Weathering is a topic that has gained in popularity over the years. Some of us are old enough to remember when no manufacturers would offer anything weathered and it was very rare to see custom weathered models at shows or on layouts in magazines.
Although it’s not for everyone, for many people it does add another element of realism. After all, you only have to study the prototype or photos to see the railway is generally a dirty place!
The manufacturers started offering what they called weathering – the bottom half of the vehicle oversprayed with brown paint – but it has now developed into an art form.
SRC member Josh Windows shoes how he tackles the subject.
Slap it on wipe it off.
After using the Stafford Railway Circle’s ‘Show and Tell’ area to share with other members my lockdown weathering projects on OO gauge wagons, the Webmaster has asked me to write a short article on my methods to share with non-members of the club.
Lockdown 1, March 2020.
There is only so much watching television and looking at brick walls I can do. After looking through old photos of trains in the 1950’s/60’s, I notice my wagons looked unrealistically clean. After watching a few YouTube videos on different weathering methods, I initially used some old wagons and tried some of the different methods, such as dry brushing. I only owned 4 different colours of paint at this point and did not have a clue what I was doing! I have never had an eye for art or been any good at it, so I just ‘winged it’ to begin with, some pictures of my early experiments below:
For those unfamiliar with dry brushing, the process consists of wiping off most of the paint from the brush before the paint left on the bristles is scraped off onto the surface of the wagon. I found this worked well and did not use too much paint up, however, it was very time-consuming, and I couldn’t always get the paint into the small cracks and crevices of the wagons, where dirt would have been more likely to build up.
After trying this method on other shaped wagons, I found I could not always get the finish I wanted, and it would often take between 3 or 4 layers before the wagon would look a good standard.
After asking for advice and different methods in the member’s area of the club’s website I was drawn to the idea of covering a section of the wagon in paint, then wiping it off again, (hence slap it on, wipe it off). The advantage of this method is that the paint can run and fill the grooves and cracks of the wagon, therefore, giving a more realistic effect of the built-up of dirty and rusty patches. A second advantage is the fact more than one colour can be applied at the same time to create a blended patchwork through the paintwork, see images.
Once lockdown began to be relaxed, I was able to buy more weathering paints and colours from Topp Trains, where I was advised on the best paints to buy and methods of weathering to use.
I found that using water-based paint made it easier to blend with other paints. It is also easier to make the paint runnier, therefore, being able to make streaks (see above).
Once out of lockdown and back to work, the modelling took a step back, as everyday bar work was back in full swing. However, November 2020 and lockdown 2.0 came along. Furloughed, I picked up the paint pallet once again.
Slowing plodding through mine and my father’s wagon collection, I decided I wanted to try something new. So, back off to Topp Trains, this time to buy weathering powders. Using powders as well as paints, I was able to add different texture marks to the wagons, such as rust, scratches, and runs. This also helped to add different features and detail, so, not all the wagons are uniform, giving a more natural and realistic effect.
In addition, I also tried mixing the powers with white spirits to create a paste, which allowed me to create small shapes and runs down the sides and tops of the wagons. Also, I found that by dropping small amounts of powder on the wagon followed by a small drop of white spirits created a raised texture of rust or dirt to sit on the exterior, once again giving more realism to the wagons.
Just a few photos of my other projects below.
So, there are a few of my lockdown projects. All done (to the shock of many) on the dining room table.
I personally have found that the ‘slapping the paint on and wiping it off again’ approach has worked the best for me, then adding powders once the first layer of paint has dried. This process does not take too long, however, you must work fast with no distractions or you run the risk of the paint setting on the wagon in the wrong place and they will look terrible. Also, this method uses up a lot of paint and can become rather expensive if you have a lot of stock you wish to weather. I hope this gives you some help if you are thinking of weathering yourself. Just make sure you start on something cheap and build up your confidence to do more expensive models. I have not yet plucked up the courage to weather an expensive steam loco yet though. Good luck.