Glad you asked. These are little 2oz. bottles of acrylic paint I found in the craft section of Walmart. The brand is Apple Barrel.
They have a boatload of colors, but I just bought red, yellow, blue, black and white. I figured I can mix the above to get any greens, oranges or purples I wanted, and can use the black and white to darker or lighten things.
Best part? .50 a bottle (and it's pretty wet, and goes a long way).
I bought a few of those .57 chip brushes and I just basically dry-brushed it on there, with the grain, pretty light. This type of project (weathered, distressed, etc.) is very forgiving and you really can't go wrong. If you suck at painting, like I do, that almost works in your favor because you're not trying to get full, even coverage. Anywhere there are cracks and divots, knots, etc., the paint falls into (or stays out of). I don't overwork it, really.
As for the white, it goes on much to "clean" and bright, so I dropped just a tiny bit of black into some warm water and make a dishwater-y gray wash, which I lightly drag across the white, letting it fall into the grain in places and create streaks. with a dry brush or paper towel, I drift across it to feather/spread it out a bit.
So, in a nutshell, a combination of dry-brush dabbing and tinted washes to knock down the white. The colors I bought were called Admiral Blue and Flag Red, but they're quite vibrant. I added a skootch of black to each (I mix all this in little plastic cocktail tumblers from the Dollar Tree (12-15 for $1). So the red and blue are just custom mixes that I eyeballed, because the red from the bottle is Fisher-Price fire truck, and the blue is really electric/royal blue. Adding the black, then the dry brushing/scattering and the "dirty wash" as needed is all I did.
I made these a few days ago, the U.S. flag is 36x19 inches and I gave it to my mom. And I made the Arizona flag for my friend Tiffany and her family, who live in Gilbert, outside Phoenix. Same techniques here...mixed colors until it looked good, dry-brushed, aged/dirtied-up, lots of dabbing, sometimes going on with a wet wash and wipe with a towel in about 20 seconds to get the stained effect (like the bottom blue panels on the AZ flag).
Coke can for scale...
For the stars, I created the grid at the proper 1:1 size in Illustrator (all these things are done in Illustrator, to scale, first...then I either print templates/stencils as needed, or I'll just use the measurements, knowing it's going to work in real life), did the 12x10 grid for the alternating 6 and 5 star rows, printed it out (had to tape two letter-size pages together, but I may some indexing/registration marks, taped them together and sat with an X-acto knife for about half an hour cut every all 50 of those little 1" bastards out by hand, making me a 14x10 stencil that fit/registered to the blue field. I taped at the top and corners to keep it aligned/in place and I then just dry-dabbed on white through the stencil, holding it down tight for the ones I was working on (and pretty much painting the fingers on my left hand white in the process).
For the wood itself - all brand new 1x2 from Home Depot - I threw them around the driveway and beat them with a wrench and gouged them with an old screwdriver in a few places. I imagine I looked like a crazy person to any neighbors who happened to be watching.
I'm enjoying this because it's using the two sides of me...I get to draw/lay it all out with precision/accuracy in my favorite software (and make custom templates, stencils, etc. at any size I need)...then I get up from the computer, grab some boards and do some hands-on wood/build-y stuff...cutting, sanding, fitting, clamping, measuring, painting, gluing, screwing, etc. It's a neat mixture of the two fields. I couldn't have done the shield above without working out the radiuses and proportions in Illustrator first and "see" it.
I also use Sketchup to get a general idea of depths/overall sizes (stand it next to one of those little person symbols to get a sense of real life scale) and to "go behind" and work out the bracing/support pieces. Before I touch/saw a single board, I've worked everything out in Illustrator and/or Sketchup beforehand. Then it's just a matter of following my cut list/established numbers. The only real "trick"/unknown is the painting, and how I mix colors (mixing enough for what I need so it's consistent across the piece...getting better at that).
I'm wanting someone to ask me to do some pride flags, mostly because that'll give me a chance to custom mix some orange, green and purple and
it would just be size slats braced together...one of the simpler projects. It would look good but not require a bunch of work (and a good money-maker to fund the trickier, more challenging stuff).
Currently working up a dimensional Union Jack, with the white crosses raised a quarter-inch off the blue background, and then the red inner crosses jutting out from it. Kinda like the shield, only in flag form. The wood will be angle cut to fit in like a tile job. Working it all out and will probably tackle it this coming weekend (how's that for irony).