40K Sponge Weathering

& Mud

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Let us take a look at sponge weathering
and mud today. This article is a request from
somehow described themselves as the
lowest common dominator when it comes
to painting. I disagree with them! They
can sure paint! But we all start with zero
experiences everything and it takes a little
push to get us out of comfort zone and
into a new method/technique.
This type of painting technique is especially
hard to throw yourself into because it’s the
last, or nearly the last, step on a model.
Everything is perfect and now you’re going
to potentially ruin it with a new technique.
My Trusty Sponge
My Trusty Sponge

Testing with a Sponge

With this being a final step the risk
is high. You should spend some time
testing out these methods before
going at a model with them. Better to
use 30 minutes doing a test than ruin
a model you’ve spent four hours on.
The test can be simple. Take something
and prime it, then paint it in the base
colours you have already. Just do it quickly
to get it to the right colours as your model.
You can use a piece of card for flat areas like
armour or a piece of sprue for complex areas.
Prepare a test piece that’s bigger than you
think you’ll need. This will enable you to try
a few methods in one go and see them side
by side easily. It also means if your first attempt
is a failure you have plenty of room to try
again and perfect the method.

The Sponge

I find that a regular sponge you use for
doing the dishes works fine. Or some
foam from a miniatures case.
I find I hold it very tightly between my
middle finger, index finger and thumb.
This creates a sort of slightly curved
surface which you can dip into your paint.
I say dip, I mean lightly touch.
Lightly touch the sponge onto the paint,
or wash. Remove excess on a paper towel,
try it on something that isn’t your model –
I use my hand. Then apply it to the model.
Trying it on something first is a must.
Sometimes you’ll get a pocket of just pure
wet paint in the sponge. You don’t want this.
Keep dabbing on the paper towel to remove this.
I’d do a test on your hand every time,
just to make sure.
  1. Touch Paint
  2. Paper Towel
  3. Hand
  4. Model
  5. Repeat

That test every time will save you.
Trust me.
Holding the sponge
Holding the sponge

Paints & Washes

I’ve used a sponge with paints and washes.
Washes soak up a lot, so be careful and
make sure you remove excess. Using a wash
is probably a poor use of the wash because
you waste a lot.
Watering down a regular paint is probably
better. But again, test it to make sure it’s
the colour you want.
Paint doesn’t soak up as much but still
needs to be spread out and dried out a
little on a paper towel before use.

Different Surfaces

I’d use a different method on different
types of surface. The two main ones
will be;
  • Flat areas of hard material – like armour or buildings
  • Soft areas with grooves and complex surfaces – like clothes
Painting Valhallans - Cover
Clothing done with a sponge
Autocannon plating done with a sponge


When doing armour I place the sponge onto
the model and then remove it in one straight
line. It goes on at 90 degrees to the
surface and off at 90 degrees. There is no
angling or movement.
This gives you a cleaner effect from
the sponge. The paint goes on in little dots
and patterns and stays there. This is how
I’d imagine it being deposited on a vehicle’s
armour – it goes on and it stays there, it
doesn’t soak into the armour.
It may drip or run down the armour though,
more on this later.
For armour, it’s a fairly robotic movement.
On and off.


Clothing is slightly different. It can be
less robotic and a bit more organic. Dabbing
and patting the sponge on in multiple
locations and at multiple angles.
You’d expect the muck to soak into the
fabric and create less of a dotty or patterned
effect. And more of mucky smudge on the clothing.
I did this with my Valhallan test model using
Seraphim Sepia, Agrax Earthshade and Nuln Oil.
I made a conscious effort to put Nuln Oil at
the base of the coat, Agrax at the base and
just above the base, and finally a very small
amount of Sepia just above the Agrax and
nowhere near the bottom of the coat. This
worked well in the end and gave a variety
of browns from the base of the coat and up.
With little effort.

Sponge Weathering

The above for clothes and armour covers mud
and the general muck of the battlefield. You
can also do weathering and chopping effects
quickly with a sponge on armour.
Before you do this, you should Google for
rusted tanks, weathers metal, etc. What these
actually look like compared with what we think
they look like can be startling.
Weathered Tank
Weathered Tank
Weathered Tank
Weathered Tank

If you’re going to weather and chip a part of a
vehicle consider these quick questions;
  • Should I be weathering corners,
  • grooves, flat areas or all three?
  • Should I be doing panels facing toward the sky,
  • sideways or downwards?
  • How will the weathering effect rivet heads?
  • Is there other mucky, rust and detritus
  • that will collect on the armour?
  • Will the forward motion of the
  • vehicle mean muck is collected in 
    some places and not others?
I’m no pro and I’m not going to pretend
I can answer all those accurately about my
vehicles and then paint them according to
my assumptions. But it’s worth looking into
and just giving yourself an extra bit of time
to consider your weathering effects.
With the lecture over. We shall proceed.


The paints you use for weathering and
chipping armour will either make or break
the effect. Test. Test. And test again to
get it right.
In the past, I’ve used Drayad Bark first to
do most of the area I’m weathering. This is a
dark brown and gives the appeared of muck,
dirt and decayed paint before the bare
metal is shown.
I then use Leadbelcher which is a darkish
silver. Use this over the Drayad Bark but do
not cover all of the Drayad Bark. Leave
some of it showing so the Leadbelcher is
towards the centre of the weathered area.
This gives us some paint that’s worn away
to metal.
Finally, use Runefang Steel sparingly. Again over
the Leadbelcher and towards the centre or main
area of weathering. This gives some bright spots
of silver where the paint has worn away and
the weathering has continued to buff and
shine the underlying metal.


I’ve used Typhus Corrosion before for
mucky drips on vehicles. It’s very easy to do;
  • Place a small brush onto the area where
  • the drip starts. Perhaps a rivet head.
  • And then pull the brush downwards –
  • dragging the Typus Corrosion down,
  • away and into a thin trail of grime.
It works really well, you can read about
it more on my Hellhounds article.
That is all for now folks!
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