Rusty Bases: My first attempt at dry pigments

After countlesss online tutorials, I decided to take my first crack at using dry pigments and after countless warnings, I still ruined my jeans.


A big part of any army’s look is it’s bases.  I’ve always loved cool bases that are easy to do on a mass scale and help add an identity to an army.  I did simple grass/dirt on my Eldar, snow on my Space Wolves, and hand painted granite on my Emperor’s Children.  When I first set out on my Sons of Medusa I knew I wanted to do some kind of techy/industrial bases. This would go with the theme of the army well.  Unfortunately, more dark metal would be boring so I thought a bright reddish orange rust would be a cool contrast.  I’m talking about that fresh rust.  Not fully decayed, but just a nice dusting of a total iron surface.  I wanted them to feel like some abandoned, rusted out factory or mysterious space hulk.

I did quite a bit of research about how to apply these pigments.  Apparently they have been used in the historical modeling community for a while.  I had never heard of them until I got back into 40k.  The look is amazingly realistic and simple to achieve.  But be aware, the stuff gets everywhere.  I noticed as soon as I received these awesome MIG pigments in the mail that the colors were all over the inside of the box. As soon as I cracked open the first container of Standard Rust, tiny pigment particles were everywhere.  You won’t know it, but the tiniest whisp of air or flick of the bristle sends it flying. I quicky threw an old pillowcase over my lap exercised caution from there out.

First step after priming black was to lay down some dark brown on my bases.  I wanted a nice shadow to show through and build up on.  I probably did too much brown in all the dark areas.  I want to keep more contrast in the future so I will probably top it more quickly and just hit the sharp parts of the debris.

Next, I threw down a light dusting of MIG’s Standard Rust.  This was the darker red rust.  I applied it pretty liberally and next time I will try and retain more of the brown under it.

Finally, I dusted a highlight of the bright orange light rust on the top edges and in the recesses.  I couldn’t believe how real it looked right off the bat.

Here’s where I’m still on the fence about dry pigments.  They usually need to be sealed or “fixed” with some sort of alcohol based agent.  The pigment is basically finely dried paint and when a fixing agent is applied it becomes paint again.The problem I had was that the hue changed after fixing mine with rubbing alcohol, a technique that I’ve seen in several tutorials.  This was not going to work.  I really like the matte, dusty look.  The fixer is just going to ruin it.  I think I’ll just take my chances with them unsealed.  People aren’t going to be touching the tops of the base that much and it stays pretty set on its own.  Just don’t rub it on your white shirt.

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