Model Railway Weathering Techniques | Methods

Weathering refers to the process of making a model look as if it has been previously used and exposed to the weather by simulating the natural dirt and wear on the vehicle, this technique can also be applied to buildings and equipment. Most models come out of the box with a “looking new” look, because un-weathered finishes are easier to produce and many collectors want their display models to look in pristine condition.

Weathering techniques and methods

The following is a list of techniques commonly used to weather model railway engines, coaches and other models.

Airbrush

This technique involves spraying thinned paints over a model to produce the effects of surface grime, rust, mud and fading. This is a real favorite technique amongst modelers.

Artist Acrylic Paints

This technique involves using artist acrylic paints, the ones that come in the regular tubes, to simulate rust, grime and other streaks from various commodities. These paints are easy to use and offer unlimited colour potential through blending of colours. These paints typically take 1-2 days to dry to the touch, so there is plenty of time to work on the model. The other plus is that they can be washed off with soap and water.

Pastel Chalks

This technique involves using powdered chalks to colour the model and add various effects. This is probably the most economical, and the most forgiving, since most chalks will wash off with soap and water. A good alternative to airbrushing, chalks don’t hold up well to transportation to shows, unless you fix the powders in place with a coat of matt varnish.

Ink Washes

This technique involves using a wash of thinned ink to simulate weathering. The ink washes work really well on buildings and wooden rolling stock where the stain penetrates the groves between each board, as well as the wood grain and other surface textures. Some modelers use this technique to simulate fuels spills on tank cars and locomotives, as well as shading the insides of coal cars.

Dry Brushing

This technique involves dipping a paintbrush in full strength paint, and then blotting most of the paint off, leaving a “dry brush”. Running the brush over the model will cause the leftover paint to cling to all the high spots on the model, highlighting detail. Use this to highlight engine detail, or things like walkways and ladders etc.

Actual series to follow

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