Every once in awhile, we stumble on something that is not designed specifically for our hobby and this is just one such instance. A good friend of mine builds WWI aircraft and he was always able to achieve some very realistic appearances on the exhausts of his aircraft that were textured, rusted, etc. I asked what his secret was and he showed me: Sophisticated Finishes. It is an aging solution designed for use on pottery, crafts, figurines etc. and consists of a two-part system, an Iron Metallic Solution and a Rusting Solution. The first part consists of 100% iron shavings suspended in an acrylic water-based medium. The second material contains ammonium chloride and copper sulfate. When applied over the iron surfacer base coat it reacts by actually oxidizing/rusting the underlying coat. The more rusting solution applied, the more rust will appear.
Apply the Iron solution first followed by the Rusting solution. For more orange-looking rust, apply the rusting solution while the Iron solution is still somewhat damp. For darker brown looking rust, let the Iron solution dry more. The dryer the Iron solution, the darker the rust finish will be. Several light coats will produce a better finish than one heavy coat. Additional coats should be applied 24 hours apart, although I have added additional coats considerably sooner and still achieved very good results. The effect achieved on the photos to the left took less than an hour.
Since there are some caustic chemicals in this product, it is advisable to use proper safety measures when using them. Obviously, you should read carefully the instructions and warnings on the product. I paid $18 for my set, but the solutions can be purchased individually too. There are other products in the same line designed to achieve different finishes; a patina finish, and copper, among others. This product is available at most craft stores and well stocked art stores.
My test subject for this article is an old Tamiya German lower hull. The Iron solution was shaken well and applied with an old brush. Even though the solution cleans up with water, I wouldn’t use a good brush to apply this stuff. I used a hair dryer set on high to help speed the drying time. Once dry, I applied a second coat and again used the dryer to help speed the drying time. The Rusting solution was applied and allowed to dry on its own as I typed this. Even in the short amount of time that it sat drying, the rusting process has started as you can see in the photos. I applied a second coat and also set this aside to dry while I worked on some other projects. Now some 25 minutes later there is a definite change in the rust. Once you see where the rust is developing, additional coats can be added to customize the effect you’re after. I concentrated the applications to the drive sprocket area and the upper and lower areas of the hull. After three applications you can really see the difference from when the initial coat was applied. Once everything is dry, it is suggested that the surface be sealed. Once sealed, washes and dry brushing can be added to enhance the look of the effected area.
While this method is a little involved the results are well worth the effort it if you are going for a seriously rusted out vehicle or just some nice looking exhausts.
Highs: Achieves a very realistic rust appearance. Easy to use and a little goes a long way.Lows: Somewhat lengthy process. Caustic chemical in the rusting solution present some hazards to be managed.Verdict: Four thumbs up from this user. A new approach for a great effect.