Wednesday 1 July 2015

Tutorial: Heat Staining Engines

Tagline: Project Thunderbolt - build log part six and a half

Yeah, I know, it's no "in space no-one can hear you scream" is it? Today, I present a mini-update because I realised that I had something that I could easily step-by-step and would take up a ton of room in another update. So a tutorial is born!

This is a surprisingly nippy technique, took about 15 minutes to do both engines including stopping to take photos. However you really do need a hairdryer to achieve this time. Leaving ink layers to dry naturally will take approximately forever. Start by lightening the metalwork on the area you need to heat stain. You'll need the brighter steel to show through.

A thin glaze of chestnut ink (all ink layers are mixed with acrylic thinner, in this case Vallejo Airbrush Thinner) over the nozzle is followed by a thicker band. Feather these out a bit - stippling can be helpful too. Check to avoid pools of ink forming. You want a nice clean layer... of grime... you know what I mean.

Next a red and chestnut ink mix was applied to the bottom edge of the "brown band" (seriously, look at reference materials for this.

Then a mix of red and blue inks to create the right purple tone, feather this over the red-chestnut to keep the gradually shading tones.

Next, blue ink is used to stain the very ends of the nozzles (nozzles? Who knows), again feather the blue into the purple.

Finally we get some soot staining with drybrushing first German Camo Black-Brown...

...And finally black. Done!

Now if you are doing this on the polished chrome of a motorbike exhaust, for example, you will want it shinier than this, don't add the soot and put a thin layer of gloss varnish over the staining. It'll pick up the reflective quality of the metalwork beneath. These are old, 40k-ish engines so grime is better.

There y'go, quick tutorial, and just because "why not?" here is a picture of a nifty torpedo:

I think I'm a little obsessed with that torpedo...

Anyway, all for now



  1. Very nice! I think I can make use of this and I have a ton of liquitex inks on my shelf already.

    1. while washes are very cool for what they do there are times when only an ink will do aren't there? :)

  2. Replies
    1. Ta :) I was chuffed by how it turned out (and how it photographed too)

  3. Great effect, thanks for the step-by-step.