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May 27, 2009
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Create Rusty Metal Finish by FantasyStock Create Rusty Metal Finish by FantasyStock
Difficulty: Novice

I've recently been doing a few renovations to our home, and I've painted some accents to look like old, rusty metal.

This particular finish is something that's gotten some good feedback from people that have seen it in person. A couple of friends asked me how I did it. This is how in 7 easy steps...

1. Tape parts that you don't want to paint
2. Coat 1 - Hammered finish brown metallic spray paint
3. Coat 2 - Burnished copper metal spray paint (light mist)
4. Coat 3 - Terra cotta (flat orange) craft paint
5. Coat 4 - Burnt umber (flat dark brown) craft paint (dry brush)
6. Coat 5 - Hammered finish brown spray paint (light mist)
7. Gently remove tape after the final coat completely dries

It's important to allow each coat to dry before advancing to each new step. (The word "flat" in steps 4 & 5 means that you want to use paints without shine or gloss. Real rust typically dulls metal surfaces; it's not very shiny.)

This tutorial can be applied to ceramics, plastics, metals, and wood if you have the right kind of paint, so it's simple to use on other arts & crafts and home projects. It's also really handy for Halloween decorations!



Notes about dry brush painting or dry brushing: For those that don't know how, Google offers lots of tutorials for drybrushing techniques if you search "dry brushing painting".
  • What I've learned: Be sure to use a stiff bristled brush when dry brushing. Dry brushing kind of demonstrates the philosophy of "less is more". Add a little paint to the tip of your brush. Then dab most of the paint off of the brush onto a paper towel. Apply very thin amounts of paint over the raised parts of your surface. This allows the coats underneath to show in the little grooves, corners and crevasses of the object. It's the simplest thing in the world just by being very conservative with the amount of paint on the brush. As you probably figured out, dry brushing causes the paint to dry much more quickly.


  • Specific technique for this project: This particular dry brushing should be allowed to look streaked, which is the easiest thing to do with acrylic paint. The idea of dry brushing with the above tutorial isn't about adding a solid coat... It's all about creating the illusion of a decaying rusty metal texture by allowing the colors underneath to stay somewhat visible. The only totally solid coat in the above project was the first coat. Because rust generally doesn't form in straight lines, I used slightly more paint on my brush than most dry brush tuts may recommend. It allowed spots of brown get into some of the nooks. This is a good project for beginners because it looks best if it's sort of messy. It's ok to color out of the lines! You kind of need to when making things look like rust.

Hey, and not to nag you ;P, but remember to always use a well ventilated area when applying spray paint even for small projects. I don't want you hacking up a lung over some silly need for more rust in your life.

Please leave a link to a photo if you try this tutorial! I'd love to see what you do with it if you use it.


Used This Tut:



Steampunk Frame by ~Random-Star


Rusted vase by *LucieG-Stock
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:iconsithassasin:
sithassasin Featured By Owner Oct 12, 2013  Hobbyist Interface Designer
this is interesting thanks
Reply
:iconbamillustration:
BAMillustration Featured By Owner May 23, 2012  Professional General Artist
This came in so handy for my DIY Steampunk Wedding. Thank you!
Reply
:iconrobertstudio22:
RobertStudio22 Featured By Owner May 6, 2012  Student General Artist
this is just amazing cant wait to try this
Reply
:iconmanhunterj:
Manhunterj Featured By Owner Apr 15, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Dat Bioshock-ness!!
Reply
:iconblackcatironworks:
BlackcatIronworks Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2012
Very Informative,
Reply
:iconconistance:
Conistance Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2012
oh wow, i shall paint everything rusty now :la:
Reply
:iconpureangel:
pureangel Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2010   Photographer
Omg, the best tutorial ever! Thank you so much!
Reply
:iconthebutterfly:
TheButterfly Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2010  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This tutorial is incredibly thorough! Thanks for all the great hints and insights. I especially love reading how people arrive to the finished product. Wonderful job!
Reply
:iconsandman-ivan:
Sandman-Ivan Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2009  Hobbyist Digital Artist
really it seems you cant go wrong if you have the right paints.
Reply
:iconrandom-star:
Random-Star Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I sort of strayed from the original tutorial a tad, but it's still the same idea and the same source of inspiration: [link]

