, for example, reveals the silver of the metal alloy his helmet was constructed from, in most versions of the Boba costume. That's it - green (or whatever color he's wearing at the time), surrounding a big silver dent.

Double layering is a slightly more advanced technique that is used to create the illusion of layered coats of paint. Some sections of Boba's armor, for example, were initially painted silver, then painted yellow, then painted green. Weathering was then done to expose the silver at points of impact, but to reveal traces of the original yellow shade around this, followed by the majority of the color, which was green.

Neither of these is as impossible s it sounds, so please don't panic. In the meanwhile, we need to consider where we want to weather, and that is where we'll go next.

For the moment, here are some images of my celtic helmet this stage. At the time, I masked off all areas I didn't want to paint bronze, and this was the result.  The first images show the initial look of the helmet after masking and painting. The remaining images show the helmet, with masking tape removed, showing the bronze areas and the gunmetal grey sections of the helmet. You'll note that there are "artifacts" once I've unmasked the helmet - bits and flakes of bronze that somehow got through the masking tape. This is almost inevitable, and if it happens, you shouldn't flip your lid. All will be dealt with in time!:)


With it, or on it.


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5.3 Weathering Overview

I've talked in the previous post about the various kinds of weathering that one sees when one is looking at armor. Now, it's time to delve a little bit into deciding where you'd like to weather.

Most of my knowledge of armor weathering comes from studying and being around armored vehicles. This is, quite simply, because nobody in the modern world is wearing the kind of body armor that we see in Star Wars (at least, not yet.) Armored vehicles are an excellent case study because they go through hell on a regular basis. Anybody who has ever been around one of them, known anyone who's been around one of them, etc.. will tell you that a "showroom quality" tank is meant for the parade ground, and even after the parade ground, it's already lost that "just off the lot lustre."

Another great source of information for weathering can come from looking at warplanes. Warplanes are almost always painted, and with the exception of a brief period in the 1950s when unpainted, highly polished aluminum was the rage, that's the way it's always been, since the first aircraft went to war around 1909. Aircraft also weather,  and weather hard. Paint just doesn't remain perfectly affixed to an airplane, unless it happens to be at the Smithsonian or the Imperial War Museum. Even then, things happen. Paint ages. Metal oxidizes. Temperatures can affect the surface tension of paint, etc.

When studying the weathering patterns on armored vehicles and aircraft, you tend to notice something very quickly. Armor and warplanes that are used for any length of time weather most quickly on the parts that are most likely to be:

a) Struck by enemy fire
b ) Exposed to the elements
c) Used by crew

What that means for us, as painters of Mandalorian Armor, is that we must consider the damage we do to our armor by asking the following three questions.

1. What kind of weathering am I representing here?
2. Where would that kind of weathering be most likely to go?
3. What kind of pattern would it create?

First, what kind of weathering? As I said, there are essentially three sources for this.

1. Natural Elements
2. The Aging Process
3. Damage caused by enemy fire

Natural elements weather in fairly distinctive patterns. Sand storms, blown debris (gravel, for instance), and hail tend to leave what we call "chipping" on the surface of armor. They leave small, exposed areas of base material that are sometimes discolored due to the nature of the natural phenomenon causing the weathering. Thorns, heavy underbrush, rocky surfaces and the like cause damage that is most likely to appear in the form of scratches. Corrosion caused by natural elements tends to follow the same process as the Aging Process.

The Aging Process isn't something we see very often in Mandalorian Armor because neither Durasteel nor Mandalorian Iron/Beskar Steel rust particularly easily. When they do begin to rust in a particularly notable way, they're more likely to be abandoned or kept as an honored relic rather than used in the field (when a piece of armor begins to corrode, it loses its protective qualities). More often than not, you're going to see aging and corrosion based weathering with low quality materials, materials exposed repeatedly to the elements, or in materials, like bronze and bronzium, that will gradually change chemical composition over time, creating a "patina" effect. In all cases, corrosion tends to work from the top down, and from the inside out. To put it another way, it will be darker at the top of a piece of armor plate, lighter toward the bottom. 

