test Fake rust effect made easy on foam armor – by Germia – GERMIA
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Fake rust effect made easy on foam armor – by Germia

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Fake rust effect made easy on foam armor – by Germia

One of the big challenges of cosplay is to make something real (like metal armor) or unreal (like magical wings)  come to life using different crafts and different art supplies available.

Rust is one of those things, that seem very hard to accuratelly mimic, so I decided to try different techniques and figure out which technique is the most convincing and which of the rust effects has the best properties to be used at foam armor.


Finding the referrence pictures for the thing you want to make is a very important step in your creation process. Much more important in making rust effects, because there are so many different rust colors and shapes, that you may want to mimic:

Rusting chipping off from a painted metal
Very old metal nut covered in a lot of rust and dirt layers
Not always has rust a mass and grain, it can just change the color of the surface

Dripping rust on mostly vertical surfaces

Finding your referrence and deciding if there is a big mass of rust and dirt or if there is just a slight shade of rust color, that doesn’t require using any medium, just colors, is an important tip.

What is also important is, that rust is more profound on places, where water and dirt would pile up (creases, hardly accessible places) or on places, where it is the most exposed to the weather conditions.


Choosing the right medium for your project is another important step. I was making a cosplay armor out of foam, which would stay flexible for the most time, so I was looking for something, that wouldn’t just look good, but would also be able to bend and flex.

I prepared four pieces of foam, that I primed and painted the same as the armor of Apollyon. If you want to learn how to make this, please, follow my tutorial HERE.


Real rust sounds very impressive to me, so I decided to include it in the test. I found THIS TUTORIAL by Arkadycosplay and gathered all the necessary materials:

The most important thing is to mix those supplies:

1) Hydrogen peroxide – be sure to buy the stronger version, not the one for cleaning ears.

2) Vinegar

3) Metal powder

4) Spray bottle

5) Salt

in a ratio of 6 parts hydrogenated peroxide, 3 parts vinegar, and 1 part salt in spray bottle. Stick the metal powder on your armor and spray it with the mixture. That’s very basicly how it’s done, but for the full tutorial, click on the link above.

So, let’s take a look on how I did:

I started with purchasing ferrous powder out of e-bay, because I didn’t have such luck as Arkadycosplay finding the ferrous powder in a any sculpting or crafting supply store. The first unsettling thing was the color of the powder, which was much darker than I expected. And I think the powder’s questionable composition was the main reason why my experiment failed. I didn’t give up and purchased a ferrous powder from a store for chemical industry, but my experiment failed again and instead of a rusty surface, I got a black mash on the armor piece, which crumbled off when dried.

I wasn’t happy my experiment failed, but maybe you can learn from my mistakes, find a better powder to work with and use this for your props. On the other side I didn’t expect to use real rust, because I know real rust is crumbly and not flexible and I really needed the rust to stay on the armor and be flexible.


I found a special paste called EASY ROST in local crafts store, that is meant for painting rust, where you should combine two different colors + yellow tint to achieve a convincingly rusty effect.

I tried it and I have to admit even I didn’t use it as my go to way of paintign my armor eventually because of too strong color with a lot of reddish hues, I find this way the easiest and fastest for flexible armor. The outcome is very convincing and flexible.

You just start by choosing the red or brown paste, then add as much as you want to achieve the mass and the color you want and after that you add some yellow for different hues and for making the result more natural and non-conform.

Here’s a short video of how to use this paste:

And here is me using this technique on one pauldron. After that I decided to use rather the technique 4, but I blended both techniques together quite well:

Sledujte hru Apollyon cosplay od uživatele DATgermia na adrese www.twitch.tv


There are several different spraypaints for creating rust effects, but I have bought this one from Maston.

Obviously I didn’t plan to use it for my armor entirely, but I was curious what is achievable with this paint and how convincing would the surface look.

This product is very handy for large surfaces, or if you need to cover something in rust entirely. It does have a little too conform color, so the look isnt really organic, but I think it can be fixed by using airbrush.

It also doesn’t have a lot of mass in itself, it makes just a delicate grainy surface.


I tried to use a sctructure gel, that can be used for making the acrylic colors dry slower and make their mass more profound. I had at the time of the experiment just the glossy one, but for my armor, I’ve used a satin matte one to get rid of the shine. I know rust has a grainy texture, so I’ve used some fine sand I collected at a beach. And since the outcome of mixing those two ingredients is quite transparent, you’ll need some acrylics to finish the look.

The best colors you can use are: Dark brown to red, orange and yellow. I thought I would use some old brass and copper colors too, but rust is not that „fancy“, it has mostly matte color with reddish shade, so I’ve used Umber, Burnt sienna and two shades of brwonish yellow eventually.

Start by using your brown color to mark areas on your armor, where you want the rust to appear. When satisfied, mix your sand with acrylic structure till you have a paste from it and apply it in unevenly on your marked places on your armor. Wait till it’s completelly dry (it will be transparent – now you can see the places because you’ve applied the brown acrylic color first).

Then start by painting the whole rusty area dark brown, then add burnt sienna (reddish color) in a smaller amount unevenly and end up by drybrushing the rusty area with your chosen yellow color very carefully.

You can watch me using this technique on my helmet and gloves in this livestream recording:

Sledujte hru Apollyon cosplay od uživatele DATgermia na adrese www.twitch.tv


There are a lot of other ways how to do a rust effect for your cosplay, so you can take a look at them too:


Coffee (or Covfefe)

Model kits with salt


Here is the picture of all my tested products:

1) Real rust (failed) – right upper corner

2) Rostpaste – left upper corner

3) Rust spraypaint – left bottom corner

4) Acrylic gel with sand – right bottom corner

 And here are some pictures of the finished armor with rust effects using 4th technique:

Process of painting
Gauntlets in different painting stages
Acrylic structure gel is drying

Pictures of my finished cosplay:

Germia + Antony Gomes
Germia + Milos Mlady
Germia + Photo Kay

This article was made with support of my Patrons on my Patreon! There will be no time doing this without them!

I hope this article will be useful for someone and if yes, you can follow my work on cosplay (and other stuff) on my FACEBOOK PAGE or TWITTER or INSTAGRAM.

And if you like this stuff I do, you can support my work by donating on my PATREON.



Published: 03.07.19 10:01, Pacific Standard Time

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