Posted on by Metro Hobbies

Getting realistic metal wear and making highlights stand out with a simple tried and true technique.

One of the oldest techniques in the modellers tool of tricks is drybrushing. It is primarily used these days to simulate worn shiny metal. Track links for instance are constantly abraded by the surface that tanks roll on, wearing the contact points into bright shiny metal highlights. Other parts such as shovels, machine guns can benefit a lot from a little metal drybrushing.

Drybrushing also used to be in vogue as a way of making highlights and raised detail such as rivets stand out, giving the model a 3D effect which usually complements a pin wash.

To drybrush, all you need is a metallic paint of your choice, usually silver or metallic gray, a flat brush. (A well-worn one will do as the technique will be rather rough on it) and some textured paper.

Decide which surface you’d like to highlight and plan which direction of strokes would be most realistic. Tracks for instance are drybrushed generally using strokes in the direction of travel.

You will not need a lot of paint. A few drops will suffice. Wet the tip of your flat chisel type brush with the metallic paint and then rub most of it off on your paper until the brush is almost completely dry. Don’t worry it it looks like you’ve rubbed all the paint off. You really don’t need too much.

Now, take your-almost dry brush and rub it vigorously along the surface you want to highlight. The remaining metallic paint will catch the highlights and rub off on them. Go slowly, watching the effect improve over several passes. You don’t want to do too much and turn your model silver. Use photographs as reference. As the brush loses more pigment, once again dip it in paint and repeat the process. Do not clean your brush between passes. Thinner or water will make the paint flow and will ruin the effect.

Drybrushing for highlights follows the same process but in this case use a lighter shade of your base color. You can for instance lighten some dark green with a little bit of dark yellow or buff. Don’t lighten the paint too much - or else in the words of the Late Great Shep Paine: “ Your model will look like an accident in a flour factory). Again, go slow, and subtlety is key.

You can even do worn whitewash effects without chipping by using this technique. Simply paint your vehicle in white and drybrush the base color on your model using downward strokes. More drybrushing works for more worn whitewash.

Drybrushing is a fun simple technique that adds load of realism to your model!