Damage caused by the enemy is another matter entirely. It can occur in a variety of forms, and  appears in a variety of ways. Mandalorian armor doesn't tend to cut too easily, be it Beskar steel or Durasteel, so we're mainly looking at surface effects and occasional dents, which damage the paint,  rather than causing significant surface damage.  Ballistics weapons tend to leave "strike" marks - the point of impact followed by a streak where the round ricocheted off the surface of the helmet; Blasters tend to leave "splash" damage - a point of impact, surrounded by an irregular pattern, almost as if someone has spilled liquid on a helmet; Lightsabers leave long cut marks, usually distinctively darkened by carbon scoring; and claws, bladed, weapons, etc, leave long scratches. Blades tend to leave various, fairly even scratch marks; claws tend to be grouped in threes or fours, and follow a slightly wavy pattern as the animal or attacker skitters its paw or weapon down the side of one's armor.

More primitive energy weapons, or non-blaster type weapons are somewhat unique in that they tend to leave minimal patterns. A single, clean blast point is more indicative of a shot from a precise laser rifle, for example, than the messy splash damage caused by a blaster!

5.6 Where to Add Weathering

Weathering is most likely to occur, in all cases, in areas most likely to be exposed. For most kinds of damage caused by the enemy, or by environmental factors, these are, first and foremost, raised areas of armor - ridges along knee pads, the edges of gauntlets or greaves, the area of the knee that a sniper is most likely to be putting most of her weight on when she takes her shot, the raised details on a helmet, and most areas with distinct right angles.  When deciding where to place damage caused by your enemy, or by moving through rough terrain, consider the following:

1. Where would my enemy strike me if firing at me or using a melee weapon?
2. Where would I scratch my paint job if moving through a copse of thorn bushes, crawling up the side of a cliff face, hunkered down in a sand dune, etc?

Fortunately, you have a lot of leeway with the former. An enemy could quite literally strike you anywhere, given the opportunity, so you can really go hog wild when determining where and when the enemy has struck you with weapons fire, melee weapons, claws, etc.

In the case of the latter, just use common sense. The center of a knee pad, the edges of a gauntlet or pauldron, the earcaps of your helmet, etc.

When doing other "naturally" based damage, caused by wind or sandstorms, for example, think about the surfaces that would most likely be exposed to such damage. The crown of your helmet, for example, would probably take a lot of punishment from a harsh sandstorm. So would the corners of your T-visor area, and the lines dividing your cheeks from your mandibles. Exposed respirators? Those would probably get hit hard, too.

Once you have considered all of this, you can now begin prepping to weather. Consider doing a very rough sketch of your piece and marking the areas you intend to weather or, if you're feeling adventurous, mark those areas off on your helmet with a pencil or a crayon.
DO NOT, I repeat, do NOT use dry erase, wet erase, or permanent markers. And DO NOT use pens. Ink of any kind tends to bleed through paint, and if you've marked all the areas you want to weather with a sharpie, you really don't want those sharpies showing through what is otherwise a very competent paint job.

A few things to consider when planning weathering.

1. Weathering is symmetrical in only ONE instance - when it is caused by an artificial, carefully directed source, such as a laser rifle. Blasters don't leave perfectly round marks. Blades will skitter over the surface of armor, no matter how well directed. Animal claws leave ragged slash marks, not straight lines. Rust doesn't develop in neat, carefully isolated patterns.

2. LESS is more when Weathering. Too much damage and you'll simply overdo the effect. Consider Boba's Armor: it's beaten to hell, but there are areas where the paint is still very much intact. He looks like a soldier, not someone who's been sleeping in a rock tumbler! If you look at your armor when all is said and done and you don't think you have done enough damage, then do more at that stage. Don't damage 90% of the armor and then decide, after the fact, that perhaps you wanted someone to know there was a little paint on it, too.

