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Weathering Techniques

Many trains spend years out in the elements, are subjected to harsh weather conditions and even abuse- almost all real trains show signs of aging. Using simple weathering techniques you too can achieve realistic results, representing the long and hard service life of your model empire.

Weathering can take many forms including rust, grime, patched paint, faded letters to name just a few.

There are almost as many ways to recreate the ravages of time and nature. Weathering can be intimidating, but it is not impossible. With practice, you’ll be adding years to your roster in no time.

The techniques described here can be used individually or combined to create an endless variety of weathering patterns.

1.  Weathering With Chalks

This simple technique is great for beginners as the entire process can be easily reversed with a wet cloth.





Read this Article on how you too can apply these techniques


2.  Alcohol Pens

Easy to use as a marker, excellent results and completely reversible!

These are great for your first weathering project, or even to touch up your old weathering projects.

After blending the colours and spots, the final results are as convincing as they are easy.

Read this Article on how to use Alcohol Pens for great weathering effects

3.  Dry brushing

This simple technique uses a minimal amount of paint to create realistic streaks and scratches.













Chalk sticks rubbed directly on car sides can help create rust spots and streaks

Read this Article on Dry brushing weathering techniques


4.  Realistic Rust Patches

Use oil paints and makeup sponges – yes makeup sponges – to create amazingly real rust spots.

Realistic rust patches are made by dabbing oil paints on a model with makeup sponges.
This first coat represents newer, lighter rust

Read this Article on creating realistic Rust Patches – another technique

5.  Peeling / Fading Lettering

Create the look of peeling lettering with a little decal setting solution and an eraser. With a little more time and rubbing, you can remove the lettering all together.

Gentle pressure with a clean eraser will remove a portion of the lettering. With practice you can duplicate a specific prototype pattern

Read this Article on creating “Peeling” and “fading” lettering


6.  Acrylic Wash

A simple watercolor wash can tone down the paint and make the details pop.

When nearly dry, the wash is wiped off the car with a paper towel.

The finished wash highlights details and provides an overall tone to the car

By using a weathering wash, your models can immediately get that “aged” look – no more shiny plastic!

Read this Article on applying a weathering wash to great effect


7.  Fading Paint with an Airbrush

Make a car look like it’s been out in the sun for a few years. This basic airbrush technique is an easy introduction to weathering with this important tool.

The reporting marks, road number and weight data are all applied with separate decals.


This model features a double-paint-out with its third owner simply patching over the reporting marks. 

Here’s and Article on how to use an airbrush to get a “faded” look

8.  Paint-outs

Railroads often paint-out certain sections of a car as opposed to repainting the entire thing.
These patches may be the result of new owners, maintenance, or just to counter excessive weathering.











Every car you do will be unique.

Article on how to do a “paint-out”

9.  Paint Over-spray on Boxcar Roofs

Railroads don’t paint the roofs of their boxcars nearly as often as modelers.

Paint over spray from the sides is often seen around the edges however.



Since we spend so much time looking at the roofs of our cars, simple enhancements like this can add a lot to a boxcar fleet. Once you’ve learned this simple masking trick, you’ll probably think of more uses of it too!
Here’s an Article on paint over-praying to get you started

10.  Weathering Decals

Age your decals prior to putting them on a model to create faded signs and lettering.

Dented and bulging sides are just one part of the overall look on this gondola. The car was finished with oil paints, acrylics and chalks to represent a very well-used car.

Read this Article on how to weather decals for a more realistic look

The faded decals are applied to the walls and carefully worked into the contours of the siding.
This makes them appear to have been painted on the walls and weathered over the years.

11.  Distressing Freight Car Sides

Use a soldering gun and screwdriver to add some distress to your models.












Dented and bulging sides are just one part of the overall look on this gondola. The car was finished with oil paints, acrylics and chalks to represent a very well-used car.

Read this Article on how to dent and Distress your models

Warning – this is an easy but advanced technique – non – reversible!


In conclusion:

Proper weathering doesn’t obscure details, it enhances them. An airbrush is the easiest way to reproduce the often-subtle weathering effects found on the prototype.







Original Article credit:  Ryan Kunkle

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