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Tutorial – Hairspray and Salt Weathering

feb 25, 14 Tutorial – Hairspray and Salt Weathering

The following is a step-by-step guide on how to create a weathering effect on your miniatures using hairspray and salt. I have used this technique on my Chi’quita Dynasty necron models. I recommend using an airbrush for this but you can use a brush as well.





After cleaning, assembling and undercoating your model, paint the model in a rusty basecoat. Any brown, orange or red will do. For my necrons, I used Vallejo Model Air Armour Brown (71041). I applied it with the airbrush. Make sure you cover the entire model.

Step 1 : Vallejo Model Air Brown basecoat

The next step is applying other rusty colors to your model to give variations in the rust. I used a bit of sponge (like those that came with the older blisters or a piece of KR foam you no longer need) to apply the paint. This creates a random pattern, making it look more natural. For my Necrons I used GW Mournfang Brown, GW Wild Rider Red, GW Troll Slayer Orange and GW Fire Dragon Bright.

Step 2 : GW Mournfang Brown

Step 3 : GW Wild Rider Red

Step 4 : GW Troll Slayer Orange

Step 5 : GW Fire Dragon Bright

For an added weathering effect you can also add pigments. I used Vallejo Pigments Brown Iron Oxide (73108) and Vallejo Pigments Fresh Rust (73118). I applied it with Vallejo pigment binder (26233). I concentrated on the parts of the model that the sponge cannot reach.

Step 6 : Vallejo pigments brown iron oxide

Step 7 : Vallejo pigments fresh rust

After the paint and the pigment fixer is dry, spray the model with hairspray. I just “borrowed” my girlfriend’s. Sprinkle on salt while the hairspray is still moist. The salt should stick to the model. I tried using regular tablesalt but found it was too small and in a later stage more difficult to work with so I am using rock salt (salt you can grind yourself). It’s not easy to make the salt go where you want it to go so it is also a good idea to remove any salt that set in a place you will not need weathering (like the blue parts on my necrons). It’s my experience that you can spray a second layer of hairspray and apply more salt if a part of the model was not covered in the first go. I’ve seen it’s also possible to spray the hairspray in a containter first and then paint on the liquid hairspray. I suppose you have more control like that but I think spraying it on goes a lot faster. Let this dry as well.

Step 8 : Apply hairspray and salt

Now basecoat your model in the color you want. For my necrons I applied several layers of Vallejo Model Air Gold Yellow (71078) with my airbrush. After that is dry, apply all you other basecoats. For the white I used Vallejo Off White (72101). Be carefull when you paint onto or against the salt. You don’t want to dislodge it yet. Add your highlights as well. I used a mix 1:1 mix of Vallejo Model Air Gold Yellow and Vallejo Off White.

Step 9 : Apply Vallejo Model Air Gold Yellow basecoat

Step 10 : Paint on Vallejo Off White basecoat

Step 11 : Paint on highlights

Once all the basecoats and highlights have been painted on, let the model dry. Once dry, take some warm water and an old brush and apply the water to the model where there is salt. The water will soften up the paint and the salt and it should come away from your model. If necessary, carefully use pincers or a hobby knife to dislodge them. The rusty colors should become visible from beneath the salt. If you want to apply more damage to the model where the salt didn’t stick, you can use a toothbrush to carefully scrape the top paint layer off after softening the paint with warm water. This step will soak the model so it will take a while to dry before you can continue.

Step 12 : Remove the salt with warm water

As an extra step I have chosen to also highlight the weathering, making it pop more. I used a 1:1 mix of the same yellow with Vallejo Off White (72101).

Step 13 : Highlight the weathering

To make sure the model doesn’t look to clean and to give some depth by adding shadows, I applied a brown oil wash. Before applying the oil wash you first need to seal the model with varnish. I used Vallejo Satin Varnish through my airbrush. The varnish serves two purposes. It gives a smoother surface so that the wash will flow beter over the model using capillary action and it protects the current paintjob since the oilwash uses white spirits to thin it down. Let the model dry completely before applying the oil wash. I used a dark brown oil wash. After applying the oil wash use a brush with some white spirits to remove any excess. The idea is to stain the model and add depth to the recesses, not color it.

Step 14 : Apply the satin varnish

Step 15 : Apply the oil wash

Finally it’s time to add any other colors to the model that don’t need the oil wash. I used GW Teclis blue and then highlighted it with a mix of GW Teclis blue and Vallejo Off-White. A final highlight of Off-white was applied on some parts before I washed the blue parts with GW Guilliman Blue to blend the highlights together.

Step 16 : GW Teclis Blue

Step 17 : Highlight the blue

Step 18 : Wash the blue

The final result …

If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, feel free to post them below!


  1. Tom Adriany /

    Great article Jerre!

  2. Louis A Kildash /

    Love it Jerre, very nice job 🙂

  3. Really nice !!

    tip : only paint your rust on a section where you’ll actually apply the salt 😉

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