I recently stumbled upon AK Interactive’s weathering pencils. They look like normals pencils, but are made of a waxy substance that is water-soluble. To get this ouf of the way: The ads make it sound like they might be The Best Thing Ever, but they are certainly not magic. Getting good results requires practice and proper color selection.
For dry application, you want a reasonably sharp point, so keep a pencil sharpener nearby – however, one of my pencils (Chipping Color) repeatedly broke off during sharpening, so I had to leave it a bit dull and do the final sharpening with a hobby knife. I felt that in dry application the pencils did not always deposit enough pigment on the model. Doing small chips with Chipping Color worked quite well, edge highlighting with White not so much. For effects like scratches, you need to make sure that you draw straight lines, as curved lines will look off. The advantage here, compared to brush-painted lines, is that it is very easy to dissolve and remove faint lines by brushing on water. You can also use a pencil eraser.
The big advantage over conventional colored pencils (which I’ve used in the past for streaking effects) is the possibility of wet application. Simply dip the tip into water, and you’ll get a wet smudge on the model that can then be further shaped with a pencil. You can draw it down to get streaking effects, push it into creases to act as wash for shading, or even dilute it further and spread it over a larger area to act as filter. You could get similar results by diluting paint and applying it with a brush, but the simplicity with which you can choose a certain color and apply it in the desired location.
My verdict: these can be useful after a bit of practice, and are quite simple to use. I would not consider them a must-have, as similar effects can be achieved with brushes. But where these days you spend about €3 for a bottle of paint, these pencils priced at approx. €1 make it quite a bit cheaper to get a larger color selection. You can e.g. use green for coolant spills and a dark brown for oil stains.
You can buy single pencils, various sets of five, or the complete set of 37, which is available as box or roll-up bag. If you want to start by trying a few colors, I can suggest the following:
- Chipping Color, a dark reddish brown that looks very much like rusted iron and works well for armor.
- Smoke, a very dark gray for use for blast marks, or diluted as shade.
- Dust/Rainmarks, a light gray that works well in wet application to give a dirt effect.
- One of the rust colors, if you want to go for rust effects.
- A color that can be used as filter, such as one of the browns or Olive Green.
As example, here’s my Star Wars Legion AT-ST. All scratches, streaks, and chips were done with the pencils.