Log car, painting tips

"Painting" with Dry Pigments

A great way to achieve weathered wood tones with those versatile dry weathering pigments!

Unlike ordinary chalks, the weathering pigments offered by Bragdon Enterprises and Dr. Ben's contain finely ground pigments PLUS a binder material that adheres the pigments to the model when the pigments are burnished in place with a soft brush.  In addition to using the "dry" pigments for weathering, you can also wet-brush them to achieve the effects that we've shown here ... and use them to create thin washes for an extra touch.  The techniques described are EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE -- you can go back and forth between colors, back-and-forth between wet and dry, etc.  Experiment and have fun!

Getting Started -- First, we assembled the 15' Chunky Little Log Car per the instructions, then we primed both sides with Krylon Flat Gray Primer.  After that was dry, we sprayed both sides with Krylon Flat Black.  The black base coat adds depth and shadow effects to the finished paint job.

[Although Krylon has been a long-time favorite, they've recently began shipping paints with an "EZ Touch 360-degree" nozzle.  This puts out a wide fan of paint that is NOT well-suited to our hobby uses.  So, I've been using Rustoleum automotive primer and spray paints recently with good results.]

Dry Pigments -- We "selected" the Bragdon Enterprises weathering sets because we already had them on hand!  Set FF-60 includes "soot" and three shades of rust.  Set FF-161 includes light brown, dark brown, light gray and dark gray.  These provide all the colors needed for the effects shown.

So, what's the trick?  Simple, the "trick" is knowing that you can apply those same pigments using a wet brush and having just enough confidence to give it a try.  Pour some isopropyl alocohol (rubbing alcohol) into a small medicine cup or spare bottle cap.  Dip a soft brush into the alcohol and ten into the desired pigment color.  At right, we've started to apply the light brown pigment over the black log car.  Dip your brush back into the alcohol and use the wet brush to continue spreading the pigment.  A thin, uneven coat will do just fine!

Start with WET coat -- Here we've applied a wet coat of the light brown pigment over all of the wood-grain surfaces of the log car ... and we didn't worry about splashing the color onto the metal hardware.  Notice that the light brown is applied unevenly, allowing some of the black base coat to show thru in spots.  Keep rotating the model as you apply the light brown to make sure you find all of the wood-grain areas.  Read thru all the steps and you'll see how it comes together!

Then start blending with a DRY coat -- Here we've just started applying some of the darker brown with a dry brush.  As we work the darker brown into place with the soft, dry brush, it will knock off some of the looser light brown pigments and reveal more of the black undercoat as seen here -- giving a nice, worn gray look in those areas.  As you practice, you'll develop a touch for the light "scrubbing" action required to work the colors into place.

Starting to look like weathered wood!  Here's how it looks after we've worked the darker brown over all of the wood-grain areas.  And remember, the methods are very flexible.  If you find a spot that you missed with the wet coat of light brown, you can go back and repeat that step in the desired area and combe back with more dark brown using the dry brush.

Make your own color washes -- You can use your brush to scoop some pigments into a small amout of isopropyl alcohol and mix it up to make a thin color wash.  Here we mixed some black ("soot") and dark brown to give the car a wash and further mix up the coloring.  If you have any doubts, start with a thinner wash -- then repeat that or add more pigment to the wash as desired. 

At right, we've managed to snap a photo as the alcohol-wash was beginning to dry.  This goes rather quickly, so just wait a few minutes before proceeding.  We worked in a few touches of light and dark gray here and there (unevenly placed!) before "painting" the hardware as shown below.

Almost finished --  Here we've used a wet brush to apply black ("soot") pigments to all of the "metal" hardware on the car.  This produces a nice, soft weathered black that goes well with the weathered wood tones.  Use a very fine wet brush to catch those small NBW (nut-bolt-washer) details!

"Normal" use of weathering pigments follows!  Yes, now we're using them in the most traditional way ... applying them with a dry brush for typical "weathering".  Above left, you can see some dark rust just loosely distributed on the metal coupler box.  At right, we've begun working in the dark rust over the various metal surfaces.  A light scrubbing action will blend the colors and fix them in place.  Not quite happy?  You can blend the rust using other shades of rust, black, gray or brown -- try these in different spots and work back and forth between the colors to get the desired effects!

Finish with a black wash -- Mix some black pigment with alcohol and give an overall wash to the finished car.  EASY does it!  If you're not sure, start light then repeat and/or thicken the wash as needed.  After that, you can still go back and add touches of grays, browns or rusts as desired.  These materials really are flexible and fun!

Taking care of details -- The insulators on BVM wheelsets are white nylon.  These don't show up on most cars, but they'll be visible on a skeleton log car.  We "blackened" them with a Sharpee Ultra Fine Point marker before chalking the wheels.  (Do NOT use an electrically-conductive blackening agent like Neo-Lube or you might short out the insulation!)

More "normal" weathering -- We used a dry brush to apply medium and dark rust tones to the wheels and trucks ... then we blended and muted these colors (slightly!) with the soft-black soot color.  Of course, you can go lighter or heavier on the rust as desired!

Final touches -- Finish assembly by installing the trucks and hanger chains, then make up thin black and rust washes to weather chain.

Experiment and have fun!

Techniques are shown on our 15' Chunky Little Log Car ... but they can be used on a variety of our other cars too!

(c) Copyright 2007 and 2009 Dallas Mallerich III.  Individual modelers may save/and or print a copy of this article for their PERSONAL (non-commercial) use only.  Any other use requires written permission.

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