Thanks so much for this tutorial, it was incredibly fun. :D
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2009
Thanks for letting me know!! :glomp: I added it to the description above. You did a great job with it!
Reply
:iconrandom-star:
Random-Star Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
My pleasure and thanks again! :hug:
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Oct 19, 2009
You're welcome! :heart:
Reply
:iconlucieg-stock:
LucieG-Stock Featured By Owner Jun 14, 2009  Professional General Artist
Here's my first attempt: [link] I couldn't find the same metallic paint you used though, I don't know the name of the color I used (not written on the can, it's just shown on the top) but I think it was more brownish probably. Now I want to do more and I'm looking at everything in the house and thinking it would all look good rusty! rofl
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2009
That looks awesome! I had trouble stopping too. My husband worried that he would come home to a completely rusty house. LOL! Your case turned out very nicely... Wonderful work!
Reply
:iconstephanie-chivas:
Stephanie-Chivas Featured By Owner Jun 3, 2009  Student General Artist
Wow this is totally awesome, I love the smoke alarm looking all rusty. If I find something I'd like to look rusty I'm definetely trying this tutorial out.
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Jun 7, 2009
Thanks! I'd love to see a photo if you do!!
Reply
:iconrandom-star:
Random-Star Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
I've always wanted to get that worn, metallic texture for pieces, but metal is hard to work with and it was frustrating trying to find something just as good. Once I get the right paints, I'll be using this technique left and right. :D
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2009
It's good to hear that this may come in handy for you. Thanks for letting me know. I'd love to see photos whenever you get around to it.
Reply
:iconrandom-star:
Random-Star Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2009  Hobbyist General Artist
My pleasure. And I'll be sure to show photos. :)
Reply
:iconpaulherz:
paulherz Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Student Interface Designer
Do usually flexible objects submit themselves to bending without this paint chipping? Such as the lamp?
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 29, 2009
Actually, the lamp's extra "arm" still bends just fine. Acrylic is a fairly flexible paint. However, I'm not sure how long it would take for the paint to peel from things that you handle a lot. The "arm" of the lamp isn't repositioned very often, and I don't handle the smoke alarms very much. Nevertheless, I bought the hammered finish brown spray paint (first and last coat) for outdoor things (made for things like patio furnature and other outdoor painting projects) because outdoor paint is a bit more durable.
Reply
:iconpaulherz:
paulherz Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Student Interface Designer
Well, it's an awesome tutorial, anyways. Thanks for answering my question!
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2009
You're welcome! :heart:
Reply
:iconigp:
IGP Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Student Filmographer
Very cool, i gotta try this!

:iconiloveitplz:
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 28, 2009
Thanks! I'd love to see any photos you want to upload if you do!
Reply
:iconigp:
IGP Featured By Owner May 29, 2009  Student Filmographer
will do!

:iconiloveitmoreplz:
Reply
:iconsd-stock:
sd-stock Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Hobbyist Photographer
This is awesome. Can't do much painting in my tiny apartment, but this would be really neat when trying to make props for stock look more realistic.
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 28, 2009
Thanks! I know what it's like to have to deal with the landlord's colors, white is almost always white. But I've been lucky with a landlord that told me to knock myself out because he wants us to stay. We've been here for a long time, and I think he doesn't want the hassle of finding new tenenats.

I had hoped some stocker would find this interesting too... I'd love to see any stock photos that this helps to produce!
Reply
:iconmaffoo:
Maffoo Featured By Owner May 28, 2009
That's excellent.
Reply
:iconlucieg-stock:
LucieG-Stock Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Professional General Artist
That is really nice! I'm going to have to find something to try it on...
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 28, 2009
Thanks! I'd love to see if you use it on anything! :hug:
Reply
:iconlucieg-stock:
LucieG-Stock Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Professional General Artist
It's just a matter of when, but I'll be sure to let you know when I do.
Reply
:iconmikeycd:
mikeycd Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
very interesting, i like people like you that create stuff
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner Oct 17, 2009
:hug:
Reply
:iconkv-arts:
KV-Arts Featured By Owner May 27, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
awesomeness! I can see a whole room with decor painted like this ^^
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
I studied this actual rusty bronze wall fleur as a starting point before I chose the paints. It matches nicely, and I can hang the fleur again, which will now match other pieces in the decor.
Reply
:iconkv-arts:
KV-Arts Featured By Owner May 27, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
that's so cool! it great when you can work from life for an idea :)
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
I've always liked that fleur... And it occurred to me when I decided to redecorate the livingroom that it wouldn't be very expensive to create similar metal tones to accent the whole room. It kind of ties it all together by adding a few more pieces that match. I guess that the good thing about decorating on a tight budget is that it kind of forces one to think of creative alternatives to buying all new stuff.
Reply
:iconkv-arts:
KV-Arts Featured By Owner May 28, 2009  Professional Traditional Artist
true dat. And it always looks better and makes you feel better than if you had bought new stuff =D
Reply
:iconsmilexxi:
SmileXXI Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
This is amazing!!!!! I've been wanting to do this for a long time now and it seems quite easy, you explain it so well. THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!!!!!
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
No problem! :) It's very simple... I'd love to see what you come up with if you try it out!
Reply
:iconsmilexxi:
SmileXXI Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
The bad thing is I'm kinda busy right now, but I'm drooling with the very thought of trying this out!!! like a little kid with a new pair of scissors wanting to cut every piece of paper he can find hahaha. I promise I'll post a a pic as soon as I do it and you'll be the first to know ;)
Reply
:iconfantasystock:
FantasyStock Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
That would be great! Thanks!! No rush... I understand how busy life can be!
Reply
:iconveronica-art:
Veronica-Art Featured By Owner May 27, 2009  Professional General Artist
Super helpfull!! Thanks so much! :heart:
Reply
:iconblindbudget-98:
BlindBudget-98 Featured By Owner May 27, 2009
very helpfull, i thank u.
Reply
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