New 2013 -- Painting the Army Boxcar

Painting the Army Boxcar

BVM #18010 Hunkered Down 18' Composite Boxcar

Let's have fun with some acrylic paints!  This time around, we'll do a mish-mash of styles and techniques ... we'll use some impressionistic techniques to lay in the basic colors, then come back with some fine brush work to do some paint chipping.  The impressionistic techniques are very simple and can be used for a variety of projects.  The fine brush work takes a bit of practice and some care in mixing and prepping the paints ...

It's good to see a variety of techniques and theories actually demonstrated on video.  Here are a few of my favorites that I've found helpful:

HOT LEAD / Painting a Better Miniatures:  This is my favorite painting DVD and it has NOTHING to do with model trains!  It focuses on painting figures for war-gaming, mostly in 28mm size which is a bit  smaller than O scale, and IMO does an outstanding job of covering all sorts of interesting techniques using acrylics.  He covers the "basics" from mixing paints, blending colors, using dry-time extenders, glazes, washes and so forth and so on ... then covers a variety of techniques like wet-blending colors, layering colors, using glazes to tie things together, etc, etc.  For me, this made a huge BREAKTHROUGH in my approach to working with acrylics ... but I lent the 3-disc set to a friend whose painting I respect and his response was "meh" ... so, um ... well, there are sample clips on you-tube and I think it's great stuff.  I got mine at FRP Games for a discount ...

AFV Acrylic Techniques by Mig Jimenez:  Mig is one of the "greats" from the military modeling field.  After developing widely-followed techniques using solvent-based materials, he turned to using acrylics for this demo.  IMO, there are some weak spots, like clumsy use of pre-mixed acrylic washes ... BUT ... holy mackerel, there is some amazing stuff.  He covers pre-shading, color modulation and so forth, which is all about PAINTING LIGHT & SHADOW on the miniature (which has a very different effect than just using your room/desk lights to light up the model!) ... and it's truly amazing to watch the finesse with which he freely hand-paints little tiny chips in the paint, etc.  I'll be attempting some of that here ... but, fortunately, there's no video to show my lack of grace!  Various sources, including FRP games.

Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling by Troels Kirk:  Now this one DOES come from the model railroad field ... and On30 to boot!  Troels is a gifted artist who has created The Coast Line On30 model railroad to the delight and amazement of many modelers.  On this disc, Troels talks about PAINTING LIGHT & SHADOW onto the model as well.  He uses a much simpler palette and also much "simpler" approach to achieve his amazing results ... but, er, um ... well, I just don't have the "gift" or finesse or something to do it that easily.  So, if you're like me ... or more like me than Troels, maybe my somewhat more complicated, convoluted approach will help you get there too! 

The idea of painting light & shadow that "isn't really there" is nothing new ... it goes back to the Old Masters, who often did an under-painting using umber tones BEFORE adding color.  The dark areas of the under-painting add depth to the shadows, while the lighter or untouched areas of the under-painting allow the light/highlight areas to "pop."

And, there are other ways we can borrow from painters outside of "the model railroad world" ... the floral dress on this 1/35 figure was painted by "thinking like Monet."  There aren't any actual "flowers" painted on the dress ... just DOTS of color that give the impression of flowers ... with a bit of practice painting dots on paper before drying the dress.  (She needs a bit more shading and shadow, especially noticeable on her arm/hand!)

The step-by-step by follows is "almost live" ... and in many ways, it's more of a description of "what I did" than "what you should do."   I think you'll find a number of ideas here that will be useful .... and there are MANY ways in which the approach can be modified and/or simplified (I'll point out a few) ... so you may want to read ahead before you begin!  

Now, going back to the "under painting" idea ... we're working on a 3-D object rather than a canvas, so we'll start with a flat black or dark gray base coat (like Krylon or Rustoleum spray can primer) ... that will put shadow into all the little recesses and such without  a lot of brush strokes (well, we'll actually go back and enhance some of those) ... and we'll use a sort of dry-brushing technique to put some "light" into the under-painting.  BTW, the base coat looks a bit patchy here, because I painted the interior flooring before gluing the roof on ... then masked off the door to paint the roof ... and used a different paint can to paint the roof ... so you see both dark gray and black, but that shouldn't make much difference.

We'll "wet-drybrush" the wood surfaces using these Vallejo and Reaper (Master Series) paints.  You can use various other acrylics from the craft store, Polly S, etc.  The exact colors don't matter ... just a variety of similar tones will do.  For military colors and inks, I tend to favor Vallejo ... for non-military colors, metallics and flesh tones, definitely Reaper (IMO, the colors tend to be more subdued and more "realistic" or suitable for our railroad models).  Both are available from a variety of sources.  I like Miniature Market, because they carry BOTH brands at a discount and have good service.

Did he say "wet" DRY-brushing?  Huh?  Yup!  It's just like "regular" dry-brushing ... but you use a damp brush and diluted paints.  Dip the brush, wipe out most of the paint on scrap paper and then apply to model.  The advantage is that it builds up more gradually and provides more control.  If you look at the paper above, you'll see that even the darkest tones are actually translucent.  BTW, I love having a ceramic palette for acrylics, especially this one with 12 little wells.  Easy clean-up and I frequently use many or all of the different wells -- great for mixing tiny bits of a lot of different colors.  Search "12 well mini ceramic palette" on the web if you like the idea!


Let that crazy wet dry-brushing begin!  The paints were mixed 3 drops paint to 1 drop wet water.  (Wet water is 90% water + 10% Liquitex Flow-Aid or similar.)  I started with the Splinter Blotches, then the Golden Skin, applying them somewhat randomly in a cross-hatch pattern -- to catch the grain without going up/down.

Finished dry-brushing with the Dirt, Weathered Stone and Golden Shadow ...the amount can be varied to suggest more or less wear, tear and paint chipping ..

Now we'll use some Vallejo inks ... these are great!  They're transparent and mix/blend with all your other acrylic paints ... don't think there's a craft store equivalent, so if you're only going to splurge on a few "special" items, the inks and glaze medium are  a good choice!



The inks were mixed 1 part ink to 3 parts wet-water ... a pretty dilute mix.  Here, I've switched over to one of my "good" fine-tip sable brushes and used the black ink to outline the groove between boards and along the edges of the ribs ... that's been done on the area to the left of the door ... and makes a difference when compared to the area to the right, eh?

Here I've used two more applications of ink:
-- The Vallejo "brown" ink has a very reddish tone to it ... used that to apply a second layer of ink into the groove between boards and along the underside of the diagonal braces.  Then lightly streaked the surface of various boards.
-- Sepia ink (very golden brown tone) streaked across the surfaces of various boards to add a little more color variation.
-- The door is "closer" to the viewer ... and the "foreground" details on the car should get more light ... so the dry-brushing was done to create a brighter effect there, followed by the same inks ...

This is a good place to take a little break ... AND ... not a bad place to stop on the woodwork if you want most/all of the "paint" to have chipped away.  The following steps will show coloration over a substantial portion of the wood siding ... but I ended up going back and "chipping" away more of that paint with additional brush work.  So if you want a fair bit of the faded wood to show through chipped paint, you may wish to read all the way through and consider a somewhat modified approach!

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Copyright (c) 2013 Dallas Mallerich III  -- Individual modelers may save a copy for personal reference; all other rights reserved.



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