Friday, 14 November 2014

Weather..., or not...The Art of Making Dirty...

Weathering, what do we think chaps?

I always weather a model building as a matter of course, wouldn't give it a second thought, but weathering locos and rolling stock has never been a big thing for me.  And the recent passion for a grimy loco has had me thinking it isn't generally done very well.  Everything looks just dusty, like it's been hanging around a cement works or a China clay factory for too long.  Practitioners of the weathered model just seemed to make something look overall dusty, with no real observation of where and how much the grime and neglect needed to be represented, so I went off it, especially as my chum's lovely SCRATCHBUILT O gauge stuff looks so nice in its North Eastern Green with teak Gresley coaches made from pear veneer real wood.

Then I started thinking that spraying, brushing, powdering a few plastic locos can't be rocket science and if model making was going to go all 3D print and generally disappear from my client lists, it might be an idea to have a look into this new fashion for grime.  I also have breathed in more dust than most should have a right to do, making master patterns in Ureol and wood.
So, I had a gander round the Interweb and found a LOT of weathering outfits.  Most were the aforementioned "dust" merchants, but some were really good and one or two were VERY good.
An averagely convincing outfit were around 50 quid for an O gauge loco or diesel, 35 for an OO model.  But THE best, bar none, were a ridiculously cheap £25-30 for a big model and they look like this:-
Please do click on the picture to have a close look at these.  They are remarkable for a thirty quid service.
Whilst the V1/3 loco was the first scratchbuilt model I ever built from nickel silver sheet and a Skinley drawing and is therefore one of my favourites, I hate to see it in this condition, but just look at the scaling of the footplate, the textured rust on the smokebox.  How DOES he do that?
Bear in mind these are just plastic RTR Bachman or Hornby type things (you can see the mould lines here and there).  Clearly the moulded detail is a bit better than when I was dirtying the model shop window with my 10 year old nose.  I'm not sure I could scratchbuild a loco and then do this to it, but the truth is, all locos look a bit this way after a day's running at a Heritage line, never mind neglectful late BR days in the 50s and 60s and if you have a convincing layout and buildings, the stock is going to have to match.  Speaking of stock, look at this:-
Not just rust but flaking, peeling rust, done, probably with the salt, hairspray, etc. method.  But on a £10 weathering job??  I wouldn't do this for less than fifty notes of anybody's money. I know how long it takes!  These are just OO gauge proprietary wagons. No idea which as I buy nothing and can't be bothered to trawl through the ad sections of magazines I've been bought/given.  But don't they look good?

Now, I'm yer akshul Gresley teak cognoscenti, let me tell you. I have made Gresley teaks from BSL aluminium kits covered in real teak when I was 14 to Gauge 1 made from Perspex and veneered in steamed pear. French polished.
I've also made them in home cast resin section,s grained to look like teak.  But look at the grimey BR liveried one above.  It really looks like a cleaner has done his best to respect these most elegant of coaches and almost failed.
These above examples of the very best of weathering techniques and skills are the work of a company called The Art of Making Dirty.
Have a longer linger here:-

Realising that my beloved Paasche Model H airbrushes might not atomise finely enough for this kind of work, I faced the fact that I might have to get one of those neo for Iwata things for around 50 notes, but whilst doing my research I found a company flogging a perfectly good looking instrument called a Finespray. Eventually I found a set they do of TWO airbrushes with hose, spare sizes of nozzles/needles and connectors to the air line plus other bits 'n' bobs for an amazing 30 quid!  In exclaiming aloud, my dear bride got interested and jumped across the room and "Bought it now" as a Christmas present, bless her.  So now I have a spotting gun (small spraygun for car dents and large coverage), a Paasche Model H for colours, another Paasche for clear only and this new set coming for weathering. I already have a large and a small compressor so I should be, as they say, sorted.  Throw into the mix a Paasche Air Eraser (bought as part of the deal when I got my original Model H years ago) and I should be able to get some interesting effects.

I also found that The Weathering Works were very convincing for only a little more money and GCWeathering, a husband and wife team in Essex were excellent, but sorry guys, you don't get close to the above detail and one of them is twice the price.  And of course the great Martyn Welch, who wrote the book on the topic (amongst many who have done just that) doesn't even mention what he charges, on the web. The almost lionised Ian Rathbone has a stuffy website more or less saying he's so good that he is too busy to answer queries about more work, blah, blah...

I say"Sod the Gods".
Go to The Art of Making Dirty, (no connection whatever)

or wait till I get my airbrushes out again and my chalk pastels ground up and I'll do it for you!
I fancy having a go

Pics from their website.


  1. To the dark side welcome Martin. Been waiting for you we have. Hmmmmmm.

  2. Have you been a weatherer in your railroad past, Rich?

  3. I've been known to weather my weathering from time to time.

    (I wonder where my last post went off to???)