3. AVOID SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE IF POSSIBLE. If using Mandalorian steel, this is a no-no. Mandalorian steel may occasionally be dented, but hat is the exception to the rule. It doesn't rust, and it isn't punctured easily. If it is punctured, or sliced (this stuff is supposed to be able to resist a direct hit with a lightsaber, afer all!) then what in the galaxy are you doing wearing it? Punctured or heavily damaged armor is COMPROMISED armor, and it needs to be discarded. Save the really awful bits, filled with holes and rusted ten ways to Tuesday, as trophies of your past exploits, and wear them as such. Don't make them part of your protection scheme.


With it, or on it.


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Armor Weathering and Painting, Part 6: Painting your first weathered coat.


There are a variety of methods used for weathering armor, and just about any experienced painter is going to add to the ever growing list of them through experimentation or the sheer luck of discovering something. However, what I'd like to do in this step is to show you how to do two different kinds of weathering - one very basic method that every Mandalorian should know, and another method which is slightly more complex, but quite rewarding. Fortunately, anybody can do both with a bit of practice and intestinal fortitude:)

6.1 Using Masking Fluids and Masking Mediums for Weathering

Masking Fluids, also known as Masking Mediums, are a variety of materials that are designed to be used, in lieu of masking tape, to protect part of an artists surface while she's adding another coat of paint at another point in her work and doesn't want the two pants to mix. As costumers, we can use these materials to do just that, but we can also use them to do a very nice trick, which is to deliberately prevent certain areas from receiving paint, hence "exposing" the layer of paint below and creating an excellent weathering effect.

When choosing masking fluids or mediums, you have several choices. There are a number of artists "masking fluid" type products on the market, mostly consisting of various forms of liquid latex and designed with the idea that you apply, then allow them to dry, paint over, and then peel them off.

The problem with artists masking fluids is that they are, for the most part, uniformly thin, and very difficult to work with. In addition to being hard to position on a curved surface (such as a helmet, for example), they are so thin that a good coat of paint may obscure them to such a degree that you'll soon have forgotten where you actually PUT the masking fluid. I have used several, and I've never been satisfied with any, but I do find that, if carefully manipulated, they can make for excellent blaster "splash" damage. This, however, is something that requires some practice, and I really don't recommend it for your first go.

The second option is to use a "home made" masking remedy. Now, everyone has his or her own favorite masking medium. Some people use toothpaste, some use peanut butter, even mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup, and they all swear by them. But I would like to suggest that you stick with the safest of these: the first I've mentioned, that being toothpaste.

What do I mean by "safe"? In the first place, when using a food product to mask, you have to be absolutely certain that once you're done using that product, you've -completely- ruined it. A food item can go rancid (unless you use honey, and yes, some people even use honey to do this), but it can also add odor, and, even if thoroughly removed, it has a tendency to stain plastic. Let me give you an example....

When I painted my Rebel pilot's helmet a couple of years ago, I had never weathered a large scale piece before, and I was looking for something to use to do the "masking" method of weathering. I'd tried masking fluid from the art store and I wasn't impressed. However, one individual had posted a tutorial on another forum suggesting that the best masking fluid he'd ever used was Mustard. Plane old, ordinary yellow mustard. The material, he said, was great, because it was thick enough to stay on, and to remain visible under a coat of paint. It was also, he said, more likely to dry, and as such, made handling a masked piece easier until you were ready to remove the masking medium (the mustard.)

Unfortunately, I took his advice. It certainly did work well for creating interesting weathering patters. And I had no problem finding it! But, in the first place, it didn't dry at all, and in the second place, it did something rather nasty - it completely stained my white plastic helmet yellow in every location I'd applied it. I scrubbed and I scrubbed, but I never quite got all of that mustard tone out. I was not pleased.

