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Dirty Down Moss

Updated: Jan 16, 2023

Greetings one and all,

This is the third part in a series reviewing the Dirty Down paints. We've reviewed rust and Verdigris and now we’re going to review the last paint; Dirty Down Moss. How does it compare to the other paints we’ve reviewed and will it be magic in a bottle as well?

By now I’m sure you all know the basic information about this paint, but just in case let's go over it again. Dirty Down Moss is a water-soluble paint that, when applied, gives a mossy growth effect with a contrast of light and dark colours like you would find in nature. Just like the Dirty Down Rust and Verdigris, Dirty Down Moss can be used straight out of the bottle and can be applied in a number of ways to get different effects (more on that later). Dirty Down Moss comes in 25ml bottles and has quite a strong smell to it, though again, as with the Dirty Down Rust and Verdigris this does disappear once the paint has set.

Much like the previous two Dirty Down paints we’ve reviewed Dirty Down Moss is water-soluble, so it can easily be reactivated once it’s dried by adding some water to the surface. Useful for getting certain effects, but it’s even more useful if you’re not happy with the effect of Dirty Down Moss allowing you to try again until you’re happy with the finish. However, don’t forget that you will need to use a non-water-based sealant on any item you have treated with Dirty Down Moss, as even the moisture on your hands will be able to reactivate this product potentially ruining all the hard work and effort you’ve put into getting the effect you want just right.

I used Rust-Oleum AE0040003E8 400ml Crystal Clear Matt to seal the model, and so far haven’t had any issues with the paint running or re-activating.

Now, let’s discuss how to use Dirty Down Moss. Much like with Dirty Down Rust and Verdigris, there are a few ways to apply this paint as well as some key rules that each has in common, so if you’ve had experience with any of the Dirty Down products, or read my previous articles, you’ll see the process is more or less the same. Either way though, I’ll quickly go over the basics.:

  • Always use a clean brush and make sure to clean your brush straight away when finished. Do not let this paint dry into the brush or it may cause damage to it.

  • The paint contains some solids; these are normal and part of the solution, but before use, make sure the paint is warm (leave it in a cup of hot water or something before use), then give the bottle a good shake until all the solids have dissolved into the solution. (I strongly suggest adding some agitator balls to better mix the solids).

  • If you use water to thin the solution, do not add the water to the pot. Decant the amount you need into a separate container and then add water to what you’ve decanted to avoid the paint from separating or activating inside the pot, rendering it unusable.

  • The surfaces that the solution is applied to should be warm to achieve the best effects (a hair dryer works really well for this).

Brush Method

Using a brush and either taking the solution from the pot or, if you’ve thinned it down, the container you've thinned it down into, start to apply layers of the solution. If you want a light effect then you will only need to apply a single coat, but for heavier effects, you’ll need to add more coats making sure that each layer is fully dry before you add the next.

I really struggled to make this paint work for me, the best way I found was to heat the area and then wet it slightly, afterwards I used a brush to apply the paint neat to the area. Once it was dry I then applied a little more water to activate it again as I found the second time it dried it gave a much better result. However, this wasn’t always the case, so I would suggest you experiment with this paint yourself.

Cloth/Dabbing method

Pour Dirty Down Moss onto a sponge, cloth, kitchen towel, tissue etc. and then dab the area where you want the verdigris effect to be. Keep dabbing until the paint has dried. The amount of paint on your dabbing implement will affect the result; a light amount will get you a lighter colour, while a large amount will get you a darker colour.

This is the first time I’ve used this method and liked it. I thinned the paint down with warm water and then dabbed the paint on the area. Once a far amount was on and drying, I used my hairdryer to speed up the drying process. I found that this version gave a more natural and veiny moss effect. I would suggest that you are careful if you intend to wipe away some of the effects, as I found that even a slightly damp cloth is enough to wipe away nearly all of the paint.

Spray Method

Spray Dirty Down Verdigris through an airbrush. Much like other methods, the darker the effect you want, the more layers you’ll have to use. It should also be noted that you should wash your brush immediately after use so the paint doesn’t clog it up as it dries.

I quite like the bright colour that airbrushing gives the paint, it’s a really bright vibrant green and if I was trying to get a moss effect over a large area, this would be my method of doing it. I sprayed the area I wanted the effect on a added a few extra coats in the corners after the paint had dried I used a damp cloth to wipe away the excess paint giving me this really nice effect.

Moss over Rust

Can you use the various paints over each other? Yes. That is the simple answer, but there is a little more to it than that. As all of the paints in this series are water-soluble and can easily be reactivated once dried by adding some water to the surface you must seal the paint below before applying a newer coat.

To test this, I used a wall that’s had the Rust effect used on it already and as I had sealed the piece, any water shouldn’t reactivate the Dirty Down Rust below. I applied the Moss paint using the brush method and found that the varnish I had applied made the paint more difficult to work with, especially when getting the paint to pool where I wanted it to, but it was still possible to work with it and it did keep the Dirty Down Rust from reactivating as expected. It gave a nice splash of colour to the wall and I’m glad to see this is in fact possible.


So I’ll break this summary up into two parts, first looking at the Dirty Down Moss Paint and then looking at the range as a whole.

I like Dirty Down Moss, it gives a really nice effect with the colour combination that occurs within the dried paint, looking very much like natural moss. However, I found this to be the hardest of the three paints to work with, with the paint needing to be warm, the area the paint was to be applied to also needing to be warm and slightly wet to get the best results, and even when all this was done, I couldn’t get the effect to occur consistently, leading to multiple reactivation attempts which in the end risked ruining the effect entirely. But, if you can get this to work consistently then it gives a really great effect that I think would be hard to replicate another way. If I could get this to work consistently even 80% of the time, then I’d recommend it, but as it is, I can’t in good faith say you should get this paint. For me, it’s too inconsistent to warrant the price and the amount of effort necessary to get the desired result.

Regardless, Dirty Down Rust, Verdigris and Moss are a great range of paints. I really like them all and the modelling opportunities they provide. I do think they’re a little expensive, at around £7-8 for a 25ml pot, but once you’ve mastered their use you really are getting magic in a bottle. I really recommend getting some and giving each of them a try.

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