View Full Version : Distressing Question

04-28-2009, 08:13 PM
Hey guys, since there is finally a place for this:

I need to distress some new cloths, think active war zone, debris on cloths, dust - etc.

I've seen the Schmere aging crayons and the powder, and I think that is what I need, but I've yet to find a source that says how to use it.

This is pretty much a section I know nothing about. Any help would be appreciated.

04-28-2009, 11:55 PM
I need to do basically the same thing. I was thinking of giving the clothes a wash with some dark paint (acrylic?) and then the dust is another question.

Sad Max
04-29-2009, 07:44 AM
Don't forget the classics for aging/dyeing: coffee and tea. Cheap and frequently effective. Rit dyes, too. Specialized products are sometimes (but not always) the same as common drugstore items, repackaged and upwards-priced...you can also find cheap student-grade pastels, select the colors you want, grind them up, mix them, apply and fix to taste...

Larry Rutledge
04-29-2009, 09:04 AM
My wife once did the tea trick to die a white tablecloth and it came out with that nicely aged, yellow look. Worked very well

Sad Max
04-29-2009, 09:06 AM
Fuller's Earth, too. Great for dirtying stuff down.

04-29-2009, 09:20 AM
I'm not a pro by any means but this is some stuff I've done:

Stretching the clothes and hitting them with some sand paper especially at seams and edges works great for a really worked and "battled" look. Or use a wire brush. If you really want to go to town, like they got hit by a truck, use a grinder and take out chunks of the clothes but be careful not to get tha fabric caught in the grinder. Use clamps to hold down the clothes.

I've also just used spray paint and lightly misted the clothes but this does leave a sligthly tacky residue on the clothes. Works great for grass stains or on the lower legs where they would be walking through mud, grass, brush, what ever.

When on set you can also hit them with some fullers earth to dust them up.


Here is a link I had book marked on how to distress an Indiana Jones bag, I'm sure you could apply some of this to what you are doing:


He also has one on the gloves:

04-29-2009, 01:35 PM
I've done distressing on a large sheet we used in a "throne" type room before using tea and coffee and it worked very well. Just this stuff is black tactical gear and a black tactical vest. Which is why I wasn't exactly sure what to do.

But I was actually looking at the fuller's earth stuff too. And wasn't exactly sure if that was what I needed - because there is zero information on it anywhere it seems. But thanks for the tips guys.

And I am glad we could start putting this side forum to good use. :)

04-29-2009, 09:11 PM
You could just borrow my normal clothes, or:




this topic is really distressing ;) -- sorry I couldn't help myself.

04-30-2009, 06:46 AM
I once discharged a single round (.40) into hamper full of my clothes 'to check' weapon status and sure enough, a round was chambered and fired successfully into the hamper, went through the hardwood floor and dropped like a fly onto the kitchen floor below ( gulp).
It made a fantastic mess of my clothes but everyone wanted to know how I achieved that "war torn" look. Now I have a collection of T-shirts & shorts that look perfect for visiting the nearest war zone -
Now you know ;)

Sad Max
04-30-2009, 07:59 AM
I think we need a thread on firearms safety...

04-30-2009, 09:41 AM
I think we need a thread on firearms safety...

I second that!

05-01-2009, 05:41 AM
I made a pretty distressed looking tarp by taking the large piece of canvas, dying it in the washing machine with a light tan Ritt dye, Then put it on the concrete basement floor, sprinkled dark brown Ritt dye in spots, then rubbed it in with my shoes. Also splatter some dark brown dye with finger tips, etc. Same with some maroon dye. Looked pretty good, I was after a distressed tarp in the back of a pickup truck look.

Reith tv-films
07-02-2009, 02:15 PM
Hope it's okay to revive this fairly dormant thread!
I've worked with many costume designers and their assistants (which can be a distressing experience in itsef! - that's the gag out of the way!) mostly through the eighties and nineties when at the BBC in London, and each one of them had their own way to 'distress' or 'break-down' fabric for the
show or film they were doing.
Fuller's earth was used of course - as has been mentioned already in this thread, and various dyes - but two key things were routinely used by pretty much all of them,
coloured HAIRSPRAY usually either brown or grey, I can't remember the name of it, but it came in oversized, pro salon aerosol spray cans.
This was probably - I don't definately know - used because it allowed for a more subtle form of transition, with the possibility of washing it out again, if necessary, than if using paint.

The other was a cheese-grater, which can be very effective in breaking-down just about any type of fabric. (judging by the weird diets most of them were on, I doubt weather they ever used them for such exotic things as making a toasted cheese sandwich!)

As usual with the 'art Dept.' side of film-making there is precious little on the 'net (in comparison to the tech side) but if You haven't already seen it, have a look at this from Jessica Risser-Milne, Who is a Theatre Costume Designer;

Cheers, Theron.

Sad Max
07-02-2009, 02:22 PM
Streaks-and-Tips is a popular hairspray product for the purpose, around here...

Reith tv-films
07-02-2009, 05:11 PM

With Mattykins' original post in mind, I think the level of distressing needed to achieve acceptable realism depends on how closely the camera will be seeing it, the circumstances of the scene (day? night/twilight?)
would it be raining or very muddy, would a high level of authenticity (of uniform) be relevant? etc., all these things alter the degree and amount of distressing of the costume.


07-02-2009, 07:00 PM

I just went out and hired someone. Haha.

Thanks for the blog tip though. I'll be sure to check it out. Cheers!

Sad Max
07-02-2009, 07:05 PM
That link should be stickied somewhere prominent.

Mods, make it so.

09-05-2009, 06:49 PM
I had to shoot a scene depicting the final moments of a 2 day battle.

Since we were doing it guerilla I just had the guys dress up in their new costumes, then drop, roll and crawl on the sand while we poured water and a tomato paste mixture on them. After that they'd run around and tear as much off of each others clothes off for like 2 mins.

By the time we started filming the paste dried up with the mud and gave this really dirty, dark texture in random spots and sizes.

All in all it gave an amazing result in less than 5 mins, they also got into character very well and when we screened the film everyone was shocked a how authentic their costumes ended up looking.

In this case these guys were friends and I told them that it's the only way everyone does (yes I lied to get a good laugh). Good memories for all involved though.

09-06-2009, 04:49 PM
Try and post a few shots so we can see, thx!

09-06-2009, 09:29 PM
I second that!
LOL! I was only kidding. Guys... I WRITE for a living:engel017: