Tonight we have the second very special blog post brought to you by Edward Farms. Edward has a fantastic website that I urge all Locoyard Followers to check out ! If you missed it previously, you can catch up with part 1 of this series by clicking here. I will now leave you in Edward’s very capable hands, with the second excellent blog post on the art of weathering…
Weathering Blog 2 – Equipment and Materials
Above – My tool kit. Apart from my compressor and big bottle of white spirits, everything I need is in this box. Handy if I need to travel with it as I can carry everything in one go.
Hello and welcome to part 2 of the weathering blog series, we have looked at my story (click here for part 1 of this series) and now I am going to talk you through some of the equipment I use. Please note all opinions expressed in the following blog are my own and whilst I might recommend a certain brand of paint or equipment that does not mean your own choice is wrong, this is more to help those looking to start find some products that might be suitable and discover their own favourites.
I will however touch on what to look for when buying each part of your tool-kit to help you decide which product is right for you.
Above: Not only did my brush come with a hose, it came in this nice box to protect it.
As touched on in the last blog I own an AB-130 Airbrush which I paid £20 on eBay for – it was brand new when I got it and it came with a free hose so it was bargain. Whilst I am sure I could obtain better results if I spent more on a top of the range airbrush for now I feel this one will serve me well – as long as I keep it clean!
When looking for an Airbrush I cannot recommend a “double action” Airbrush enough, this will no doubt have some of you puzzling as to what I mean. Put it simply an Airbrush uses air to move the paint from the brush to the object, this can either be a single action where the air and paint flow are linked or double action where the air flow and paint are regulated independently. By having a double action airbrush you can achieve a more varied change in the finish than you could with a single action airbrush without having to stop and make adjustments to your brush, you simply increase or decrease the air and/or paint to suit your needs.
Above: This will hopefully show the double action system in operation. Press the trigger down starts the airflow and pull it back draws the paint out of the cup. You can have as much or as little of each as you need, unlike me in these pics where I was on max to show the idea better.
Ok, you have your air brush but now you need to be able to power it, there are 2 methods open to you here cans or air or a compressor. Can’s of air are not a good way to go for weathering – the pressure will reduce as the can empties causing the paint to splutter and lose you time (and money) changing the can over – not to mention the wastage. A compressor will give you a constant supply of air whenever you need it and as long as you have electricity available will never run out.
Above: My compressor, still working after 10 years or so. Never let me down so I don’t intend to replace it just yet.
I have only had one compressor which has lasted me 10years already – although it has not seen much use in the first 8 of those. I got it to power a cheap airbrush used for scenic painting which it did well and it provides enough pressure to help me weathering. I did plan on getting a new one when I got a new airbrush but I decided at first to experiment with my current one to get me started and it worked so I stuck with it and probably will until it gives up the ghost.
Given its age I am not surprised to find it unavailable now (weather one if any of you want to try and find one but I couldn’t), however a quick look online shows compressors are still available some as cheap as £50 and to me they all the same job so see what you can find for a reasonable price. Plenty of craft shops should sell them, you won’t need the biggest one in the shop, just something small and simple that can supply approx 30psi will suffice.
One of the most difficult choices is what paint to use, you could go for use Humbrol Enamel, Humbrol Acrylic, Revell, Railmatch or Phoenix Precision Paints. We have all probably worked with Humbrol Enamel on Airfix kits in the past so you have a start here on knowing what that is like to work with. The choice is down again to personal preference, all paints should spray well once suitable thinned so you just need to find what you like and the colours they do that suit.
Predominantly I use Humbrol Enamel’s, mainly no; 33 Matt Black, 34 Matt White, 62 Leather, 85 Satin Black and 27004 Metalcote Gunmetal to create weathering. However I also use 27001 Aluminium, 27002 Polished Aluminium and 27003 Polished Steel to show batches of bare metal under paint that has flaked off, I also have some Railmatch paints which I need to try out – one I have tried is 2415 Oily Steel which looks good on steam engine motion parts.
If you use Humbrol or Revell Paints you will need to mix them together to get the required colour, but you can make them lighter or darker to create subtle differences in your work. Phoenix and Railmatch paints won’t need mixing to create the shades but it makes sense to lighten or darken them to again create subtle variations of the shades.