Instead, I prefer toothpaste. Toothpaste is useful because it's designed to be applied, manipulated, and then rinsed away. It's thick enough to be noticed under a layer of paint, and if you happen to miss a piece of it here or there, the most offensive smell you'll notice is a rather minty flesh aroma....

6.2 Application of Masking Fluids and Masking Mediums

In order to do this, you will need the following tools:

- The armor piece you're working on
- A pair of gloves (latex gloves, gorilla gloves, really anything that allows you to manipulate things with your fingers without leaving prints)
- A toothbrush and or/regular brushes.
- Masking tape.

Begin by selecting the first color you'd like to weather. In this case, I was working with a desert themed helmet, with predominant shades of desert yellow (also known as "Afrika Mustard") and a good medium grey. Both are Army Painter color primers ("Desert Yellow" and "Uniform Grey," respectively.)

Once you have selected the color you'd like to weather, use your masking tape to mask off any areas that you don't wish to paint in that color. In my own case, I had already painted the t-visor area and the rear plaque in bronze, but I wanted to begin by painting the dome and the mandibles Desert Yellow.  So I masked off the bronze areas, as well as the areas below the helmet "ridge" (the line that typically divides the top and half of a Mandalorian helmet) minus the mandibles, and left the other areas exposed for weathering and painting.

Next, find a comfortable spot to sit, and begin applying the masking material. What you're doing here is "drawing on" the damage to the coat you intend to paint on next. Think of it as sort of painting in reverse. Instead of adding bits of your base color to the top of your first standard color coat, you're instead covering select areas of that base color so that they will be exposed once the first standard color coat is applied.

Manipulate the shape of the material by using your fingers and by using the tools I've suggested. Look for the natural weathering spots I mentioned previously: right angles, raised edges, places more likely to be struck by weapons fire, and apply it there. Don't like the way something looks? Did you leave a fingerprint? Wipe it off with a lint free cloth and a bit of water, dry the spot, and then try again. Toothpaste should not adversely affect or stain the vast majority of paints, so you should be fine doing it once or twice before you decide upon what you're looking for. Remember... less is more. So start out lightly. You can always add more weathered bits with your next color.

Once you've got the areas masked off with your fluid or medium, either set your piece aside to add another kind of weathering material, or place it in your painting area and prepare to paint over the whole thing!

Here, you can see images of selected areas where I applied the toothpaste to create damaged/worn effects. You'll also see some elements of salt chipping (which I describe below.)

 The first area I began with sort of suggested itself. When my helmet was shipped, a very small portion of the dome was dented (very slightly.) I could easily have fixed this but I thought to myself, "Hey, Boba's got a dent, so I want a dent, too" and I left it there. Seemed like a good place to start for leaving bare metal, and I sort of worked from there.

6.3 The Salt Chipping Technique

"Salt Chipping" is the slightly more complex method I mentioned earlier in this post. It was originally developed by model airplane enthusiasts to represent the effect that wind and debris can have on an aircraft moving through the sky at a high rate of speed - a kind of splattered pattern of various chipped areas, exposing the color of the airframe metal below. It was subsequently used by model railroaders and model tank builders, and now it's becoming popular with wargamers. As a very convenient incidental to us, it also works pretty darn well when doing up a piece of Mando armor.

In this case, I wanted to expose an area of my helmet to show that it had been affected by the elements, particularly the violent sandstorms and weather patterns of the planets I typically work on. I decided that the line of the front edge of the dome, near the crown of the helmet, was an area that was very well exposed to such environmental effects, and I wanted to use Salt Chipping to reflect this.

In order to use the Salt Chipping technique, you'll need the following:

- Masking tape (if you haven't already used it for this stage)
- 1 x Medium Artists Paint Brush
- 1 x Shallow dish
- Salt with large crystals (Kosher or Sea Salt work best)
- And access to water....

Assuming that you've already masked off the areas you don't wish to weather at this time, then we can move on. If not, go ahead and do that now, then come back.

