Weathering with art supplies: Introduction

This is the first part in a series of posts that will detail how I use art supplies when I weather my models. I'll discuss, in detail, which ones I use, how I use them, and why. This series follows a "demo" I did at our most recent club meeting. It turned out that I felt I didn't get enough opportunity to go into detail on everything I do with weathering. So I write this series so I can fill in the gaps of my live demo. In this series, I will detail how I use oil paint, pastels, and various other things.

Why use artists paint/supplies?

The first issue I want to address is why use art supplies for weathering? That's a great question, especially relevant given today's abundance of weathering products produced specifically for modelers. Over the past few years, more and more choices are available for modelers. We have the three companies Mig is/was involved in, Adam Wilder has joined the fray, and companies like Vallejo, Humbrol, and Tamiya have added their own bits. With all of these choices available, why do I forgo them in favor of artist supplies?

There are several reasons for my choice, which I will get to below. First I want to say that I have nothing against any of the modeler specific products. I'm not protesting them, boycotting them, or trying to push them out of the market. I own some of their products that I have used in addition to my art supplies and I have done comparison tests. The reasons I don't prefer them are strictly personal. Feel free to disagree with my reasoning and continue to use whichever products you wish. I won't hold it against you and I hope you won't hold my choices against me. Fortunately for all, most of the techniques I use will work just the same with the equivalent modeling specific product. So even if you don't use art supplies, you can still learn from this series.

Availability--Perhaps the biggest reason I like using art supplies is that I can get them locally. My local art store and craft stores are well-stocked with art supplies and I don't have to wait long to get them. My local hobby shops, on the other hand, are not well-stocked when it comes to weathering products. I could, of course, order them from the many online retailers, but I like the ability to buy the supplies I need now rather than wait a week or more for delivery.

Product information--art suppliers are much more forthcoming with information about their products. Artist paints usually have the ingredients printed right on the tube. With modeling supplies, I am left to guess what the ingredients are (and they don't make their MSDS sheets available).

Cost--I'll admit that artist oil paints are a bit more expensive than the modeling variety of oil paints. But on the whole, using art supplies saves money. I can use oil paint for washes, filters, streaking, and more. That saves me from buying three separate modeling products for those techniques. Likewise, $15 can get me a set of 12 earth tone soft pastels. That same amount of money will only get me 2 or 3 different weathering pigments/powders.

Those are the three main reasons I like to use art supplies. But I'll admit to a fourth reason that won't help out many people. Before I returned to modeling, I attempted to take up drawing and oil painting. That venture failed, but as a result I already had a small stock of art supplies at the ready when I returned to this hobby. That was the reason I started using them instead of buying weathering products. So unless you've had a reason to get the art supplies already, this reason won't help you.

Up next: in part 1, I show you how I use oil paints for washes, filters, and streaking. Stay tuned!