Date: Mon Aug  3, 1998

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Part 15

Part 15 ** Questions on weathering and detail painting. [Q] What is meant by "weathering" and "detail painting" ? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/96) "Weathering" refers to a number of techniques that are intended to make a model appear more realistic by simulating the effects of the elements on the subject. Various techniques exist to simulate dirt, fading, spills, paint wear and tear, rusting, etc. "Detail painting" refers to similar techniques intended to enhance realism by compensating for differences in lighting and viewing between the model and actual subject. For example, models are often lit by cold white overhead flourescent lights - as opposed to the warm, low-angle illumination of (non noon) sunlight. The result is extremely different shadows, contrast, etc, that spoil the illusion the model is trying to create. NOTE: I was disappointed to find that I hadn't saved many of the recent posts on weathering and detail painting. So, I tried to pull the basics out of my somewhat leaky memory in order to put this section together. The following answers attributed to me ( are not exactly "authoritive answers" - I have not tried or mastered all of these techniques - they are intended to point beginers in the right direction and hopefully inspire others to submit better info (hint, hint). Don [Q] What are "washes", and how do you do it? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/96) A "wash" is an application of highly thinned paint (or other pigment) intended to deposit color in the nooks and crannies of a model. Washes are usually (but not always) dark colors, intended to simulate dirt or shadows. One common use for washes is to darken the "holes" in a molded grill or screen. [A] (Martin Waligorski 10/95) I can describe the way I do it on my aircraft kits. Basically, a wash can be made with any sort of paint which has been sufficiently diluted so that the pigment can run freely to all the crevices on the model. I can recommend you to try the following solutions: 1. Ink diluted with water 2. Brush-shaped textile marker pen with the tip dipped in water 3. Coffee or strong tea ( lovely dirty rust washes on matt surfaces ) 4. Just your ordinary oil-based hobby paint, like Humbrol, extra diluted 5. Ditto with alcohol-based hobby paint, like Gunze-Sangyo. Diluted with water or Ajax glass washing liquid (my favourite solvent for Gunze). 6. Artists' oil paints diluted with thinner. 7. Watercolor or acrylic paints diluted with water. Whatever you try, try it first on some piece of painted scrap plastic. Here is some other advice: A wash will adhere differently to gloss and matt surfaces. Sometimes it may be hard to make the wash stay where you want it on a glossy surface. In such case you will need to reapply it as many times as it's needed, or paint the model with matt or semi-matt varnish before you apply the wash. A wash solvent might attack the base paint. For example, if you use alt.6 with a synthetic turpentine it will almost certainly dissolve base paint coat. The same applies to Ajax in alt. 5 which is quite aggresive against a base paint coat. This effect might be desirable (worn paint effect), so don't panic, but for the first time I would recceomend you to use neutral wash solvent like water or a milder oil paint thinner. Alt. 2 is the absolutely easiest and safest to apply, although some people might discuss if you should call it a "wash". Ink, watercolor, acrylics, coffee and some other washes can be simply wiped of while still wet if you should overdo them. You should never attemt to wipe off an aggresive wash - see above. When you mix a wash, use a LOT of thinner and just a LITTLE of paint. The secrent is to find the solvent which will cause the pingmet to go INTO the crevices and stay there. Some solvents make the pigment to run away to the edges of the wash istead of making them stay where they are. Make some experiments to find the best solution. [Q] What is "dry brushing", and how do you do it? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/96) "Dry brushing" is a way to highlight raised details. The basic technique is to dip a brush (ideally with slightly stiff bristles) in paint, then brush most of the paint off onto a piece of paper towel or cardboard until the brush is nearly empty - that is, until no more paint comes off on the paper. Then using this brush, lightly brush/scrub over the raised detail you want to highlight. The sharp edges of the detail engraving will tend to scrape what little paint is left on the brush off, onto the detail. What color you use for this depnds on the effect you're trying to achieve. Dry brushing with silver/aluminum can be used to simulate paint chipped edges, for example around the edges of access panels, hatches, etc, or to highlight bolt/rivet detail. You can use a slightly lighter color than the base color - achieved by adding some amount of white to the base paint - to suggest places where the paint is worn clean by the hands and feet of operators. Or use a slightly darker paint - achieved by adding flat black or brown to the base color, to simulate dirt build up. The above uses of this technique are intended to produce somewhat random results. When you get good at dry brushing, you can also use this technique to paint fine details such as emblems and scripts on cars, or the engraved numbers on dashboard/cockpit instruments. [Q] How do I simulate large surface effects such as fading, dust, etc? [Q] How do you weather with pastel chalk? