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Weathering Techniques

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Real trains spend years out in the elements and many show the signs of this long and hard service life. Weathering can take many forms; rust, grime, patched paint, faded letters. 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

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

2. Alcohol Pens

weathering
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Easy to use as a marker, excellent results and completely reversible! These are great for your first weathering project or your latest.

3. Drybrushing

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

4. Realistic Rust Patches

oil paint rust
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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

5. Peeling / Fading Lettering

faded paint rub
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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.

6. Acrylic Wash

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

7. Fading Paint with an Airbrush

CR 21267
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Make a car lok 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.

8. Paint-outs

paint-out decals
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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.

9. Paint Overspray on Boxcar Roofs

completed car
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.

Railroads don't paint the roofs of their boxcars nearly as often as modelers. Paint overspray 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!

10. Weathering Decals

faded decals
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Age your decals prior to putting them on a model to create faded signs and lettering.

11. Distressing Freight Car Sides

finished CR gon
©2011 Ryan C Kunkle, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Use a soldering gun and screwdriver to add some distress to your plastic models.
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