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How to Distress and Weather Props

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Wolfie (Crystal Bass)
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:42 pm    Post subject: How to Distress and Weather Props Reply with quote


Dis-tress (verb)
To mar or otherwise treat (an object or fabric, for example) to give the appearance of an antique or of heavy prior use:

1. To expose to the action of the elements, as for drying, seasoning, or coloring.
2. To discolor, disintegrate, wear, or otherwise affect adversely by exposure.
3. To show the effects, such as discoloration, of exposure to the elements:

Distressing and Weathering your costume or prop is a must. It's little details like these that separate the weekend hobbyist from the hardcore craftsman.

The key to weathering and distressing is observation. Ultimately you need to be aware of the effects of wear and tear on the items around you and in the world in general. Your friends with think you are strange as you stare at a rust stain on a '63 Chevy, but let them think you are strange, you are studying.

There are various way of distressing and weathering your costume or prop. One of the most common way is to rub your item into the ground to give it that used look. While this does work, as you use the item the dirt and grime wears off. Most theater and film professionals decide to paint the distressing effect on to the item. This technique makes the desired look last alot longer (especially through the rigors of a film shoot).

The amount of distressing and weathering varies from prop to prop and genre to genre. Star Wars is much more of a "lived in" world than Star Trek, while Horror Movies are even more "lived in" than Star Wars.

Another factor to consider is "what conditions were the item supposedly used in"? Was the item always out in the sun, or in a moist pit? Was it handled daily or just once a year? You don't want that Tattoine Evaporator Droid looking all shiny and new when it was supposed to be in the blazing sun 24 hours a day. Different techniques will be used to achieve different looks.

The website has a link table to the right listing several ways to acheive certain looks:




Color Wash:


Flaking Paint:

Vinyl to Leather:
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