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Posted by Serpent_Six

Every so often, when I sit down to paint some figures, I get irritated that I have to pull out the brush, yet again, and start painting. Controlling the brush strokes can be hard for many reasons: lack of sleep, too much caffeine, poor hand eye coordination, etc. etc. I thought it would be interesting to try some alternative techniques, just to break things up a bit. One technique I’ve heard mentioned often is sponging, which involves using a sponge (duh!) to paint with. I wanted to achieve a really rusty, weathered metal on my Menoth Wracks, and I thought that sponging might do the trick really well. Here’s how to pull it off:

Required Tools and Supplies:

  • Makeup Sponge(s)
  • Citadel Boltgun Metal
  • Citadel Brown Ink
  • Citadel Flesh Wash
  • Citadel Chestnut Ink
  • Citadel Blue Ink

Guys…you’ll need to raid your wife, girlfriend, significant other, mom, grandma, some female’s makeup kit to make this work. What you are looking for is a simple, round, foundation sponge. Take one of these sponges and cut it into four pie-shaped wedges:


The next step is totally up to you; I suggest taking the ‘point’ of each pie piece and snipping it off with a pair of scissors. This will allow you to cover more surface area with each ‘pressing’ of the sponge onto your miniature. Some would suggest roughing up the flat edge, to create a unique sponging pattern. If you choose to leave the ‘point’ on, changes in pressure when applying the sponge to the miniature often produce the same, unique sponging patterns.

The Wrack

I’ve already affixed the chains to my Wrack. For a review on how this was achieved, you may want to read my article. I’ve intentionally left off the human figure, as it’s much easier to reach the metal areas without it on. You can see that I’ve primed the model white. The nice thing about this particular technique is that it will work equally well with a white or black primed figure.


I realize I said I was putting the brushes down for this article, but I fibbed. You will need to use a brush to lay down the initial basecoat of Boltgun Metal. One coat is sufficient, as we’ll be sponging the metallic on again later on in the process.

Go clean your brush, we won’t be needing it anymore for this project!!

Let the Sponging commence!

The sponging process sounds like it takes a lot of time. We will need to sponge on 3 different inks, 1 wash, and our base metal color, between 5 and 7 times each! Fortunately, because we are sponging, the actual amount of ink that hits the surface is small, and dries quickly. Utilizing a lamp will expedite the process even moreso. Using this technique, I completed 5 Wracks in just under an hour. For me, a ‘normal’ metallic build would have taken significantly longer.

Brown Ink

The brown ink creates a nice base affect for our rusted, weathered metal affect. I’ll apply the most pressure when sponging this ink, as I want, more or less, complete coverage.

Flesh Wash

All rusted metals have an orangish-reddish tinge to them. I’m going to utilize Flesh Wash, followed by Chestnut Ink to create this affect. Red Ink and Orange Ink would provide similar results. Use less pressure with the Flesh Wash, and more applications, to create a more mottled appearance.

These pictures did not turn out as well as I would have liked. It may be difficult to see the difference between the Brown Ink and Flesh Wash applications onscreen. In real life, it is quite apparent.

Chestnut Ink

I may be starting to sound like a broken record now….. Use less pressure with the Chestnut Ink and apply in random areas on the miniature. By now you may have noticed that its difficult to apply the sponge to some areas. Specifically, any areas that the chains attach to the Wrack. At first glance, this may seem like a bad thing. In fact, it’s a shortcut to achieve a more realistic affect. The majority of the Wrack will be weathered and rusted, save for parts that are in contact with moving pieces of metal. Areas where the chains are dragged across the metal, in real life, will grind down the rust and allow the base metal to show through. As long as you are not applying too much pressure, this automatically happens using the sponge technique.

And again, my pictures do not do this technique justice. My apologies.

Blue Ink

You must pay the most attention on this step. The blue is used sparingly. Sponge very lightly, and not in as many places on the miniature. A little blue ink goes a long way.

Rinse, Wash, and Repeat

Now that we’ve gone through one ‘cycle’ of sponging, you’ll want to repeat the order of Brown Ink, Flesh Wash, Chestnut Ink, and Blue Ink at least 3 or for more cycles. This is totally subjective though; stop when you think it’s ‘weathered enough’. I’ll reiterate, when you come to the Blue Ink, use it sparingly! If you accidentally overdose, you can fix it by sponging on more Boltgun Metal.

Boltgun Metal, Part Two

When you are satisfied with the look of your mini, it’s time to apply some more Boltgun Metal. As with the Blue Ink, you want to apply this with little pressure. The idea is to sponge the whole mini, and have it speckled with grey. No area should be ‘coated’ with grey, just speckled.

Well, what do you know! Finally, a decent picture!

Rinse, Wash, and Repeat…again

You’ll need to knock back the grey again. Cycle through the sponging rotation another two or three times, until you are satisfied with the outcome. You should end up with something similar to this:


I really enjoyed trying this technique out. It finally allowed me to ‘get outside the box’, in terms of using different paint techniques. The other bonus, for me, is speed. The affect is fairly realistic in real life, and requires a minimal amount of effort. You don’t even need to highlight! Rusted metals rarely have a large amount of highlights, as the reflectivity is lost to a certain extent. The cons to this affect are: it can suck up a lot of ink. I was a bit surprised that it used as much as it did. But, I’ll gladly trade ink for time saved! You will also have to knock down the shine generated by the ink with a dullcote. I’d suggest Testor’s DullCote for that.

This technique can be applied equally as well to weapon blades. I should have a followup on this technique, applied to a few Manhunters axes!

Until next time…

–Serpent Six–