Friday Quick Tip: Sponge Painting Battle Damage

I recently stumbled across the idea of using a piece of foam/spongy material to add random patterned battle damage/wear and tear to my models. As soon as I read about it I just HAD to give it a try on a model. The first model I used it on was my test piece for my recently decided upon Sons of Medusa, which you can see at the bottom of this post for a full example of how this technique looks.

Step One is to paint your model up to normal standard with your base colors, I have used Space Wolves colors here since I've got a bunch of the Wolves laying about not doing anything!

Step Two starts by finding an appropriate spongy material. For this tutorial I used a small chunk of blister pack foam:Once you've located an appropriate material, rip off a ragged piece like I have above and dip an end into a darker colored paint. For this tutorial I mixed 50/50 Shadow Grey/Chaos Black. Apply the color to the model where damage would normally take place. Don't worry about being too liberal, you can always clean it all back up with the base color to get just the right amount of damage.

Step Three is as simple as highlighting the bottom edges of the damaged areas to add a slight bit of depth to the 2D surface. Here I've used Space Wolves Grey.

You can really go nuts with this technique in both color variation as well as amount of damage you apply. The randomness of the ragged sponge pieces help add realism compared to hand painting it on. I plan on using this on many many more projects in the future. It's just to simple!

What have you used to get realistic battle damage on projects? Feel free to share your ideas and experiences!


  1. Great idea, it's very realistic indeed. I'm really liking these Friday Quick Tips!

  2. I personally clip into my models edges and then paint black and silver in the crevice, because of the way the armour splits it makes it look like different amounts of fire and scratches have caught them.

  3. Brilliant, simply brilliant! Thanks for posting that. I will definably be trying out that technique. Do you think it will work on vehicles?

  4. Another nice one, I saw something similar just the other day and now I know that I've got to try this next time around.

    It's so simple.

  5. Great tipp. What do you think? Can this be used to make some damage to vehicles?
    I think, you can dipp the sponge in some boltgun metall or chainmail. But what would be good for the edge of the damage?

  6. Thanks for the comments folks.

    Some quick replies:

    Gamers World: I've never been huge on actual battle damage, always preferring to paint on any weathering and damage. But the more I get into the idea of battle damage, the more inclined I am to give drastic techniques like yours a try.

    Rebreather: I definitely think it would work out on vehicles of any kind. Any sort of painted armor, this technique should work.

    Tobias: As I mentioned to Rebreather, this should work out nicely for vehicles. I would personally stay away from using metallics for the scratches, at least the small ones, as the scale seems to be lost when you use them. I'd instead go for a darker color like I have here, or go for a orange/brown to indicate some rusting effects.

  7. Interesting!

    I tend to physically add the damage during construction. For bulletholes in Marine shoulderpads, for example, I'll drill holes in the pad and add craters around them with an x-acto knife.

  8. This is a great tip, thank you for sharing. Its working really well on my Deathwing.

    Im not getting results as good on my Dark Angels though. Theyre painted with a very dark pallete so Im struggling to find the relevant colour to use as the base. Dont suppose you guys have any tips on how this effect could be achieved on darker coloured armour?

  9. Thats my question too - how do I get this type of effect on black armour? It looks awesome, thanks!

  10. People always bring up the dark armor/black question, but in truth, it works just fine as it stands above! I've used camo green on black before as the chipped color and highlighted with bleached bone (the same colors I use for my Sons of Medusa chipping) and it looks just as good if not better on the black!

    You could also try a dark metallic color or rusted colors. The biggest thing is that the edges are properly highlighted to create the depth.