Ready? Ok!

Begin by mixing together a soloution of about fifty percent water and fifty percent salt. If you need to add more salt, do so. The point here is NOT to dissolve the salt, but rather, to create a sort of "paste" of highly saturated salt.

Next, dip your brush into the solution, and get it saturated nicely with the salt. Then drag that salt encrusted brush over the areas you wish to "etch" or "chip" with the salt. Once you're satisfied with all the coverage you want, for this round of painting, rinse your brush thoroughly and set the helmet aside. Within a short period of time (usually an hour or less), the water inside the salt will have evaporated, leaving the salt encrusted in the areas where you've painted it, and more or less stuck on well enough to remain while you apply the next coat of paint. Trust me - what it does will really please you, when all is said and done!

The example photos below show my helmet with the masking materials added for the first coat.

Here's an image showing where I applied my salt chipping formula. You can clearly see two, ragged lines across the front of the dome.

6.4 Painting over Weathering Materials

This bit is quite simple. Just paint as I've suggested before - with the "Flicking" technique, and get the coverage you need, and allow the entire thing to dry for a good, long while. Don't worry about your masking materials - chances are, they won't dry, and that's fine, because it actually makes them MUCH easier to remove. All we're concerned about here is an nice, clean coat. Here are some shots of my helmet after that initial coat of desert yellow was added. I have intentionally avoided adding the full front shot of the helmet, and this is because I want to use it to illustrate another technique - double layered weathering.

Once the paint has dried, you have two options. You can either prepare to do a double layered weathering job (which I'll explain in my next post), or you can go ahead and remove the weathering materials. These are removed quite easily - simply find a running source of water, a sponge or lint free cloth, and completely remove the masking material. You'll find that the paint on top of that masking material simply falls away with the masking material itself. No harm, no foul. That's the point. The paint may have cured, but it cured on top of an uneven, temporary surface, and now we're simply "stripping that away" with running water and a tiny bit of elbow grease. At this point, you'll have some exposed areas of bare metal - and you'll think to yourself, "Hey, this looks awesome!" And it does. Pat yourself on the back and take a break. You've earned it, and you've already learned the most important essentials of weathering and painting!


With it, or on it.


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Armor Weathering and Painting, Part 7: Double Layered Weathering

Now that you have read through Part 6, you are actually fully prepared to weather a helmet. You can simply repeat those techniques over and over, by masking the areas you've already weathered and adding new coats, and repeating the process as necessary. Keep in mind my suggestion though: with Mandalorians, less is more. The more colors you add (aside from weathering, damage, etc.) the more "busy" your helmet becomes, and the less Mandalorian it tends to look to some eyes. That said , if you can pull off a rainbow colored Mandalorian (the old Rainbow Warrior space marines did look pretty cool!) then all power to you.

If you are satisfied with those basic techniques, you can skip ahead. If, however, you want to try something a little more advanced, then here it is: double layered weathering. Completely optional, but totally appropriate and very good for those with a Boba Fett-ish;)

7.0 Double Layered Weathering

Double Layered Weathering is the use of weathering techniques to reveal TWO "undercoats" of paint, not just one. (In fact, you -could- do it for multiple coats, but that tends to get messy, so we'll stick with the double layered method for now.) Have you ever taken a good look at Boba Fett's armor? A -really- good look? If so, then you'll notice something quite interesting. Various parts of his costume(s) make use of double layered weathering. Some pieces, for example, show an overall green scheme, with chipping and damage revealing a yellow coat (maybe the colors he was wearing for the Holiday Special or Droids?;) ), and finally giving way to the iron base color of his durasteel armor. In other words, it begins green, with a large scar in yellow, and a smaller scar in the middle of that point of impact showing silver. Pretty slick. And actually, it's not that hard to accomplish.

