Model Railroad Weathering Tips

model railroad weatheringGet Weathering That Scenery!

Here’s a weathering tip I’d like to share with everyone – you can easily simulate the accumulation of dirt, soot, and even rust with a variety of paints.  When you apply these paints in a thin, washed-out fashion, they’ll “age” your buildings, practically overnight.Start your weathering process using a flat, water-based acrylic paint.  Be sure the paint doesn’t contain any solvents that might attack the plastic or the existing paint on the model.

Before you weather any building, become a student of older buildings.  Study the details of structures; how soot clings to the walls, how the dirt splashed up from past rains is splayed on the sides of the buildings.  While you’re observing, don’t forget to take a serious look (Who else besides a railroader or a budding Leonardo da Vinci would do this?) at how the sun affects different structures.  Some sections of the buildings may be more faded than others, depending on the position of the sun.

A tip on rusty roofing effects you might find handy – this is for where u want to make that aluminum roof on your mill appear rusty.  Here’s a great way to do that, using what has been dubbed a “sweet ‘n’ sour” solution.  Soak several steel wool pads in household vinegar for a minimum of a few days and a maximum of one week.  The acetic nature of this solution partially dissolves the steel wool.  Brush this steel wool-laden mixture on the aluminum or wood roof.  The iron readily combines with the oxygen in the air to form rust.

When weathering wood, lay it on a sheet of glass already moistened with the solution before you douse the piece.  This helps prevent it from warping.  If you’re too impatient to wait for this to dry, just take a hair blower and “blow dry” it.  If you want the wood darker, just repeat the process. This method works equally well with plaster.  Simply brush on this solution and allow it to dry.  If the effect isn’t as dark as you had envisioned, do it again. You can also buy commercial marker pens that are made expressly for creating this effect.  There’s even a set aimed at weathering vehicles, bridges, and plastic buildings!

This is a “Distressing” tip I wanted to share — usually that term disturbs us, but in model railroading (and a few other hobbies), it’s not an attitude, it’s an action. Hobbyists distress buildings to make the new appear old.  Here’s a clever and quick way to do just that.  It involves placing two different shades of paint onto one building in a very realistic way. Paint the initial base coat of your building with a lighter shade of paint.  Let this dry.  Then dab on some rubber cement in specific areas.  These areas will appear “distressed” and beat up when you’re done.  Let the rubber cement dry.  Now, without removing the rubber cement, paint your darker, final coat onto your building.  That’s right, you’re painting right over that dried rubber cement.

Once your second coat has dried, gently peel off the rubber cement.  This takes the dark paint with it, and reveals the lighter base coast underneath. Looking pretty distressed, isn’t it?  But you’re not quite done yet.  Next, brush the area with a wash made from a mixture of thinned-out India ink and alcohol.  Now your building looks distressed!

Extra weathering tip: don’t forget to add some soot to a few buildings.  (Even Santa Clause ends up covering in this black stuff when he does his yearly travel gig.)  Soot builds up on smokestacks, over tunnel portals, and on engine houses, giving them a fine dusting of black.Don’t weather your buildings and scenery with horizontal strokes; most weathering effects are vertical.  After all, that’s how the rain usually falls.

Weathering your locomotives and rolling stock

No train stays bright and shiny forever.  Just as you’ve applied weathering techniques to the structures in your scenery, you may want to weather your locomotives and rolling stock as well.

You could go to the hobby shop and buy something called “chalk weathering.”  If you have children or grandchildren, you can just as easily borrow their chalk.

Scrape sticks of chalk onto a piece of paper.  Choose a dark color, or mix several different colors together until you get a dark color.  Then simply brush these chalk shavings on the locomotives and your rolling stock. When you’re done, spray the models with Dullcoat.  This ensures your weathering won’t fall off.

If you use commercial weathering products, you won’t have to spray sealant to ensure their adherence.  These products already contain a fixative that helps to keep the chalk stuck to the model’s surface.

The added benefit of using commercial chalk is the wide array of colors that are immediately applicable to your needs.  They come in colors you’ll use frequently, such as black, burnt sienna, and rust — the colors that most resemble residue, soot, and rust.

 

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