I use the "Real Touch" gundam markers (waterbase, with brush & fine tips) either dark grey, black or brown depending on the gun color. Brush all over and let the 'dirt' sinks into details, rivets, grooves...etc. Then slowly wipe off the excessive dirt with paper towel. The Real Touch markers are made to smudge when wet or dry, and can clean off with water or just some rubbing, so ideal to get the weathering effect. But if you don't have access to those markers, a good old enamel dirt wash (diluted enamel paint with thinner) will do. Just make sure you use thinner that is not strong and damage the plastic. I had great results with Tamiya's X-20 enamel thinner, while Testors can melt your gun. Then I use some silver markers for metal wear & highlights, let the paint dry on the tip of the marker. Too much wet paint would make the highlights too thick and ugly. Then put very subtle silver on certain edges, corners, and detail bits. If I want some mud, I'll add some smudge of enamel sand or mud dirt colors in some spots too. When everything is done, I add a semi-gloss clear coat lacquer spray (Model Master) on top to seal the details, so all the gundam marker and smudging are staying for good, while semi-gloss makes the gun to have a sheen, but not too shiny(especially a weathered dirty gun).
Here is an example of a M60 I did recently. Pretty effective, and doesn't take long. You can get one done in 30 mins to an hour, without all the messy paint and clean up, as long as you have access to the markers.
It aldepends on how the wepaons going to be used.
regular weeathering, like an SS truppen on Dday, I highlight most of the metal parts with a thin wash, and go over the entire weapon with tan pastel.
for desert, I use only tan pastel, adn lots of it.
For a snow filled area, I use off -white pastel, and some wet salt to look like stuck snow.
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