Whatever paint you use, you will need to thin it down so it does not clog your airbrush, some people will be thinners to match the paint the use which can cost the equivalent of £15 litre (and you thought petrol was expensive!!) however, you can instead use ordinary white spirit from an DIY store which costs £8 for a 4 litre. You don’t need to go for big name brands, the shops own budget stuff will do the job just as well.
The white sprits is also useful tool for cleaning the airbrush at the end of each session (VERY important!!!) so it is certainly worth having. I keep 2 bottles to hand, a big 4 litre of clean white spirit for washing out the brush and some used white sprits which comes in handy for thinning paint.
Above: This is an unopened pack of DCC Concepts powders “shades of grey” each pack contains 4 pots, a brush, Q-Tips and Cotton Buds so you have everything you need to get started.
Some people will say paints are best, some will say powders give the best results. Personally I think the 2 combined is the best way forward, paint is great for large areas but the powders can really help seal the deal as it were. I have tried a couple of makes of powders but the one’s I really like are DCC Concepts powders, they come in a pack of 4 pots each with a different colour or shade in along with some cotton buds and a small brush to work on the powders with. Most model shops will stock these so they are not a problem getting hold of and the range is vast from white to dark red’s and blacks – every colour you would need to dirty up a model. Airfix have recently launched their own set of powders which are getting good reviews in the model press so I would like to give these a try at some point.
Above: The inside of a Hornby Sealion Ballast Wagon done with powders. A mixture of dry and rich rust along with some clay & earth and some different Grey’s achieved this effect. I will try and do a blog one day showing how it was achieved.
For some people the ideal work place is their garage or shed in the warm and dry utilising a spraybooth, others who don’t use an airbrush might get away with working on the dining table (if their better half does not see!) but for me the best place is outdoors.
I bought my first house last year and with it came a massive south-west facing garden, this offers me ample space, light and warmth (as long as the sun is out) to work on an old plastic table. Ok this may not be ideal as it means it is now 3-4 months since I last did any weathering but the light is free and it stops you making a mess of the house. If I had somewhere I could set up a spraybooth and not have any problems I probably would get one to do some smaller finer touches in and leave the bigger stages till the warmer nights.
There is nothing worse than having to handle a freshly painted model and ruin your handiwork when you want to turn it round. You can buy a turntable from places you would buy an airbrush from for about £5, but these seem to be up to 25cm in diameter, which I think can be a bit short for some models. I bought a lazy Susan from IKEA for a few pence more and this was 39cm diameter so perfect for larger models. All I did was nail a piece of track to it and it does the job perfectly. Don’t buy good track for fixing to the table as it will get covered in paint and not be useable after a few sessions, I just picked an old piece of track out of the spares box for the job and cut it to length.
Although the idea of weathering is to put paint onto a model, sometimes there are places you don’t want paint to go but not total avoidance, this is where you make up masking cards. A good example of this is for paint on the running plate but only partial smattering on the boiler. This is a good use for old business cards (in my job I get plenty of people give me theirs so they find a way into my tool box), train tickets or any other types of card.
They can be used to create particular shapes such as straight line streaking on boilers or cover up windows etc. so they remain clean whilst weathering.
Whilst you won’t use it much whilst working it is a valuable tool away from the work station. Once you start weathering, the way you look at a photograph or engine will change. You will start to notice bits of dirt on locos you previously thought of as clean; you will also see patters emerge such as what colours appear where and which are the dirtiest parts. There are plenty of colour photos of engines from the 1950’s onwards to give you an idea of what affects would occur on any engine but it would be even better to get nice close up shots of all the intricate shades and patters that appear.
This is where your camera comes in, when you are visiting either a preserved railway or out on the main network, take a look around you and see what you can find. There will be plenty of engines looking a bit grimy at the end of a busy gala weekend when the cleaners have not had time to tackle all the engines and the days work has taken its toll. Take as many pics as you can these can prove invaluable when planning your next session.
That is all the equipment you should need covered. Next time I will look at some hints & tips I have learnt that should help you all out.
Part 3 of this series can be found by clicking here. Don’t forget to check out Edward’s fantastic website! I’m sure you’ll agree that this is a brilliant blog post entry. Many thanks to Edward for taking such time and effort to write this. If you wish to publish a blog post of your own, please contact locoyard here.