Weathering Basics: India Ink and Rubbing Alcohol

February 16, 2018

This Blog Post was published as an article on the original in 2010

One of my favorite tools for weathering is the simple combination of India Ink and rubbing alcohol. It is easy to make and handy for numerous applications. Just about everything I build uses it in one way or another.

Mixing it Up

By mixing India Ink with Rubbing Alcohol, you will have a fantastic tool at your fingertips for weathering and aging anything on your work bench.

Rubbing alcohol may be purchased at most grocery and drug stories, and India Ink may be found at most art supply stores.

Use a dropper or pipette to add a few drops of the India Ink to a small jar of rubbing alcohol. Be aware that the more India Ink you add to your solution, the darker the results. I recommend starting light and working your way toward dark.

Also be aware that any surfaces to come in contact with the India Ink, such as your fingers or clothes will be stained.

I often mix up several jars of varying degrees of darkness for multiple uses on my work bench.


Using a brush dedicated solely for your India Ink and rubbing alcohol mix, slather the the mix onto your items to be weathered. If you apply it onto an upside down surface, the India Ink will add a great shadowing effect. You can apply it heavy or light, and until you get the hang of it I would always stick to the lighter spectrum. Depending on what kind of paint is on the model before you apply the mix, once the mix is down and you try to work it after it has set for a bit, you could potentially strip the paint due to the alcohol.

Also, you want to apply all layers of the mix before you spray your model with Dullcote. The alcohol and Dullcote could react with each other and result in your black mix turning white. However, this reaction could be used as an effective weathering technique, and I have had some impressive results by playing with it.

Other Ideas

By fiddling around with the mix of India Ink and rubbing alcohol, you can do amazing things. It works great with other forms of weathering, such as dry brushing, pastel chalk, and air brushing.

If I am building a structure from wood, I always like to pre-stain the wood. This serves multiple purposes. If you are using strip wood, you can stain different strips in various shades to enhance the appearance. Also, if the wood has been pre-stained and you get any glue in unwanted areas, it wont show. This is because the wood won’t soak the stain in areas where the glue has dripped or run, leaving you with an unnatural looking light spot. Painting a wood structure after it has been stained also improves the weathered and abused look, as well. I recommend spraying the building or lightly dry brushing it for best results.

Another one of my favorite applications, is to run a quick coat on figures I have personally painted to knock down the sheen and enhance the shadows. I also like to use it to stain plaster to simulate the look of concrete. Using a dark stain also pulls off the look of asphalt very well.

Give it a try, and don’t be afraid of trying it out on multiple applications. It may surprise you at how versatile it is.

Happy Weathering --

Chris Brimley

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