I made the small sentry box seen on the Cranbrook station out of plastcard and embossed planking sheet.
Using some card held against the roof angle and a good straight edge, I made a template for the walls of the dormer windows. This is where I introduce you to my best friend...
The Chopper! By NorthWest Short Line, an American company. This device (pricey in the UK but worth every penny) is the scratch builder's best friend. The sharp blade cuts through most plastic with ease and accuracy, including 2mm square rod. The included attachments also help with cutting to uniform lengths and angles. It made creating 6 identical triangle pieces a doddle and they all fit perfectly! I added some more of that 2mm rod to support the roofs that will be added later.
I wanted to avoid having to paint certain elements when they were already assembled on the building. I just don't believe in my ability to paint in such fine detail. So I elected to paint the windows separately and fit them when the walls had been painted too. The problem with this approach was that the extra layers of paint would thicken the walls and risk making the fit of the windows much less accurate.
I started by masking the outside and giving the inside of the building a spray of matt black from a Halford rattle can. This is to help with light leakage when I add lights later on.
Next is my favourite part: applying the undercoat. This makes everything a uniform colour which is very gratifying after using so many different parts, colours and textures. It also shows up any inconsistencies or gaps in the exterior which may require filling. It also allows acrylic paint to adhere to shiny plastic. Halfords own brand grey primer is perfect; cheap, good quality and readily available. I don't paint anything now without giving a coat of Halfords grey! Here's a shot of the building in position on the platform.
Next up is the mortar for the brickwork. I always do this first. I've used a variety of different colours in the past but I've always felt they've been too yellow/cream. There's a big difference between what colour an object is in real life and what it appears as from a distance. How often do we view our models as close as a scale figure would? I have a big interest in the use of colour on model railways and some of my favourite examples have been those that use a carefully considered palette of subtle colours.
So I made my own mortar by mixing small amounts of cream into the remainder of a pot of Humbrol white. I like to mark the lid so I know what the colour will really set like.
This colour is then watered down ever so slightly. This helps it to seep into the brickwork. I ultimately want it between the brick, not on top. Some people would gently wipe away the paint from the surface but I don't always see this as necessary, particularly when working with acrylics.
Once dry, I dry brush on a light brown - usually Humbrol 186 Brown - making sure it's only a light coat. I have a very tiny amount of paint on the brush at this stage, most having been wiped away on a piece of paper towel. Brushing gently at a diagonal angle helps to keep the paint on the surface and away from the recesses filled with "mortar."
After that, a coat of Humbrol 70 Brick Red in the same fashion as before, adding a little bit more than previously as this is the majority colour. Patience is important here; it's easy to rush and ruin the subtle colouration. Then I create a small amount of No. 70 darkened with a drop of black to add another layer of colour. I've attempted the method of picking out individual bricks in the past but have never been able to make it work for me. I find that making sure the whole surface has variations in colour gives a good effect.
My homemade mortar was then used for the rendering on the front and also the windowsills.
Since I'm building a range of Southern Railway era buildings I needed some paint that was accurate to the colours used at the time. I've been using Phoenix Precision Paints SR Middle Chrome Green and SR Buildings Cream. They're enamel paints which I ultimately dislike using - I prefer the flexibility of acrylics, particularly the ability to easily layer colours - but they do have their uses. The SR was well known for giving their buildings a nice new coat of paint shortly before closing that line down. Even so, these paints don't look realistic straight from the can and will need toning down. I have experimented by dry brushing a lightened version of the green over the top of the front door.
The last stage of the brickwork was to tone down those colours a bit. The mortar was just a little too pale, the bricks just a bit too brown and the colours between just a bit too distinct from one another.
I mixed a colour which approximated Phoenix's own Sleeper Grime, from some browns and greys. I watered it down enough so that it flowed but also allowed some colour to stick without overpowering the existing colours, something that takes a bit of testing! Then I simply brushed it over the brickwork, allowing it to seep into every nook and cranny. When dry it gave a pleasing appearance to the once-too-bright brickwork.
Finally, a test fit for the windows and a coat of paint for the sentry box.
Almost there. Hopefully one final blog entry will do the trick...
All for now,