Enamel Weathering

Washes, streaks, rust, stains, dust, mud, oil, grease, and wet effects

Enamel Basics

Enamel weathering has become very popular in the last decade as modelers realize the usefulness of using products that you can manipulate and blend, even hours after application. Both AK Interactive and Mig Ammo make low-odor enamel products designed for use over acrylic paint jobs. This is important because the enamels won't affect the underlying acrylics, which is why most modelers paint with acrylics and weather with something else.

Working with enamels is a little different than working with acrylics. First, you need mineral spirits (white spirits) to thin the paint. I prefer the odorless type, which makes the process easier. While low in odor, the Mig and AK enamels do have some smell, so use only a little at a time and keep the room ventilated. Finally, make sure you have dedicated brushes for enamels that don't touch acrylics (and vice versa).

Enamel Effects

  1.  Washes
    • Enamels make good washes since you can sludge them on, and then go back later and clean up any excess you want to.
    • It's easy to mix colors and intensities.
    • And you can get a small-tipped brush to do isolated washes.
  2. Streaking
    • Streaking (either on tanks or sci-fi) is a common occurrence. Use a small brush to create irregular lines trailing down a vehicle.
    • Then come back with a moistened flat brush (using mineral spirits), and gently stroke the lines until they are faint...but not invisible.
    • Blotting out the brush will help remove excess thinner (the brush only needs to be slightly damp).
  3. Highlights/shadows
    • You can use enamels to highlight and shade areas.
    • Use a flat brush and a similar technique to making streaks
  4. Oil/fuel spills
    • Glossy enamels are great for doing simple spills from oil and fuel.
    • Thin the products and use a small brush to tap irregular puddles of spilled fuel.


  1. Tap dust enamels on the vehicle using a brush.
  2. Then tap another brush with mineral spirits on top of the wet dust effects.
  3. The dust will spread.
  4. Return again with more dust effects for greater density.


  1. Use an airbrush to shoot air through an old paintbrush loaded with enamel dirt to create splatters.
  2. Combine plaster with enamel dirt for caked-on mud.
  3. Use different colors for different layers.


  • Washes make great filters if you thin them enough (see my KV-1 build log).
  • Dampen the surface with mineral spirits first to help washes/filters/dust effects spread out more easily.
  • White spirits, though smelly, are strong than their odorless cousins at removing enamels.
  • Applying enamels to a satin surface helps with the product spreading out more easily.
  • Wait a few days before adding an acrylic clear coat. Enamels take much longer to cure than acrylics.


  1. How long do you wait after spraying acrylic before you use the enamel wash? Do you clear coat in between and what do you use to clear coat?

    • You can use enamels as soon as the acrylics are dry to the touch. I may wait a day because I rarely start weathering immediately though. No, I don’t clear coat in between. I’ve never had issues with enamels harming an acrylic paint job.

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