  4. I always wonder about some of the prices charged for building models. Having dabbled and decided that when making stuff pays worse than flipping burgers it wasn't worth doing. It seems you are getting a lot of work for no money here. I wonder how long it can carry on...

  5. I have your last post up here, matey. First comment in the list.

  6. Phil, it seems to depend who you are. Mr.Welch no doubt gets a small fortune as one of the MRJ "lodge", but the rest of us don't. We are the awkward squad who are unemployable and actually like working for ourselves. I don't do weathering but am seriously considering it as I really am sick of slot car patternmaking. As quick as I am at general modelmaking I doubt if I earn minimum wage on some of them and building kits for people into finished slot cars is starvation money. I hate building kits anyway! There's a guy who reckons a powder weathered loco (quite nicely too) takes an hour. So 25 quid is fair enough, but 25 for the AOMD stuff above is no way any kind of living wage. I have heard from the gent now and he says they were always done at a loss and he hardly does any anymore. I'm a decent cook, but I'm damned if I'd flip burgers for any money!

  7. Martin,

    Since this posting seems to have taken a rather different turn than what I had posted, and seemingly lost is of no matter.
    In a nutshell. You build masters correct? How else would they look other than new? Also why didn't we weather any of those ship models we built back in the day?
    A steam locomotive is rather like a farm tractor ain't it? I mean it starts off as new but then after hauling muck, pesticides and all matter of nasty things it starts to get a bit tatty. As the years roll on how many people who work these things ever kept them as new? It took me 13 years to murder an International Harvester Backhoe.
    When new I washed it down every day. after a few years and the paint started to go flat why bother and just l keep it mechanically in good shape. I killed a Cat D-8 in six but that was a refinish job anyway.
    I've known a lot of custom train painters in my day and not a one is still doing it. The new plastic stuff, give it a try if you wish but the old brass had to be totally disassembled and then put right after being painted. Not an easy task.
    Consider, Building a model of the White House Corner crash back in the Bently glory days. Who would want a scale model of a wrecked automobile? And could you sell enough of those to make a profit and a living wage.
    I think about these things late at night while waiting for the meds to kick in.
    Seems a fair question really. Why? , that is........

  8. Rich, your first post is still here. But as you discern, the angle has moved a little.
    I agree with all you say there, except the weathering thing is a fad. I opened a 1997 mag today and there was no weathering evident apart from one pathetic attempt. Open one today and it's everywhere. It's keeping quite a few people afloat it seems. Now if a chap can do it in an hour, there's money in it. If as Mr. Welch and some others suggest they spend hours or even days on a basic weathering job, then no, there's less than burger flipping in it.
    The odd thing is people seem to be willing to pay for this service, on road vehicles and buildings as well as locos, wagons and carriages. I even did a damaged Le Mans D-Type Jag recently for Tom Wysom, but he and I are as weird as you, old friend. I have just been looking for an alternative to the work that is slipping the way of my old trade, illustration. Not sure how long the pension credits that are due, will last. Oh and nothing would look naffer than a weathered wooden speedboat!! Yuch!

  9. I love those models that the wonderful Mr Welch does where the loco is made to look careworn but well kept...they are fascinating bits of work, beautifully understated. Yes, sadly, as Phil says, there is less and less money in model making these days and 75% of the quotes I give out don't come back, despite my being pretty cheap. But I love doing what I do, and I know that I wouldn't make models just for myself, due to some strange personality defect (oh,not another one...) so making things for other people does it for me and pays a modest ...OK, tiny wage. And I write, drive trucks and do other stuff to keep the roof over our heads, although still consider myself to be a professional modelmaker. There's money in doing things for architects and oil companies, but those people, the oil folk anyway, are more unpleasant than a box of bankers, I would truly rather stack shelves than work for them again. I've been doing some 3D imaging for an architect/builder, but while I enjoy the challenges, it's not nearly the same.
    I love the weathering on the V1 and the Gresley coach...brilliant!
    Apart from the financial side of things, which I can't comment on for weathering, I think you would do a fabulous job and I can't wait to see what you come up with.

  10. Iain, I do like Mr. Welch's work, but the inference on his site is that "you can't afford it". He alone, it seems, does that look where the cleaner can't get round all the rivets, A very realistic look. Oddly, I used to drive tractors to help the funds. Interesting that you wouldn't make models for yourself. I am coming round to the same attitude these days. Burnout on slot car masters maybe? Advertising agencies pay the best. I did a rush job once, through John de Fraysinett of County Gate fame. Three days work for £1800! Flat out, but worth it.
    I have some N-Drive kits I made the masters for. Maybe I should build them up and have a bash at weathering. Otherwise, I have no model railway stock at all!