As part of the General Nemo Warmachine model I was working on the other week, I thought I might try my hand at making my own weathering powders. On a recent visit to my local craft store, I found a small set of pastels that had the perfect colors for just this experiment.
This whole thing started because I was looking for a light grey powder color and wanted to see if I could save a bit of money by making my own. Forge World has a Grey Ash colored weathering powder, but it looked a little too warm for my liking. I'd love to hear from anyone who has used that particular color though. When I found the pastels in the craft store, I figured I was in business.
I remember reading somewhere that you do NOT want to use oil pastels because they won't work like regular pastels that you can shave or grind up into a fine powder. I made sure I had the right kind before buying them.
Keep in mind, I bought these a while ago and they've been sitting on my desk ever since... it wasn't until this project that I broke them out to see how they'd do.
My normal weathering powder set up
I was told that you should have a few varaitions of each color for variety. Things like black don't count, but your browns and such is where it matters. This is definitely true. Being able to apply a variety of colors really helps with the realism on your models.
My normal setup looks like this. I open all my powders up and set them aside. I grab my "custom" weathering brushes that I made by taking some of my old brushes and cutting the tips off (in effect making them into soft stipple brushes). I have a few different sizes depending on how big of an area I want to cover. The real big brush with the blue handle is for dusting off the excess powder in the end.
I also work on top of a sheet of paper that catches all the loose powder as it falls. It makes it easier to clean up in the end. Now the powders I use are from Secret Weapon Miniatures. I went through and picked up a handful of browns I though could be used for things like dirt and rust effects along with black for good measure.
And then I tried to make my own from pastels
Since I wanted to test out my new grey "weathering powder," I broke open my pastel sticks and grabbed my X-Acto blade. I started scraping off some of the stick into a small pile on my desk. So far so good.
I grabbed a brush and started applying it to the model just like I do with all the other"real" powders. That's when I realised making your own is not as good as buying the real stuff.
My homemade powder doesn't stick anywhere near as well as the real ones do. There was no pigment left on the model even after a couple of attempts at applying it. Then I gave up. In hindsight, I might have tried grinding the pastel up even finer, but I figured I did a pretty good job the first time carefully scraping it away.
Talk about disappointment.
I stood there for a minute trying to remember how much I'd spent on the pastel sticks that were supposed to save me lots of money. Thankfully, I don't think I spent that much on them. It's a good thing I bought the small pack with only four sticks in it and didn't get the huge assortment like I was thinking about doing.
So which is better?
Save yourself the headache and buy the real thing. Trying to make your own really only results in a mess and money wasted that could have been spent on actual powders. I know the real ones can get a little pricey... and all of them are like that it seems.
It adds up fast especially when you want to pick up two or three variations of each color so you have plenty of variety. I will say they are like static grass though. One tub (or jar) will last you your whole life unless you're cranking out a complete footslogging Imperial Guard army every other month.
As for me, I'm sticking to the real ones and saving my money until I have enough for a good light grey powder. Anyone have any recommendations?
Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
Weathering Powders Part 1 and Part 2