About 25 years ago I started out as a military modeler, after visiting some off the world’s greatest modelers (no internet in those days). I was asked to do some demos on modelling shows and meetings, mostly about painting and weathering and the then new tool; the airbrush.

At one off those meetings I met a guy from Belgium who was fiddling around with a technique new to modelling, using hairspray.

We met a weekend later and started trying, improving, drinking beer and trying again. Finally we more or less perfected the method. It's been copied many times and every modeler gave it its own twist. Today it's nothing like we thought it should be, evolution in modelling, and thanks to the www we could experiment and have results faster, improving each other.

Since then I made many models in rust or fading paint for which this technique is good for, and people always want to know, how do you do it?

The method...

Well, here is how… For an experienced modeler it's doable, for newbies I would say, try out first, and don’t start with your car the first time.

You need an airbrush, a good one, let's say from Badger up to better, no Chinese knockoffs, they aren't any good. For paint you need Tamiya acrylics, the little XF jars (F stands for flat) it's the only paint which can stand this kind of torture and stand the test of time.
You need clear acryl lacquer, any brand as long it isn't Tamiya, I use Vallejo mostly.
For effect you can use coarse kitchen or sea salt, yes salt, and not to forget, the hairspray, any regular type will do.

As an example I have some Wraith panels. I made my Wraith in a kind of 'after the apocalypse' theme, burned and battle scared.

First off, I prepared the panels, sanding, then primer and matt black, nothing new there. I guess I don't have to explain the use of primer or why you can't do without.


After the black (which is used as backing) I painted the panels in a mix of rust tones and flat aluminum, after drying I gave it a layer of satin clear, make sure everything is sealed: rick 01
After the clear is dry, spray on a liberal amount of hairspray, for some different effects I used salt also, just let it fall down on the wet hairspray. You don't have to use salt, it depends on what kind of effect you want: rick 02
The hairspray will turn flat within 10 minutes, now it's time for the last paint, in this example Panzergrau or Panzergrey: rick 03
Now it's time for the magic, use an old stiff brush and lukewarm water and start taking off the paint, don't be afraid to overdo it, you can give it another layer and do it again, and it's also personal taste of course: rick 04
If you like the result let it dry, seal everything with flat finish. If you like you can do more effects or staining, even dusting, if you thin Vallejo model paint down it will dry up dusty, and in a way you can touch it. Some use pigments but they end up on your fingers when handling your RC model rick 05

 There's no end to what you can do with this method, below you will see some examples of finished models to give you an idea!


Some examples of the results you can get

The Wraith finished with Psycho Willy, some bullet holes for fun:

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In 'normal' modelling (but what's normal anyway):

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Faded paint Blackfoot:

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Billy Joe Bob's moonshiner:

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Pumpkin Wrecker:

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 Faded Hilux:

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Faded paint and paint chips, thinned down Vallejo for rust effects, scratch build 8x8:

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Rescued from the trash and a new life as old truck, for a mate:

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Tamiya panzer in progress, dusted, stained and chipped with Vallejo over Tamiya paint:

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Scratch build Rodgers tank trailer, hairspray first on the top, then Vallejo dust effect:

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For a mate, an old Wrangler got a new life as well used trial stomper:

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My Mustang TRF416 drifter, inspired by the last Shelby in gone in 60 seconds, hairspray and dust effect under the lost rear bumper:

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Hope it helps you guys to make nice things, if you try this method you will see it isn't that difficult, just try!!

Written by TB member Rick vS

#1 rcb 2015-08-11 22:36
Excellent tutorial! I really like the first truck. I live in the country and for me it is a warm image.

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