What you will need to do this will consist of the following:

- An already weathered section of your armor that you wish to "double layer"
- Your weathering medium of choice (again, I'm using toothpaste)
- Masking Tape
- The appropriate paint to create that next layer of weathering (in my example, Uniform Grey)
- As usual, all the well ventilated, spacious, DRY painting area I've been asking you to find.
- Patience

Now, this is last bit is important. For Double Layering to work (or triple layering, or whatever you're bold enough to try), the initially weathered area(s) MUST have completely cured. This is essential. Otherwise, it simply will NOT work.

Begin by masking off the area that you have already weathered OR, if the weathering material you are using hasn't yet been removed, you can save some time by simply leaving it on, and removing it with the rest of the stuff that you'll remove when this stage is over. (This actually saves a lot of time, so again, pre-planning your color scheme is an excellent skill to develop.)

Once your previous weathering work is safely protected from the next coat of paint, and once you've masked off any other areas you wish to protect from this next color (whatever it may be), trace an area using your masking material AROUND the previously weathered areas.

For example, I began with weathering down to basecoat with a color of Desert Yellow.  My dome, however, was always going to be Uniform Grey. In my mind, the armor was sold to Tacitus Grell in a desert yellow color. He subsequently modified it with contrasting areas of grey and his own personal insignia. Thus, the dome was originally yellow at some point, but it had since been overpainted with grey. Following so far?

So, instead of washing off the toothpaste (my weathering medium) at this stage, I surrounded the areas of toothpaste already safely ensconced beneath my previous work with larger areas of toothpaste, preserving a ring of the yellow paint around selected areas of weathering. The most obvious was the helmet dent I'd already weathered, but I picked a few other spots.

Once you have added that second layer of weathering medium (in this case, I'd added toothpaste to preserve some of the desert yellow undercoat on the dome) then add your next color, using the "Flicking" technique we've been using so far. When you are satisfied that this new coat is applied, leave it to dry.

After a few hours, the area you've just painted should be thoroughly dry. You may then either continue with additional colors or, if you're satisfied, take the piece of armor and place it under a good source of running water (a sink or a hose work well), then, using a sponge, clean off all of the masking material. It should slough off pretty easily, even at this stage, but if it does not, consider using -very light- sand paper or a stiff bristled brush. Once that's all removed, wipe it clean and then dry thoroughly.

The following photos show my helmet in the midst of "double layering" certain areas of the dome. Note that I have not yet sprayed the grey overcoat at this stage, but I wanted you to have an idea what the heck I was talking about before I move on.

See what I mean? It's actually really easy. Just follow the areas you've already got masked, and add a few more! Successful application of this technique will lead to something like the following: (and check out how nice that salt etching turned out!)

At this stage, you are ready to move on toward adding another coat, if you like, or, if you're ready for it, to the next stage of painting: detail work.


With it, or on it.


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  • Awards Hard Contact - Clan with the most recorded invasions Recruitment - Clan with the largest number of new OM's in 12 months
Armor Weathering and Painting, Part 8: Finishing Up the Basics

8.0 Finishing the Basics

At this point, you have the skills to finish the basics of the rest of the piece (or pieces, perhaps) that you're working on. It's really just a matter of repeating the steps I've taught you and applying them again until you're satisfied with what you  like. It's all a matter of mask, weather, paint, mask, weather, paint, until you have a look you're happy with.

Could you stop at this stage? In theory, you could. But you will, at MINIMUM, want to seal the thing (so please see my section on that, posting soon if it isn't yet up, if you aren't familiar with the process.) That said, there is a lot more you can do with your helmet, and I'll touch that in Section 9 - Detail Painting.

IN THE MEANWHILE, Here's a look at where I was at this stage in the process. Pretty slick, if I do say so myself. And yes, I could easily have left it at this stage, sealed it, installed the visor, padding, and fans, and called it a day. But that would have been -easy-. And this soldier has a philosophy: with it or on it. Either I come back victorious, or I don't, but I -always- try. Better to try, make a mistake, and then try again later, then to stand on the shore of regretful glances, yes?!

