Nov 9, 2023

Voxel design with style: rusty and old

In this article, we are going to explain how to create rusty, dirty or worn-out textures in voxel art, specifically using Magica Voxel

The mission

The aim of this article is to explore techniques for painting and modeling in voxel to create textures resembling rusty metal, dirty surfaces and worn-out finishes.

Rusty gasoline sign


  • Magica Voxel
  • VoxEdit
  • Pinterest
  • PureRef

Modeling and references

The first thing you have to do is to create your 3D model. Looking for different references is a mandatory step. Do not rely on a single image, even if you're going to use it mostly for reference.

Take your time and create a little moodboard of similar objects and the texture propperties you want to apply to your model. Pinterest is a good platform to look for references and create your moodboard. Additionally programs like PureRef are perfect for easiñy creating a board.

Example of a moodboard in Pinterest

Once you finish your moodboard, your next step will be create your object in Magica Voxel. Even if your object has textures of oxidation, cracks or bumps, my recommendation is to model it completely from the beginning.

Materials and properties

Once you have create the object, pay attention to the material which the object is made. Metal surfaces are not the same than brick walls or cement.

  • Old metal surfaces usually present rusty corners or scratches. Furthemore, the surface paint wears out and allows you to see the color of the material on which it was painted.

Reference for old/abandonned house
Reference for rusty

  • Old buildings often accumulate a lot of dirt at the base and in corners. They also have cracks on the walls, humidity issues and the surface paint usually wears out.
  • Warning signals and signs share similarities with metal surfaces. Pay attention to rusty corners and the condition of letters on the signs.
  • Worn-out cement material is kind of different compared to the others. The main characteristics are the big cracks and scatches.

Palette color and creating details

When you have finished the model, your next step will be to select the color palette of the object without rusty or dirty properties. Paint the model as if it has not properties of wear and tear.

After that, take the main colors to create the color palette for the details. We usually create gradients between a color and its darker and lighter versions.

Do not pass signal result
Stop signal result

Color palette 01
Color palette 02

For old rusty metal, we usually create a gradient between dark red and light red, and another between white/cream to medium red. The rusty color is always a red-brown hue. You can change between both of colors depending on the model and the state of the rust.

The most important details when creating rusty textures involve painting darker in some corners, at the base and in some parts in the middle that break the texture. You have to delete some of the letters on signs (but be careful doing this; it’s important that the message can still be read).

Also, deleting the paint from some parts to reveal another color underneath works very well. In this example of an old train sign, you can see that some parts of white paint have been removed, and the blue texture underneath is now visible.

Take of a rusty train signal
Here we worked metal and old painted material

For old walls I create a gradient between the main color of the wall and darker one to paint the base, attemping to simulate the humidity and dust stains.

Abandoned house front

Detail of the humidity and wear out walls

Graffities and cracks work very well in these kinds of elements. Painting some parts of the graffities with the color of the wall helps create the impresion of being old and abandoned. Also, you can delete part of the model to reveal the bricks that compose it. Remember to paint the gaps of the cracks in a darker color.

Abandoned house side

Details of breaks in the wall

Also, in cement materials like barricades, it is very usefull create cracks and bumps and paint details of dirt around the entire model. This kind of material cannot rust, so I prefer to exaggerate the breaks, even revealing the beams under the cement.

Cement barricade front
Cemenent barricade

A recommendation for all the textures is to create a mix of colors in some parts of the stains and scuffs. I usually paint the stain in a darker color, and after that, I paint some parts (borders, corners...) with lighter colors from the same palette.

Example of dirt in signs
Ezample of dirt in signs


These tips are very usefull for creating textures in voxel art. You can follow some of my advice but feel free to add and change some of them based on your way of working.

Try it out and discover new tools and features to help us improve our skills!

Javier Irala
Environment Artist
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