Cosplay 101: Weathering

Blog Tutorials
Date 4 March 2014
I absolutely love love love weathering! I actually used to be somewhat scared of it, always wondering if I was adding too much or too little. But it has certainly grown on me lately. So I am here to share my weathering techniques and hopefully help anyone who reacts to it like I once did. Now remember this tutorial is based on experience and I’m sure there are more ways to apply grim to your cosplays, but this is just to help you get started or at least give you ideas. The act of weathering is basically adding grim, dirt, blood, chipped paint, ripped clothing, and so on. It comes in handy for adding details to a character that is known for fighting or being in messy situations. I also like to use weathering to help smaller details pop better for photos and making anything painted metal to look more like…well metal. But more on all that later.
  • Does my costume need to be weathered?
This all depends on where your cosplay comes from and what your character does. Consider these questions..
  1. Is the game/anime/series realistic?
  2. Is the character normally messy or do messy things like fighting or climbing buildings?
  3. Would weathering fit the style of the character and the genre it comes from?
Once you decide that you want to grim up your costume now you can start considering what to use to do so!
  • What should I use to weather my costume?
Weathering is not precise so what you use to add grim to your cosplay is not super important. But it is good to know what will last on your costume and what won’t so you don’t get stuck having to add more dirt to it after every wear. Shoe Polish–When weathering fabrics I almost always use shoe polish, doesn’t matter if it’s old or new…I’m pretty sure the stuff I use is over five years old. It’s easy to apply with a stiff oil brush and how dark it appears depends on how much polish you add. And if you add too much then it can be lightened if you rub it into the fabric for a bit. I mainly use black or brown shoe polish. The polish does tend to slowly wear off after some time and I don’t suggest washing your garment after it’s added. And it doesn’t really stay on props or anything that isn’t fabric. Paint–This includes fabric paint, acrylic paint, and spray paint. What type you use is really up to your preference. I prefer to do my weathering by hand with acrylic since it’s easier to control. Beware when using paint on fabric because it has a tendency to stiffen the material when applied too thickly. Stay simple with your colors, dirt isn’t multicolored! I always use blacks, browns, and greys.
  • Where should I add grim to my costume?
While weathering should be random there is a method to the madness. Rather then just slapping paint onto your costume try to focus on the creases and seams. That’s were the dirt would naturally collect even if the character would try to wipe it off. Also don’t be afraid to add a lot of weathering to your costume. The more you add, the better it will show up in photos.
  • Weathering Techniques/Effects

Basic Dirt and Grim on Fabric

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Material: Shoe Polish, fake Blood (makeup), and a stiff oil brush.

For darker clothing I tend to use black shoe polish for weathering if it shows up, and mainly brown polish for the lighter materials. Remember to consider how dirty your character can be and base your weathering off that.

  1. Using the stiff brush apply the polish to the clothing. As usual focus on the seams, edges, and stitching. Out of preference I almost always apply the polish in a downward motion and gradient toward the bottom of the seams.
  2. Add a few random smudges anywhere you please to add variety.
  3. If blood is needed then load up a brush with it. I use a tub of old fake blood normally used for makeup. Take the brush and fling it onto the clothing to create nice splatters. If your character has a weapon of some sort then focus the blood on the side where they use it.

Chipped Paint

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Materials: Acrylic paint, stiff brush, and a damp cloth. Since this gun is white I opted for Gunmetal Grey acrylic to weather since black would be a bit too dark. I used a light grey for the mask. This technique is best used if your prop is spray painted or painted with anything other than acrylic paint.
  1. Load up the stiff brush with paint and tap it into the creases and seams. Avoid brush strokes, you want a spotty pattern. Let the paint dry.
  2. Take a damp cloth and lightly rub at the paint in a circular motion. Any paint not in the seam will come off, the amount of pressure you apply depends on how much is removed.

 Sun Bleached Effect


 Materials: Spray Paint This method works best with dark colors, mainly black clothing. Black naturally turns brown when left in the sun for too long so brown and light brown spray paint is needed.
  1. Start the base coat by taking the brown paint and spraying it onto the clothing. You only want to give it a light dusting so spray at least a foot or two away from your target.
  2. Once the base is done take the light brown and spray around the edges and any tears to add color variation. Try not to cover too much of your base coat or apply it too thickly.


These are the majority of the techniques I use for weathering. A possible part 2 may come in the future since I don’t want to make this post too long. Please feel free to leave a comment or ask any questions!

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  • Anthony 2 years agoReply

    I was looking for a way a paper mache mask, ironically is a plague doctor mask and I found this by the plague mask that I googled. Thanks for the simple instructions.