Dealing with natural metal finishes is one of the trickier tasks with which we are faced from time to time. Although there are lots of different color brands available, weathering it all down can be somewhat of a chore.
I recently tried to achieve a rather beaten up and dull finish on the exhausts of a F-14 Tomcat and found that working with pastels gave me a lot of control over how the finished piece would look like. So here it goes.
First, airbrush the surface with your favourite brand of metalizer. I use Testors Metalizer as I find it very easy to work with and more forgiving than Alclad. After polising it up a bit, I use Testor’s Sealer, as it creates a tough finish without altering the color’s sheen.
Now comes the fun part. What we need is pastels (dark grey or black work very well) and a pigment fixer. I have the strong suspicion that these fixers are nothing more than odourless turpentine with some additives, but they do work and do not attack our base color.
With a wide flat brush, cover the entire surface with fixer. You don’t have to go overboard here, we just want it to be moist.
While it is still wet, start applying your pastels. It will look awful at the beginning, so don’t panic!
Next, take a large soft brush and start stippling the pastels into the surface. You might want to wipe off your brush in between to remove excess pastels. At the same time, you can add some other colors, like browns and oranges, to add variety. By changing between a stippling motion and actually brushing in one direction, you can achieve different effects on the surface.
When you are happy, leave everything to dry. You can speed up the process by blowing air from your airbrush – at this point the pigments will already be fixed in place.
Finally, the most important step – roughing it up. With a rather stiff brush, start scrubbing the surface. Start lightly and see how the surface reacts. Try different movements, circling and brushing as you go. I used a very stiff brush and although I gave it a good scrub, I did not damage the metal surface.
That’s it! By varying your metalizer paints and pastels, you are able to create a variety of different finishes and amounts of weathering.