Weathering tanks for the 31st Millenium


Up from the motherfucking idyllic coastal regions of Colchis!

In this article I’ll go over a few techniques I use to weather my tanks, these have been predominantly word bearers tanks so if you’re starting a XVIIth army then this is a good place to start. that said, the techniques are mostly things you can use over any paint scheme so worry not if you’re painting up a different legion.

The techniques are all military modelling skills, and will give your tank a much grimier, dirty look and feel to the bright GW/’eavy Metal schemes, if thats the look you’re after then theres going to be little of use here. If you want your tank to look like its actually just driven off a real life battlefield complete with dings, mud, smoke, oil, and burn, then read on.

First up, I’m starting here with a base coated Predator. The metallic red was covered in my previous article here. Same technique just on a larger scale. The gun metal parts of the chassis were done in a base of black/bolt gun, then dry brushed with chain mail, then vallejo steel to build up the texture. Tracks were done in a similar way but starting with a base of pure bolt gun. The gun barrels were bolt gun/chain mail then drybrushed with AK gun metal, this is like rub n buff and gives a really solid metallic shine. Well worth picking up some of this, the links here.

What were after here is a new looking tank, one that looks pretty fresh, with a nice neat paint job. you should add your transfers here too, as any muck/chipping will occur of the tanks chassis and therefore over any markings. dont worry if some of the decals get obscured by weathering, that happens in modern day tanks and would on the battlefields of the future too.


This is your basic paint job with the acrylic efx like heatburn added. Looks good enough for the tabletop.

Now, once you’re happy with your basic tank, you can begin making it look worn. I usually do mine haphazardly but this time im doing it in layers so you can follow along much more easily.


Take your time and build up that chipping slowly.

First up is chipping. There are loads of ways to do this, but were limited with the metallic base, painted on chips with highlights over the layered reds doesn’t work so well, nor does chipping fluid, so well use a sponge to create the wear. you can hand paint some light scratching on though, maybe a mix of mithril/chainmail and keep them fine, when you’re sponging, as I’ve said before, rotate that sponge plenty to avoid recreating the same “chips” and work up really slowly, layering finely gives a much more realistic effect. As were going for a darker feel, begin with black/bolt gun and work from there via bolt gun to chainmail, i usually leave it there. Concentrate on the areas with most wear, round the tracks, any moving parts, steps/access etc.


Few more layers of chips on there, the gun metal of the barrel really shins too.

You’ll see your tank really coming to life now. Well concentrate on the acrylic efx first before we seal it and hit the oils.



Nest up well do the bolters and gun barrels, they were washed with blue ink mixed with varnish so it grips the metallic paint, then soft tone/sepia, same mix. This adds some tones and more realism. The end of the main gun barrel was airbrushed snakebite leather, rhinox hide then black fading toward the barrel.

Now we’ll seal all the acrylic layers and the transfers with johnsons klear with the airbrush, nice slow passes, thin layers, you dont want to flood it, just coat it in a gloss layer from all angles, get right into those corners, underneath, the lot. Once that’s done, you’re finished with stage one.

I decided to add some rust on this one just to go through the technique, mix yourself up some orange weathering powder/crushed pastels with burned umber oil paint. I’m not the best at this as getting the consistency and mix is tricky but its come out alright here. Flick it on to the chassis where you’d get rusting, dont go overboard, just a little to add some depth and interest. I loaded a brush and used an empty airbrush to splatter it in but however works best for you. Then airbrush white spirit over them. some will disappear, some will stay randomly, and it looks just like rust. I added an extra dimension by using an almost dry brush with the barest amount of clean white spirit on and dragged it down the bodywork in places, streaking the rust but you can just leave the blobs if you prefer that look. I concentrated on the metal lamp housing and the turret sides.


You can see the streaked rust from the steel light housing and the rivet grime pulled downwards on the front corner here.


Once thats dried off, you’re going to be adding a pin wash, I went over that in the fellblade article but just to recap, mix up some burned umber and lamp black oils with white spirit to a thin paint like consistency, do it in a foil lined palette. If you press the mixture to the creases in the foil and the capillary action runs it round, you have the mix right. You need to just press a loaded brush, synthetic not sable, to all the rivets, panel lines etc to create a fake shadow, it makes the vehicle pop and adds another layer of depth.


Those light scratches we did earlier will fade with the buildup of layers of weathering.

Fire a hairdryer over that and when its almost dry, do the same as we did with the rust, use a clean brush and blend the harsh edges out, and if you’re feeling confident, pull down the rivets and panel edges to get a streak. This isn’t as easy as it looks to get a realistic faded streak, but one tip i can give you is do it in a V motion. So work downwards, going right to left then left to right pulling the oil down, it gives you a nice triangular streak that fades at the bottom, no harsh lines. Same if you’re using a pre mixed streaking fluid. If you stick to that, you’ll get it right every time.


You can add any other enamel products here, ive added some AK streaking rust over the previous rust on the metal lamp housings, and blended in some AK scaled rust colours in areas that are high wear here and there just for some more points of interest. These will mostly be just visible under the sand and dust well add later but as in real life, all those layers will come together to create realism.

Next well blast a light coat of your chosen dust colour, my armies in a desert theme so i used zandri dust for all the bases and dust layers, dilute this pretty thin and airbrush it over the running gear and where dust would build up. Check some real world tanks for ideas on this as we want this to be believable.

Next ups the powders, this is entirely up to you, many people dont bother, and leaving off here is just fine, your tanks gonna look really good. But if you want to push it that bit further, gram some powders and get cracking. I use secret weapon powders, i like the ultra fine texture of them and they go on nicely, bu whatever you like to use is fine. Just build them up slowly, in layers, so you get texture variation and colour tones in there. Watch yourself with the black round the exhausts too over these metallic paint jobsm you cant knock them back with more base coat. Keep it minimal and to the exhausts etc and you’ll be golden.


Heres the full model, few bits of rust, plenty of dust, streaks buildup on the sloping turret, none of it is too much, it should just blend together.

Final seal in a few layers of matte varnish to seal everything together and you’re done. As ive said before, DO NOT blast your model hoping to seal the powders as the moisture in the varnish will soak up the powders, mist on a few very thin coats.


The lenses all have gloss on them to add a bit of a different texture.

And thats it, from start to finish, hopefully the stuff weve covered is useful and you can port it to your own legion whether you’re doing XVIIth or whatever, the techniques and stages will be the same. Any questions, just drop me a line on here.

2 thoughts on “Weathering tanks for the 31st Millenium

  1. Hey Paul, LOVE this army, I have a decent size word bearers 40k collection too, but I was wondering… How do you get the amazing cracked earth affect on your infantry models (especially the Gal Vorbak)? It looks great, and atm I am deciding whether the new agrellan earth technical is worth getting or if I want a different effect… yours is perfect!
    Thanks and keep up the good work!

  2. Hi Jacob, the bases are a mix of home cast scenic using basius, a few bought resin desert temple ruin ones and the Vorbak are just mixed gravel you can get on eBay. All painted up the same way, gives variety but keeps them in theme.

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