A brief interlude into weathering with acrylics ....

Discussion in 'Workbenches, including workshop techniques.' started by 3 LINK, 25 March 2020.

  1. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    Hi chaps,
    As the heading says, “ brief “ as my usual poison is enamel paint when it comes to weathering. So I brought some of this “ Rust it “ from Squires to see if it was any good.


    To be honest I was not impressed at all, I could not get the pigment to really flow into all the nooks and crannies, of which there are many on these particular type of wagon.


    I then tried the " dark rust " to see if that would tone down the light rust which to me looked more like Heinz tomato soup !


    Horrendous! The paint pigment was much too thick in my opinion, so I went to work with a glass fibre brush to virtually scratch most of the " soup " off.... There was nothing for it, so out came the air brush and I thought I'd try some acrylic paint through the air brush. I like to think that I rescued what was turning out to be a pigs ear. I cannot master acrylics when using paint brushes, but I'm quite impressed when applied through an airbrush.



    Above is how I make my detachable loads using a couple of Brillo pads, card and some real crushed coal. I managed to weather 4 of these wagons today, so I'm fairly happy with the outcome, eventually.

    I will let the paint harden over night and then I will finish off with some weathering powders tomorrow.


  2. BrushType4

    BrushType4 Western Thunderer

    Looks good. I make rust by putting wire wool in white vinegar.
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  3. LarryG

    LarryG Western Thunderer

    I think you've got it there Martyn. Enamels and masses of white Spirit are my bag plus a couple of weathering powders.
    3 LINK likes this.
  4. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    Hi Phil,
    do you just apply it like paint, surely being vinegar it would be a bit watery?


    Hi Larry,
    yes it was a lesson learned, I am far more comfortable using good old enamels. I'm just relieved I managed to turn the wagons around into something I am fairly happy with, or will be with some weathering powders applied tomorrow.

  5. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    I think many of us have years of “wet enamel” under our belts, but I’d very much like to learn how to do stuff with acrylics. The war game / military modellers seem to use them lots, I’m sure we can get good results too.

    just need to work out how...

    3 LINK likes this.
  6. michl080

    michl080 Western Thunderer

    I am using a lot of acrylics for weathering, having the brush in one hand and a wet cotton bud in the other one. For me, the trick is to remove the wet paint immediately after applying it. This effect is about the same as white spirit with enamels. The only problem is the speed of drying and the fact that you cannot dissolve it after it is dry. Your final result looks great, btw. :)

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  7. DougT

    DougT Western Thunderer

    I feel your pain - I still recall the ‘mustard explosion’ look I achieved from an attempt to weather a sand wagon... but I have to say you’ve done a super job of rescuing those hoppers. They look great.

    For what it’s worth, when i’m weathering wagons I tend to thin the acrylics with water and not thinners. This allows the ‘dirt’ to be applied to the body side without affecting the underlying paint, and you can add paint or water to the mix on the body side as required to move the paint or blend in other shades. If you’ve overdone it or want to remove some of the dirt then once dry you can use an earbud soaked in thinners to clean it, or if still wet just wipe with a damp cloth/kitchen roll. I’ve found that virtually all acrylic paints are too thick to use neat (revell being the worst by a long way) and that if you use a paint/thinner mix it tends to affects the underlying paint. Best acrylics in my opinion are the military colours from Tamiya.

    Here are some recent(ish) examples all using the watered paint technique;
    Inside the wagon - using water has allowed me to blend together three or four browns, plus some grey, to work stain the interior and also to wash dirt over the external planking.

    Pipe wagon - this is acrylics over Railmatch enamel bauxite. The worn wood effect is acrylic gunmetal with a blob of water white over the top allowed to partially dry then wiped with a wet earbud.


    The 16t mineral is wet brushed black and grey (with black powder applied when dry and then matt varnished), with heavy removal of the weathered coat with thinners. Using a watered paint allows it to flow into corners and down edges without ‘sticking’ as it would as the thinners evaporates from a thinner mixture.
  8. 3 LINK

    3 LINK Western Thunderer

    Cheers , Michael and Doug,

    Thanks for the input, I will give the acrylics another go after reading your helpful advice. I think the main problem I encountered was the fact that the hoppers are not very easy to paint with a brush, what with all the structural iron work, and the fact that I weathered four of them in one go was quite laborious.

    I have a couple of mineral wagons in the queue, so I will give them a go.

    All the best,

    simond and michl080 like this.
  9. Pencarrow

    Pencarrow Western Thunderer

    After work today I'll post some of my own tips on how to work with acrylics. My first impressions were also poor but once you learn to use different techniques they are great. Much prefer to the old oil based paints.
  10. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    Must admit I'm in the 'enamel school' for weathering although I do use acrylics occasionally for mild rust, oil and limescale staining but very little paint dry brushed.

    3 LINK likes this.
  11. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    I used dry brushed acrylics for the staining effects on the shop built for Love Lane.


