Weather Model Buildings Easily For Your Railroad

Published: 26th September 2011
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Some of the crown jewels of your model railroad will be the buildings you use in your layouts. Whether you are looking to construct something out of the Wild West, an HO scale subway system, or something else entirely, the buildings you choose will help tell your story and make your diorama really special and unique.

Weathering model buildings can be achieved using inks, washes, and even air brushes. But I like to weather model buildings using a super simple method using nothing more than pastel chalk. Pastel chalk can run anywhere from around $10 to $30. I like to pick mine up at Michealís or AC Moore and I use the flyers that come in the Sunday paper to get 40% off. If you have a local crafts supply store, ask about when they run their sales or if they will accept coupons from other stores as many will.

What colors will I choose? With weathering buildings and structures for model railroads, art imitates life. Before I weathered my model buildings, I spent a lot of time looking at pictures right on the internet and also when I walked on Bleeker Street. Note: my HO scale subway is modeled after the NYC Bleeker Street Station.

The effects of the elements cause changes to brick-face, copper, wood, and all building materials. For my weathering trick, I choose the colors I will use. Brown, black, grey and white are common, and unexpected colors appear in real life if you look closely. Rust can appear anywhere on the red- orange spectrum, and weathered copper is a beautiful turquoise blue.

After I have chosen my colors, I use a razor blade to scrape the chalk and make little piles of chalk powder. Keep the piles separate on brown butcher paper. Taking a dry brush, I dab the powder and shake off the excess. Then I dry brush the side of the building. Note- the building has already been sanded and primed.

Once I have a fine dusting of chalk powder where I like it, I rub it in gently with my finger. This sets the chalk and gives a really nice smoothing effect. Make sure your rubbing finger is clean and dry before you start!

It is importation to start with the dark colors and add additional lighter colors in layers. Remember to work in small areas and add slight variations in your color scheme to make the model building look more realistic.

Once you are satisfied with the look you have achieved, you can apply a thin coat of clear semi-gloss lacquer from a spray can.

Weathering model buildings takes some practice. If you are just getting started, I suggest you practice on pieces of scrap plastic you have after assembling the building. Or you can practice on an inside wall prior to assembling the building itself. I have found the dry pastel chalk weathering method to be one of the easiest and it really does give an authentic and realistic look to buildings for your model railway trains and layouts.

Do you want to enhance your model railroad skills in the least amount of time? You can build the model railroad of your dreams just like I did!

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