Basic Weathering Colors


Some basics to beginning the weathering process on your equipment.


I've noticed that weathering articles seem to focus on specific techniques to replicate different weathering effects. Here in this article I'll show you some basic colors that can be used as a base for weathering, or used in those weathering techniques. Please follow along as I show the colors, and their uses.

The Rust-oluem Rusty Metal primer can also be replaced with Krylon Ruddy Brown. It is best used for priming trucks, and wheels. Use sparingly on trucks, not all trucks are heavily rusted. The rust color works best for newer roller bearing equipped wheels. I use painting masks, available from American Model Builders, MinuteMan Scale Models, and Modeler's Choice to hold the wheels while painting, to avoid having to clean the tread of the wheels.



This color works well for anything that would have been delivered new painted black. It replicates a basic dirty black. I use it on underframes, trucks, wheels, vehicle chassis, & vehicle tires. This color works better for a base color on solid bearing equipped wheels then the rusty metal color used for roller bearing wheels.

Just about everyone knows about flat finishes. The most popular flat finish is Testors Dullcote. I buy the glass bottle, and use my airbrush to spray it on. Outside of the Dullcote, you can pick up just about any flat finish. I've found that Krylon's clear flat works well, but should not be sprayed directly over decals, use a clear gloss layer over the decals first.

Since this article was written (2010), I've switched to using Rustoleum Clear Chalkboard spray paint more often.  This clear paint has the dead flat color we're looking for, as it's designed to be sprayed on items to make them into writable surfaces with chalk.

Weathered Black is available from Floquil, Grimy Black from Polly Scale & Floquil, and Tarnished Black from Polly Scale. These 3 colors work well for areas that would have been delivered in black paint. Makes for a good base faded/dirty black color on trucks, wheels, and underframes. Use in conjunction with the Krylon Camouflage brown.

Floquil and Polly Scale have been discontinued, but great paints are still available from Trucolor, Testors still carries the basic colors in the Model Master line, and others.

These are the “four basic weathering colors” used by most modelers. They are best as artists oils, or gouache. The can be found in art stores, craft stores such as Michaels & Dick Blick, or the art section of stores like Wal*mart. These colors are usually used to make rust spots on freight cars. I prefer to work darkest to lightest though it does not truly matter. Can be thinned a number of ways, though Odorless Mineral spirits or Micro Sol seem to work the best for me. The artists oils cure slowly, so the “damage done” can be reversed with a rag moistened in the thinner of choice.

These colors seem like they would not be needed, but trust me they are! Black oils make for good greasy spots on freight cars, such as solid bear truck journals. White works well for streaking letters. Can be thinned and removed like the previously mentioned colors, when artists oils are used.

© 2010, 2019, Josh Baakko,