  12. spikey faz

    spikey faz Western Thunderer

    Is the increasing use of acrylic paint an attempt to get us all to move away from using enamel paint? I'm assuming that acrylic is less harmful if it's accidentally inhaled?
    I've not used acrylic paint at all but I get the impression it is not as user friendly as enamel paint. Happy to be proved wrong though. :)

  13. eastsidepilot

    eastsidepilot Western Thunderer

    Can't imagine it would be any kinder if you inhaled it,.....but if you smoked it :eek:
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  14. simond

    simond Western Thunderer

    Well, it’s water soluble, so spraying in the house is going to be less hazardous.
    And it doesn’t smell!
    Water’s cheap.
    Inhaling atomised paint is probably not a great idea, particularly at the moment, though you never know; “Miracle cure” you read it here first! (Fake News!)
    It dries really quickly, very nice for figure painting.
    Lots of colours available. Lots of makes. They’re all in the same bottles. Probably all come from the same factory, cynic I am.

    I’m not sure about it being “not user friendly”. It’s certainly not the same as enamels, with which most of us have years of familiarity, but that doesn’t meant it’s more difficult. I remember Bob Newhart’s sketch about Queen Elizabeth asking Walter Raleigh about tobacco...

    I just kind-of think it might offer some advantages that the military types seem to enjoy, and I’m keen to learn.

    I have found that the Vallejo spray thinners will dissolve paint that has partially set, so it can work a bit like enamel & turps sub, but I’m not sure it’s the best approach, and I need to order more thinners!

    Last edited: 26 March 2020
    3 LINK likes this.
  15. LarryG

    LarryG Western Thunderer

    I started using acrylics from the USA in the early 1990's in place of Floquil. It was mixed to match LNER loco green (and other colours) and I used it on wheels instead of card-masking and spraying them. They were quality acrylics. Today I use acrylics for coach seats, floors and other parts where I need something that can be used indoors without stinking the whole house out. Each to their own of course and I certainly would not pee on someone else's course of action.
    DrIain, simond and 3 LINK like this.
  16. Yorkshire Dave

    Yorkshire Dave Western Thunderer

    As Larry has mentioned we have our own preferences whether enamels, acrylics or oil paints.

    Ever since joining a local wargaming club over 15 years ago I now exclusively use Vallejo and AK Interactive acrylics and it did take me a few months to alter my technique to suit.

    As other correspondents have said it is a different technique to enamels. I thin my acrylics with water and to improve flow into corners I add a brushful of white vinegar (acetic acid) or Microscale Microset to the water. Before applying washes to factory finished locos and rolling stock I find it best to prime the model with either a coat of matt or satin varnish to provide a key. If I make an error I wipe off as much as I can with a damp rag or brush and start again. It's also not unknown for me to try and disguise the error.

    If you are intending to persevere with acrylics I would suggest making a 'wet' palette from a tupperware box with a few layers of soaked kitchen towel in the bottom and piece of greaseproof paper on top. This type of palette prevents the acrylic paint drying too quickly and mine here in use during figure painting. Added to which you can close the lid and reuse the following day.

    Wet palette.jpg

    I use acrylics for locos, rolling stock, vehicles, figures and buildings..... whether by brush painting, airbrushing, dry brushing and washes.

    Acrylic 1.jpg Acrylic 2.jpg Acrylic 3.jpg Acrylic 4.jpg Acrylic 6.jpg Acrylic 7.jpg
    Acrylic 5.jpg
  17. michl080

    michl080 Western Thunderer

    I need to check out the idea with the Tupperbox. Brilliant!!

  18. Alan

    Alan Western Thunderer

    I've always used acrylics. I do like the idea of of the wet box.
  19. Pencarrow

    Pencarrow Western Thunderer

    DIY wet palette...

    1. container with tight fitting lid. I've used a Chinese takeaway container.
    2. A thin bit of open cell foam. I used a thin slice off a bath foam sponge about 10mm thick, or you could use one of those thick foam cleaning cloths.
    3. Greaseproof paper. Cut to the same size as the foam.
    4. Water. Taken from the tap, enough to soak the sponge and dampen the greaseproof paper from below.

    A shot of mine in use:


    Put dollops of paint on the damp (not wet) greaseproof paper. Mix to suit, perhaps add a drop of water to thin, and apply to model. When finished put lid on Chinese takeaway tray and put to one side until next needed.

    Putting the paint on a damp surface rather than dry keeps the paint workable for significantly longer when painting. Also, by putting the lid on the container, the wet palette keeps the paint workable until the next session. Indeed I went back to mine the other day, last used 3 months previous, and the paint was still workable. Making the palette has transformed how I use acrylics.

    My other tips are that:
    1. You can use water, just as you would with thinners for oils, to make a wash which flows into cracks and joints.
    2. Damping parts of a surface before painting helps the paint travel across those areas.
    3. To get a bit of texture, weathering powers can be mixed into the paint.
    4. Priming first with the usual Halfords rattle can helps the paint stick.

    Here's a few shots of some of the finishes I've got:


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  20. Brian T

    Brian T Western Thunderer

    The provender store is really very nice,especially the patched effect on the top step..

    Pencarrow likes this.