Weathered Metal Effect Tutorial

15 May
Photo by CB Lindsey

Photo by CB Lindsey

During the amazing eight hours that we were in costume at C2E2, we received a large number of compliments about our work weathering and distressing our helmets. This was a very time-consuming process on larger pieces but it’s fairly simple to execute.

Materials Needed

  • Black Acrylic Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Paper Towels or a Rag
  • Q-Tips

Painted Weight

First off, if you’re going to be adding this weathering technique to a piece that you’ve already painted, make sure that your paint has completely dried. We’re going to be applying black paint and then rubbing it off and you wouldn’t want your first coat of paint to smear.

In this instance, we’re working with craft foam that’s been shellacked and painted with spray paint. We’ve allowed it to dry completely before we started working on the weathering.

Next, using your paint brush, slather on the black acrylic paint. You can put it on thick because you’ll just be wiping it all away in a few moments. You don’t want to cover too much of the surface in the paint at the same time or you run the risk of it drying before you have a chance to attack it with the paper towel or rag. Take it in sections. It’s alright if some spots are uneven; in real life things don’t usually get the same amount of dirty in all places, right?

Weathering the Weight

Wipe Paint off WeightAs you can see in the picture above, we’re just wiping the paint away with an old dish rag that we decided to sacrifice to the Cosplay gods. Remember, the goal here is not to completely wipe away the paint. The goal is to leave just enough to make the piece look dirty; as if someone had tried to clean it once but done a terrible job.

If you rub off too much of the paint, go back and reapply. Keep at it until you’re happy with the amount of grunge.

You can also use a Q-Tip to really get into the nooks and crannies. In the example below, Daniel used a Q-Tip to heavily apply the paint in the small holes of the weight.

Weathered WeightIn the case of Subject Delta’s helmet, we used a thinner brush to get in between all of the cap nuts and Q-Tips to get in between the panels on the top of Eleanor’s helmet. It’s pretty easy, albeit time-consuming but the results are worth it as you can see below.

Subject Delta's Helmet Painted Subject Delta's Helmet Distressed

We learned how to do this by watching a tutorial put up by Valentine Cosplay, a fantastic cosplayer we’ve been following since we had the pleasure of stumbling across his blog. He has a You Tube channel filled with little gems if you’d like to check him out.

Weathered Metal Effect Tutorial

Hope you found this helpful!! — TCG


5 Responses to “Weathered Metal Effect Tutorial”


  1. Level 9:1 – Upgrade Footwear | Co-Op Campaign - May 15, 2014

    […] For the distressing we decided to keep it simple. We did a light, dry brushing of black acrylic paint, let it dry briefly for 10-15 seconds and then rubbed away most of the excess with cloths and q-tips leaving behind the desired amount of grit and grime. We did this all over the boots themselves as well as the brass, metal “sled” and leather strapping with buckles. We paid special attention to certain areas such as the grooves around the cap nuts and other nooks and crannies. We wanted to make sure that these areas had the highest concentration of grime, just like you would see with natural wear and tear. You can view our quick tutorial here. […]

  2. Side Quest Unlocked: Apply Color | Co-Op Campaign - June 12, 2014

    […] There were a couple of pieces that we painted by hand that turned out looking really good, which also served to sway me toward hand painting in the future. Included in this category was the trim of both Subject Delta and Eleanor Lamb’s helmets, the tanks for Subject Delta’s pack and Eleanor Lamb’s arm guards. And for weathering, we used black acrylic paint and the process outlined in our Weathered Metal Effect tutorial which you can find here. […]

  3. Level 7:2 – Upgrade Footwear | Co-Op Campaign - June 13, 2014

    […] as with all the other pieces of this cosplay, we weathered it using the technique described in our Weathered Metal Tutorial which you can check out […]

  4. Level 4:4 – Stabilize Ranged Weapon | Co-Op Campaign - June 13, 2014

    […] harpoon was the weathering. We used black acrylic paint and the process outlined in our Weathered Metal Tutorial on both the harpoon itself and the arm guards. We didn’t get a great picture of the harpoon […]

  5. Level 4-5: Upgrade and Refine Weapon | Co-Op Campaign - June 24, 2014

    […] on, take care of any touch-ups to the paint job, weather it using the technique out lined in our Weathered Metal Effect Tutorial and add the ADAM tube which we purchased from and then filled with red body wash, […]

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