Here's where I was at this stage. As you can see, I've used all the techniques I've told you about. Unweathered coats, single layer weathering, and double layer weathering, in various areas of the helmet. Variety is the spice of life, and in combat, no two sides of an armored vehicle that has been in combat look exactly the same - the same is true of any good set of Mandalorian armor.


With it, or on it.


  • *
  • 92
  • Awards Hard Contact - Clan with the most recorded invasions Recruitment - Clan with the largest number of new OM's in 12 months
Armor Weathering and Painting, Part 9: Detail Paint

I apologize for our interrupted broadcast. I hope you all enjoyed your holidays. Now, let's move on to the next step: detail work. If you have reached the point that you've done all the weathering on a helmet you can possibly do, and believe me, there is a point when you'll reach that (at least some trace of paint is err... encouraged), you will have two choices. The first is simply to spray seal the whole thing (we'll get to that later); the second is to continue with painting in the finer details and adding a few flourishes to set your helmet apart from the crowd.

9.0 Detail Work

Detail work is, quite simply, the painting of smaller detailed areas on the helmet in order to make them "pop." Unless you are very handy with an airbrush (hint: I'm not), then your best procedure in order to do this will be to find the colors you want in a suitable range of hobby paints, and a set of brushes for painting them with.

9.1 Where to Detail?

This is very much a matter of personal preference, and I can't tell you -where- to paint details, but I can give you a few tips based upon my own experience.

First of all, most Mandalorian helmets have some sort of "forehead lights" - this is some variation on the two triangular shapes found on Boba Fett's helmet. These would be a good place to start. Others have inscribed detail, ventilation slits that you've chosen to leave solid rather than to cut open, "key slots" on the rear, etc.

Armor will often have other areas for detail work. Gauntlets often have greeblies. Chest plates have various places for "chest lights" (and not everyone puts electronics in them), etc.

In my own example, I chose to pick out areas that I thought should be striking. In this particular case, I chose to paint the Mythosaur skull and sword motif on the rear bronze plaque of the Celtic helmet. I also decided that I would paint any "forehead lights" (if present), and that I would put in an inscription in Mando'a or Aurabesh. But more on that in a moment.

9.2 Selecting Your Materials

Now, hobby paints come in a variety of brands and quality levels. The basic "Apple Barrel" type you can get at the Michaels craft stores work just fine, but if you want to step up your game, slightly, most of the ranges designed for painting miniatures (Citadel, Privateer Press (P3 Paints), Reaper, Vallejo being the biggest names at the moment) are very good for this purpose. All can be cleaned up and thinned with water. In other words - you can simply rinse your brushes thoroughly when you're done and you'll be able to use them again.

 Army Painter bottle paints also work (these are their "Touch Up Paints"), but be forewarned - this is a much thinner formulation than most, and it can be hard to get the hang of working with it.

AVOID Testors bottle paints and anything in the "Model Master" ranges.  These are chemically different from most model paints, tend to have a different finish, and are much harder to work with and clean up (you'll need hobby thinner, or turpentine, etc.)  In fact, avoid anything listed as a "model paint" in general, unless you are very comfortable working with it, and you know -exactly- what you're doing.

Brushes should be good quality pieces. Nothing super expensive, but not the "ninety nine in a blister pack for five dollars" kind. You want something from a hobby or craft store, usually found in the artists/painters section. These will last longer, hold paint better, and be easier to work with. Plastic bristle brushes and low quality brushes tend to clog up easily and to "shed" bristles when painting. Not good! Sizes? That's up to you to decide. When painting armor, I'd probably go to a size '2' or a size '1' at the smallest. Smaller, fine detail brushes to exist, but you must keep in mind that the details you intend to paint (even if you're simply intending to paint on a slogan in aurabesh) should be visible to the intended audience.

