When it first comes to painting chipped armour, most of us simply use our brush and "stipple" the effect around the edges of the armour plates. There's nothing wrong with this, but eventually you begin looking around to see what else is out there that you can use to get a real nice effect.
Well, you you probably find something close to that where someone has loaded up a "sponge" with paint, dabbed some of the excess away and then goes out dabbing the edges of their model's armour plates to get a great effect.
And it looks much better than a brush. This guy here was done with a brush and you can get some real nice effects if you take your time. No doubt about it, but you're still limited in the finer textures you can achieve.
So what kind of sponge should you use?
First, let me back up to the paintbrush. There is nothing wrong with using this guy if you're careful in how you apply your paint. Keep it to the edges and don't press too hard when using the tip in other areas (to minimize damge to your brush).
In fact, I still use a brush with a super fine tip to add the metallic spots to my weathering where it has "chipped away" enough paint on the model. So don't give up on the brush completely just yet.
I started looking at what I was using to get my effects and I've got three things I use now. Each has it's place if you will depending on what you're "weathering." I'm going to stick to infantry models for this discussion. Left to right, we have the regular household sponge, a makeup applicator and a sea sponge.
The makeup applicator is the new one for me. Most of the time, I've used the regular household sponge fairly well. But now that I have this new little guy, things have changed.
So how does each one do?
For me, each one has it's good and bad. Let's look at the three types I listed above.
This guy has been my workhorse to date. Tear off a little piece, load it up with paint, get rid of the excess and go to work.
It's good for getting a wide variety of texture. One drawback is the scale. It tends to be a bit larger than the damage would be on the model.
Sometimes it can be tough to control this guy too in that even the smallest piece of sponge still covers more area than you want on the model and you have to go behind and do some cleanup work.
I had to do some cleanup on the Deathwing model there. Not much, but it can be a pain if you've blended the underlying surface already.
The makeup applicator
My new favorite toy. This guy is small and the scale of the damage is more appropriate for infantry models. The small applicator head is perfect for getting in there and putting the damage right where you want it with little to no clean up work. The drawback to this guy is that the paint dries fast in the applicator and you need to work quick. Cover a small area and then rinse out your tool so the paint doesn't dry inside and kill the texture.
The Sea Sponge
This one was a bit of a disappointment for me. The texture was all wrong for my liking and I couldn't get a piece small enough to do what I wanted despite cutting it into little chunks.
At best, I might use this for weathering vehicles, but I'd be more inclined to grab my household sponge first. This guy is going in the trash at this point and I'm out the dollar I spent on him.
Trying out the makeup applicator on a model
I gave it a go with the makeup applicator on some of the armour plates on this guy. More than anything else, I was trying to get a feel for using it. I really like the scale of the damage as it's much smaller than it's two counterparts.
I think with a little work, I'll be able to control my application and get just the results I want and achieve a nice scale effect on the model too. It may come down to a combination of the two tools, the makeup applicator for finer surface damage and the sponge in a few key areas for the heavy chipping and damage.