Posted on by Metro Hobbies

So you’ve finished that dream model kit!  It sits there in front of you, you’ve made sure to follow all the advice, scraped those part lines, sanded those nubs down, and painted it up like the instructions said, but something’s missing. Your pride and joy looks a bit…plastic? Toylike?

Well, you can go a bit further into making that build a little bit more lifelike by weathering it.

Weathering adds dimension, makes tiny details pop out and turns a plain model into a winner.

The first step in weathering is a pin wash. Simply put, a pin wash is a translucent coat of thin paint applied to areas of surface detail like panel lines, nuts and polts, hinges and other surface detail. A wash adheres to the recesses around those details and makes them pop out from the surface paint adding more dimension and realism to the model.

This effect applies to all model kits - military, aircraft, trains, even cars , trucks and bikes! For our purposes here, we are trying it out on an Amusing Hobby 1/35 Conqueror Heavy Tank.

There are a few simple steps to achieving a good pin wash. Here is a quick and simple guide.

  1. Gloss coat your model. The first step is to spray a thin coat of gloss on the entire model if it isn’t finished in gloss. This can be the same gloss coat you sprayed on when you applied your decals. There are a few reasons for this. The gloss coat keeps your wash from adhering away from the detail and sinking into your base paint, darkening the model.

    Gloss helps the wash flow around the edges and into crevices by capillary action ensuring that each panel line and nut is defined. Lastly, The gloss coat protects the paint on the model from reacting with the thinners and solvents you will use.

  2. Now take the wash of your choice, be it a pre mixed manufactured wash or an oil paint solution and pour it into a small container. Take your thinner, and pour some into another container. Depending on how thick your wash is, you will want to dilute it with your solvent (usually paint thinner or white mineral spirit)

  3. Now, take a fine brush and load it with your wash/thinner mix and touch it to the individual bolts, crevices, panel lines and details and let the wash run around them and settle into the details. At this point, there is no need to be particularly need as long as you aren’t brushing broad swathes of wash on the model. Pick out the details and apply the wash in small amounts.

  4. At this point, the model will sort of look like a mess. You’ll be wondering why in the world you did this to your beautiful build. Patience! Let the wash settle and dry a bit, you can work area by area if you don’t have the patience at this point.

    After your wash is dry to the touch which can take a few minutes or an hour depending on the thinner you used, you should be ready for the next step.

  5. Now for the fun part. Take a broad chisel shaped brush and dip it in some thinner. Blot the excess off and in short downward strokes, start working off the excess wash around your details.

    Take care not to use too much thinner or rub the wash too much as you may erase all your hard work. Make sure that the wash is retained in all the nooks, crannies and panel lines of your kit.

    You can create some interesting effects where the wash flows down and creates streaks from individual bolts, rivets or details but make sure not to overdo it. Realism and restraint are key in weathering.

  6. Once you are happy with the effect, ( your model will look a lot more realistic at this point) you can go back and use various different shades and degrees of wash to give more depth to the effect.

  7. Now sit back and appreciate how much more realistic your scale model has become!

Here's a quick video we did of how this all came together: