Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Freight Cars for Calamity - Step by Step Weathering - Wrapping it Up

Up to this point all the previous steps have really just been prep to get to the fun part. Especially in the case of the gondola since I had to cut apart my decals to get them to fit between the stake pockets. The reality is that the weathering process itself doesn't take very long, it gets stretched out trying to take pictures (or remembering to take pictures).

The next step for the gondola is to get some paint on the boards on the interior sides and floor. What I want to do here is show paint worn away by heavy use. The normal load for these gondolas was probably coal since the C&N had its own fleet of drop bottom hoppers for ore. However, I'm sure that they were pressed into service to carry various ores as needed. Boulder County is mostly mined for gold ore and tungsten although there were silver mines as well but none that were actually served by the railroad. I drybrushed some of the upper edges of the outside with a greyish brown paint and gave a heavy coating on the inside, leaving more of the original red in the corners and edges where the sides come together with the floor.

I then followed up with a burnt umber wash made from Liquitex Ink and distilled water. Colorado water is a little on the hard side and I try to keep the minerals out of my paints as much as I can by using distilled water.

Now all of that ink needs to dry before I can start applying pigments to it. Otherwise you can create quite a mess when dry pigment meets wet ink. Its not pretty, but it can be cleaned up when it happens.
With the gondola drying its time to turn to the boxcar. I want to try a different technique on this one involving Isopropyl Alcohol (rubbing alcohol you can get it at the grocery store or your local drugstore. I buy the 99% pure stuff) and dry pigments. I'll create a wash with this and see how that goes. Remember weathering is all about experimenting and thinking outside the lines a bit. Although its probably smarter to try something new on a cheap test car first!

For this one I used MiG pigments, their Cargo Dust and Black Smoke. The Black Smoke is to strong by itself so I tried to lighten up a bit with the Cargo Dust.

To this mixture I added the Isopropyl Alcohol. You want a wash so keep adding till you get something that just rolls right back to the bottom when you swipe your brush against the side. Keep in mind you are using alcohol and it evaporates fast (especially if you are in a high dry climate like mine)! I started on one side and proceeded to work my way around the boxcar.

Still much darker than I anticipated

I loaded up a brush with clean alcohol and proceeded to swab down the sides again. Wiping off the brush every few strokes to get rid of the excess.

That looks better

Roof is a bit uneven at this point but some additional steps latter on will help smooth it out.

In a couple of spots the alcohol started to penetrate the layer of dullcote and wiped away some of the lettering, mostly on the capacity and wt numbers on the left. It actually looks good so I didn't worry about but be aware that this can happen and go slowly least you wipe away all your decal or dry transfer work.
The problem with this particular technique is I really lost the faded look that I had started with. Maybe a thinner more directed wash would have helped maintain that effect or the two techniques just shouldn't be used on the same car. This also has to dry but you can come back with more alcohol later and continue to clean it up if you feel the need to. This is one way to set pigments, the resulting finish won't rub off without some serious effort.

Now its time to apply some straight up dry pigments. I'm using my Pan Pastels along with one another one from MiG (because, once again I put my Bragdon pigments in a safe place). While the best way to apply MiG pigments is still with a brush the best way to apply the Pan Pastels is with a very sponge. When I bought my set from Stoney Creek he included a couple of handles and variety of sponges to fit on the ends along with a couple of the big sponges for large areas. While you can brush the Pan Pastels on I have found that the sponges are definitely more effective. I was quite happy to find the Caboose Hobbies had a full kit of the brushes for the handles so I have a bunch. They come in different shapes so you can adjust to the surface you are working on.

Much like painting I like to start with the darkest pigment at the bottom edges of the car in this case I decided to use Burnt Sienna Extra Dark. On the gondola I kept it on the bottom frame, on the boxcar I went up a little bit on the sides (and its not easy to see in the pictures).

This really doesn't take very long and you don't have to wait for it to set so you can go straight to the next pigment. Next up was straight Raw Umber. I applied it starting at the top edge of the previous color to soften that line a bit and took it up a bit higher on the side.

The last application was with a brush using the MiG Pigment Gulf War Sand, which is a nice dusty color

Now the roof of the boxcar needs a little attention. It needs a lighter layer of soot which should even out the surface a bit. For this I'm using Neutral Grey Extra Dark.

Its really hard to see in the photos but I followed all of this up with a Burnt Sienna Prismacolor pencil run across the top of all the metal components to rust them up a bit. And that about wraps it up. I put the trucks back on and these are ready to hit the rails.

The gondola could probably use a bit more work, there is a lot of grain visible in the side boards and I really didn't bring them out very well and I'm not completely happy with the interior drybrushing or the final coat of dust on the outside. On the other hand sometimes they just have to look good enough and this one definitely falls into that category.

I'm quite pleased with the boxcar although I'm disappointed that my grimy wash really killed the faded look I wanted. I'm not going to go back and do anything about it but I will keep it in mind for future projects and there are certainly a number of those coming up. 

I'm happy enough with my custom decals that I'll go ahead and bring out the passenger cars and get started on those which should be a pretty quick job. I'm still working on trying to perfect the Switzerland Trail of America logo for the C&N boxcars though. The C&N boxcars are going to get a little extra work as well. I thought that the ladder on the right side was molded on it looked like to much work to just try and shave off. However, I discovered that its actually a separate piece and can be pulled off without to much effort. I have some new grab irons ordered and I'll be installing those on C&N boxcars as the next step there.

So more work on those and of course there is a railroad station to get finished up as well. September should be another productive month as I continue work on the different parts of Calamity.


  1. Thanks Kris, I enjoy these weathering tutorials. I did manage to pick up a few Pan pastels, and sponge brushes, from Aaron Bros. Need to see if I can fix the weathering on my V-8 interceptor.

    1. That sounds like a fun project! The last of the V-8 Interceptors! Did they ever make a specific kit for that or did you modify and Nova SS?

    2. This one is just a 1/72 two part resin with some metal stowage and the blower. It's made by Aberrant, part of their Warlands range. Not complex or super detailed but captures the feeling. I went ahead and mounted the giant gun thing on the hood, because who doesn't want a 20mm canon on their car.

    3. Interesting, I have a Nova stashed somewhere to kitbash it in a larger scale. I might look into this one though if they still make it.

  2. Very nice work Kris. How do you seal it up to keep the pigment on? I weathered a tank once this way (one of the rare times I actually "finished" something) and when I sealed it the pigments got darker which sort of damaged the look, but if I did not seal it then the pigments would come off...

    1. It depends a lot on what you are using in conjunction with your pigments. Regular pigments applied dry (not Pan Pastels) tend to even just disappear completely when you seal it, I haven't seen it ever go darker, but you are right if you don't seal them in some way they will just get rubbed off.
      Pigments applied with the Isopropyl alcohol don't need to be sealed and while they can be rubbed off its pretty difficult but if you do seal them they will be permanent short of stripping them off.
      Both MiG and AK sell something called "Fixer". You can combine Fixer and pigments like paint by mixing them or you can do your regular dusting and then apply the Fixer afterwards. I don't know exactly what it is but it will keep them permanently in place once its dried. Sometimes it dries shiny so you need to apply the dullcote to kill the shine.
      The Pan Pastels (as so the Bragdon Powders) that help them adhere a lot better so they don't need to be sealed either, but I'll find out how much handling they can take. I might seal one of the gondolas just to see if they disappear. I have a new one that's going to need work anyway!