9.3 Application of Detail Work

There's no other way to put this, so I'll just say it: detail paint requires a slow, steady hand. If you are nervous about not staying in the lines, or messing things up, you have three options. The first is simply to ignore it; The second is to let it go, and, when finished, cover it over with some sort of gunmetal grey paint to make it look as if it's just another section where your paint has flecked off; the third is to acquire some sort of touch up paint similar to the surface you're painting so that can cover over your errors when all is said and done.

REGARDLESS of how you do this,  you will likely have a few areas that will need to be touched up or patched over. Don't sweat it. This is part of the painting process.

Many people have different methods for painting details, but I approach them in the same way I approach painting miniatures. That is to say, I paint from the "inside out." To illustrate, let's consider the Mythosaur plaque on the back of my helmet.

I began by considering the overall cover of the Mythosaur skull. Most of these are depicted in red or green (but honestly, you can use whatever color you like.) I chose to go with red. Red contrasted well with the rest of my helmet scheme (in desert hues), and looked very nice on a bronze background, as in the case with the plate you see here. I began by painting the skull itself red. This was the "majority color," the color that defined the majority of the piece and the color upon which I'd be adding all subsequent detail (hence: working from the inside out, if that makes any sense to you.)

I deliberately chose to infer that these bronze plaques were actually bronze (or bronzium, if you prefer), and as such, I chose to give the paint job sort of a "rough" look - by deliberately missing pieces here and there to reveal the bronze beneath. My logic was that the paint had been applied over the solid metal beneath and that it would peel away first.

Next was to paint that sword. I chose a pretty basic scheme - a gunmetal color for the blade and black for the handle.

I finished by painting bronze over the eyes of the Mythosaur skull, since I'd inadvertently splashed some red into that area when doing the initial paint job.

Next, I looked for other areas to do detail work with. Often, it helps to try to do everything you intend to do in one color before moving on to the next, especially when starting out. So, I could have moved on to the forehead "lights" next, since I intended to paint them reddish-orange, a similar enough color to the skull that I could have gotten away with simply painting the skull and painting the forehead lights while I waited for it to dry.

Then, I looked for areas I could "add", rather than simply painting existing pieces to enhance them. I decided that I wanted some kill stripes  - those stripey bits you see on Mandalorian helmets upon which no two pieces of source material seem to be able to agree - and that I wanted an inscription. The kill stripes were relatively simple - I used a straight edge ruler and then sort of roughed them out. I didn't want them to be perfect, because I wanted them to appear hand painted. Both types appear in canon, so if you prefer a more uniform, decal like look, you can use decals, a stencil, or whatever you personally prefer.

Finally, I wanted an inscription on this helmet. Something that said something about Tacitus Grell as an individual. I wanted it to be hand written, but I wanted it to be legible. English is obviously right out (though the Arabic Numerals, ie: 1,2,3,4,5 are just fine). I initially started with Mando'a, but you know what? I discovered something - Mando'a is HARD to replicate with simple handwriting. It's an elegant script, for a better hand than mine. So, I decided upon Aurabesh. Equally striking, somewhat less elegant, more blocky shapes (hence, easier to paint on.)

I found a size 1 brush, selected a good color of black, and painted on the inscription.
(In case you can't read Aurabesh, or my handwriting, it reads 'Fortune Favors The Ruthless'.)

When doing inscriptions, remember that most mottos and inscriptions done on armored vehicles and body armor are done in the field, by the crew itself. They don't use decals or stencils. So, handwriting is FINE. That said, practice makes perfect. Practice, practice, practice. And when you're ready, get to writing!

I know that all of this sounds intimidating, but I assure you that if you do a bit of practice, and if you are willing to do a bit of touch up when you're finished, you'll be very happy with the results! And if you don't want to go to this level of detail, then DON'T. Nobody rational is going to ding you for it. This is merely a step further. And you can take it when you are ready!

Next up, we'll talk about Weathering with Washes, the final step before sealing!


With it, or on it.

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