Oil isn't a very expensive investment. The table below shows the tools you need, in total they should only cost $20-30, much less than the cost of a real airbrush. One tube of oil paint lasts almost a life time, so the recurring costs are very low.

Best grade artist oils (Winsor & Newton, Old Holland, Rembrandt, Gamblin etc.)

Oil paints are more expensive than many other types of paint, and there are usually two grades, one low priced student grade and one higher. They differs in the amount and fineness of pigments. I recommend getting the higher priced ones because the price difference is usually not much, but the difference in quality can really affect your work. Oil paints can last a long time so it is good investment. My most used colors for weathering are mars brown, titanium white and ivory black. It is also great to keep a red, yellow and blue so that you can approximate any color you want by mixing. I suggest napthol red, ultramarine blue and medium yellow.

Paint brush For mecha weathering you don't need very good brushes. In fact weathering destroys brushes! The brush should have bouncy bristles (soft bristles are not workable) but not hard. Cheaper Grumbacher brushes available from your artstore or bookstore works pretty well. Modeling brushes in general are pretty crappy and overpriced.
Palette Mesquite BBQ Pringles chips are very tasty. Pizza flavor isn't bad either... eat the chips and keep the lid :)
Odorless Mineral Spirit (OMS) Used to thin paint and clean brushes. It is less toxic than mineral spirits.
Cold wax A matte medium. I found this from Grumbacher. Oil has a sheen that's a little bit glossier than satin, and when you mix drying agent and OMS the paint tends to turn glossy. The wax is used to kill the gloss.
Drying agent Used to speed up drying. Mix a little and the paint will dry in hours rather than days. If you mix up to 1/3 with OMS, the paint will start turning into something very much like glossy enamel paint. There are many different kinds such as Liquin from W&N, or Grumbacher's. This is completely optional.

Working with oil

Oil is one of the most versatile paints. I use it for drybrushing, washing, glazing and panel lining. The characteristics of the paint is that it dries very slowly (at least a day or two), which can be infuriating to the impatient, but allows a long working time. Moreover, you can always seal the oil so that you can continue working on the piece. For example, I usually do armor highlighting before applying decals, so after applying the highlights with oil I'll seal the piece immediately with Future Floor wax, no waiting necessary. Other flat coats such as testor's Dullcote or Mr. super clear sprays works for sealing as well, as long as you apply multiple light coats. Otherwise the flat coat tends to form poodles around the oil and creates nasty white mess.

Blending is the most important thing oil offers pertinent to weathering.

  1. Blending is basically moving the paint around the surface. You can create feather or fade out effects from it.
  2. How well you can blend depends on the type of surface and the consistency of the oil. A flat surface traps oil better and is more useful for weathering. On a glossy surface you'll just be moving the paint around without achieving much. Also, oil blends better when they're thick. Thinned is hard to control when the solvent (OMS) is not completely evaporated. You can increase the thickness of the oil with cold wax; just mix a little.
  3. A little oil goes a long way! When you squeeze from the tube just squeeze a little.
  4. To create a fade out effect, apply a little paint on the surface, wipe the brush so that it's no longer loaded with paint (or use a different brush), and "drag" the paint lightly from its edge. To obtain a gradient, use less force as you move along, and finally lifting the brush away from the surface. Here is a good exercise:

    Apply a little ivory black on a piece of paper. Paper is absorbent and is easier to give you a few of how things should work. On a plastic surface it's a little harder.

    Wipe the brush clean in the sense that it's no longer drenched in paint.
    Starting from the paint blob stroke lightly towards yourself. This creates some kind of streak. Progressively lift the brush away from the surface.

    The little paint left in the brush can also create subtle effect.Make light strokes on the paper without dipping more paint, again more force at the beginning and lighter at the end. This is how a lot of weathering will be done.

      Once you get a feel of what's going on you can practice on a piece of plastic.

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