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/96) There are two basic techniques for weathering large flat surfaces. Both involve applying thin transparent coats of color over the base coat of paint. - The first is to use an airbrush to apply a very light coat of the weathering color, typically a black, gray or earthtone, or a lightened or darkened version of the base color. This takes some practice to get the desired build up. - A variation on this technique is to spray a slightly "dirty" coat of your favorite clear paint over the model. Add a small amount of compatible color paint - about 1 part in 20 or less, again typically a black, gray or brown shade - to the clear. Thin and spray on the areas you want to dull/haze/dirty. The advantage to this technique is that it is hard to put too much color onto the surface. - Pastel chalk dust can be used to produce effects similar to that obtained with washes and airbrushing. In many ways, this technique is easier than airbrushing, although as always there are also drawbacks. In this approach, pastel chalks (not the oil based chalks), again black, grays and/or earthtones, are ground into fine powder by rubbing the chalk against coarse grit sandpaper. The powdered chalk is applied with a paint brush to build up a dirty/dusty layer. The pastel dust will come off if the model is handled at all. The pastel can be sealed in with a top coat of your favorite flat finish clear, but - the clear will greatly reduce the effect of the chalk. If you plan to clear over-coat the chalk, you should greatly exaggerate the colors. NOTE: like most modeling techniques, the above can take some amount of practice and experimenting to get the desired effects. [Q] How do I simulate rusting metal? [A] (GRN BERET 9/95) ... As for the color, It depends upon the age of the rust, so it's up to you. I lke Tamiya's red brown. To simulate rust you can paint it directly on, but that doesn't look quite right. A better method is to paint the rust color first, then paint the body color. while the body color is still wet, wipe or scratch off the paint and the rust will show through. Another method is to let the paint dry, then lightly sand it with fine paper until the rust shows through. This is a very realistic effect. For crusty, crumbling rust, glue baking soda to the rusty area first with super glue, then paint the rust color. For another effect, using oil paint, scratch on some rust marks with the end of a piece of wire or and old knife blade. Use Raw Umber or Burnt Sienna. Now for the cool part: Very lightly feather the paint downward with a wide artists brush. Make sure the brush is completely dry with no thinner or spirits on it. It will look exactly like streaked rust-the kind you see if something has been in the elements for a long time. Hope you find this helpful. Good luck. [Q] How do I darken panel lines? [A] (Don Schmitz 1/96) Many modelers like to darken the engraved lines between panels on their aircraft/autos to make them more visible. There is some debate as to whether you want to do this to an aircraft model. On real aircraft the panels fit very flush and if scaled down would be hardly noticeable. Many aircraft modelers feel that sharp black panel lines give a plane a cartoon-ish look. The general consensus is that panel lines on an aircraft should be just subtly darker than the panels themselves. Autos are a different story - on the real thing there are noticeable gaps around doors, fenders, etc, with large open spaces behind them. Look at a well lit car and you will see distinct black lines around many of the panels (as always, consult the real thing - welded seams should be much more subtle on autos too). Although you would think this is an ideal place to use a wash, you won't get very sharp lines this way. Instead, the weapon of choice is a #0000 disposable technical pen, available at art supply stores in a number of colors. For autos use black, for a softer line, good for planes with bare metal panels, try the same type of pen with a gray ink, or use a drafting lead sharpened to a very fine point. [Q] How do I paint fine details such as emblems and instrument markings? [A] (Don Schmitz 9/96) In addition to the dry brushing technique mentioned previously, there are a few ways to paint very small engraved details. Play around with the following and pick what works best for you: 1. Use a sharpened tooth-pick or straight pin as a very fine brush. 2. Dip a new (not worn down) pencil eraser into the paint, blot off the excess, then push the eraser surface flat-on to the detail. 3. Instead of paint, use a very sharp color pencil. The "Prismacolor" brand, available in craft stores, works very well and comes in a huge range of colors including silver/brass/gold that look fairly good. 4. For chrome trim, use "Bare Metal Foil" (see section 9 of this FAQ for address and phone number).
rec.models.scale FAQ, part 16

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