IMPORTANT: The model buildings featured on this site are all
available by instant download and because they are photograpic in style and closely resemble real
life structures, they don't require additioal weathering or detailing. Simply download, print, and
build them. This article is designed to assist those people using different construction
How To Add Realism to Model Railway Building Kits and Trains Using Weathering
Chalks, Powders, and Washes
Nothing looks more unreal on a railroad layout
than newly assembled plastic model train kits or trains that look like they have just arrived from
the factory or shop in brand spanking new condition. Although in the real world you do sometimes
see gleaming new structures or vehicles, they are usually the exception rather than the rule.
Something that is too shiny or too clean will usually standout like a sore thumb on a layout
whether it's an item of rolling stock or a plastic building kit. If it looks unreal it can be very
distracting for the eye, and can spoil the whole scene.
If anything, it is usually best to make things
a little dirtier than they might actually be in real life, without overdoing it. Too much
weathering can also look out of place, so there is a fine balance to achieve the most realistic
|It is important
to note that the downloadable railway building kits featured on this website are
all pre-weathered to just the right level, so you won't need to worry about doing
it youself (unless you want to add additional effects). They closely resemble
photographs of the real thing, so when the downloadable plans are printed on paper
and glued to card, they look like real scale miniatures of real life
Downloadable warehouse buildings
f you are not using the model train kits from
this website, then here are some tips for you.
Weathering plastic railway building kits with chalks
With weathering chalks, in particular, it is
very easy to just wipe (or wash) the model down and begin again if you don’t like what you’ve
completed. As always, testing your techniques on a discarded or unused plastic model of some kind
(or just a piece of scrap plastic or wood) is an excellent way to get the weathering look you are
trying to achieve.
The important first rule of technique is, ‘No
bright colors’. Rule number two is, ‘Glossy is bad’. Here’s how to follow those
Three basic weathering techniques are used on
railroad scenery, structures, and rolling stock. They are chalk weathering, using washes, and
airbrushing. This article will discuss the first two.
1. Artists’ chalk
comes in a massive selection of colors.
A good craft, hobby, or artist
supply store should have a good range for you to choose from in several colors, and
for just a few dollars. One suggestion is to buy some pastels including gray,
browns, and blacks used for silhouettes and monochrome line drawings. The chalks
and pastels come in short sticks which are easy to work with and store. Some artist
supply shops also sell model weathering powders which are popular with many
Weathering powders are different to chalks in that they are
typically manufactured from ‘real’ rust and some other weathering agents. The
powders can be 100 times finer than chalk. They can be blended with adhesives to
make them stick on to almost any surface.
One company that supplies them is
http://bragdonent.comIn their internet catalog they also include a range of
other scenic kits and accessories including some rock faces and a selection of stone walls.
Just so you know; I don’t actually have any commercial association with the Bragdonent
Weathering chalks can be applied to surfaces of model train buildings
as a powder. This involves scraping the chalk over the edge of a craft knife blade onto a piece of
paper. Some hobbyists choose to make extra and then store it in a small jar or plastic container
for future use. However, it doesn’t actually take very much time to make the powder to weather the
project you are working on currently. You might even choose to make several small containers of
varying colors at the same time for creating different effects.
Modelers sometimes prefer to spray the item
being weathered with a thin coat of Testor’s Dullcote so as to prepare the surface. Others will
just begin with the chalk. Regardless of the method; apply the chalk using a fine tipped dry brush.
This will give you maximum control.
A close up look at any object will reveal that dirt and grime tends
to hide in little nooks and crannies, so this is where you begin. Paint the chalks in and around
joints or seams on the model. Finding a color photograph of the object on the Internet can be
helpful as you can then follow the weathering pattern as seen on the real thing. At the end of the
day there is no right or wrong way of weathering using chalks, because you can always wipe it off
and begin all over again.
The trick is to gradually build
up the layers applying more colors and layers as you progress to achieve the right
effect. At some point (usually early in the process), you may want to add a base
coat of a rust or dirt color to darken the whole object.
When you become satisfied with the effect, you can then finish it
off with a coat of Testor’s Dullcote to set the chalk. Leave it to dry. Then, if
you wish, you can add more coloring. Just ensure you set that final chalk
application with Dullcote to keep the object from
2. If you hear the term ‘washes’ it
generally refers thinned paints.
Polyscale and Floquil are two specialist model
paint manufacturers to watch out for. Both paints come in descriptive colors used for weathering,
such as Grimy Black, Rust, Dust, and Mud. Some modelers like to use a nice black wash in several
areas of their layout. This can be achieved using a mixture of alcohol and India ink. This
combination can be useful with modeling scenery as well as weathering. Fact is; using washes is a
staple of most scenery coloring. Nature is subtle; washes do subtle extremely
The techniques for paint weathering is similar
to those used in chalk weathering, however be aware that washes will tend to run. This is not
necessarily a terrible thing as water weathering of objects causes that exact effect. Another
advantage of the wash technique is that you can do some great detail work. Rolling stock trucks can
be more easily weathered with paints than with chalks. In some instances, full strength paint (or a
very thick wash) is a better technique than using chalks and Dullcote.
Another painting or weathering technique is
dry-brushing and this too can be used to great effect. Dry brushing involves using a stiff brush
and wiping most of the paint off on a paper towel to make light vertical or horizontal streaks on
the object. By using only a small amount of paint the effect is very subtle. This dry brush
technique is perfect if you want light highlights on terrain or your rock faces when constructing
your model railway building kits or scenery.
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