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Drybrushing Weathering Technique


Rust spots

Acrylic paints applied in light, drybrushed stippling strokes create rust patches on the roof of this covered hopper. Varying paint colors and adding chalks completes the effect one little layer at a time.

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Model railroaders often use the term "drybrushing" to describe one method of weathering model trains. By drybrushing, only a very small amount of paint is applied to the model to simulate thin and light streaks of rust, grime or other signs of age and use. This allows you to build the effect gradually and in layers and avoid thick blobs or smears.
Difficulty: Easy
Time Required: 5 to 15 minutes per car

Here's How:

  1. Apply a tiny amount of paint to the tip of a brush. You can use any size brush, depending on the area you need to cover and the effect you want to achieve. The paint does not need to be thinned.
  2. Wipe off as much of the paint as possible on a clean, dry paper towel. Use a white paper towel for any color paint other than white to monitor how much paint is gone.
  3. When you can wipe the brush on the towel with moderate pressure and no color comes off, begin applying paint to the model.
  4. Begin with light pressure and increase until you get the desired results. For rust streaks and grime, paint in a vertical pattern.
  5. When the brush is clean, repeat as necessary until the car is complete.


  1. Less is more. This technique works on the principle that it is easier to add paint than remove it. If you wipe off too much, simply reload and try again.
  2. Vary colors. Use a mixture of browns and oranges to create a layered effect of old and new rust.
  3. Clean the brush completely when finished.

What You Need

  • Paints
  • Brushes - assorted sizes
  • Paper towels
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