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Weathered Wood - A Worked Example

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  • RMweb Gold

On another thread (http://www.rmweb.co.uk/community/index.php?/topic/99615-transfers-for-airfix-lowmac/) , where I was asking about getting replacement transfers for an Airfix Lowmac EK, I was asked if I could give an overview of how I got the wood effect on the Lowmac deck. So here’s a worked example - it’s the floor of a Parkside Plate wagon.


The equipment used is:   

  • Lifecolor acrylic weathered wood paint set
  • Lifecolor acrylic BR unfitted freight grey (UA 818)
  • MIG Black smoke weathering powder
  • No.  2 round paintbrush – good condition
  • No. 0 Filbert paintbrush – poor condition

Start by giving the whole floor two coats of “Wood Cold Base Color” (sic) (UA717) from the weathered wood set with a decent quality brush, and leave to dry for 24 hours to harden off.  This is important as the subsequent dry-brushing can be quite vigorous, and can remove the base layer. Guess how I know this…



Then, when that’s fully dry, things do speed up a bit. Take the “Wood Warm Base Color” (UA714) from the weathered wood set, and using the grotty filbert brush, start drybrushing along the grain of the planks.  Note that this is really, really, really drybrushing – if you think there’s no paint at all on the brush, there’s probably too much.  . The picture below shows the effect we are looking for on part of the floor.



When it’s done we should have something that looks a bit like this:



There’s no need to wait before moving on to the next step – the drybrushing means the paint is dry pretty much as soon as it has been applied. So next take the “Wood Warm Light Color” (UA 715) from the weathered wood set and repeat the drybrushing, to give something that looks like this.



The next step is important and takes a new colour not from the weathered wood set. I use “Lifecolor Unfitted Freight Grey” (UA818) because I’ve got some handy, but any medium grey will be OK.  Generally, the older wood gets, the greyer it becomes, so this is an important step in defining how old our wood will look.  So repeat the drybrushing process, but adding a bit more grey if we want older wood.  I’ve gone for a not-too-old look here:



As well as going grey, older wood take on silvery highlights, and these are then added by guess what?  More drybrushing - this time with “Wood Cold Light Shade” (UA718) from the weathered wood set.



The final drybrushing stage is then to add the darker highlights (if that makes sense) using the “Wood Warm Dark Shade” (UA713) from the weathered wood set, to give us something like this:



Because this is going to be the floor of a plate wagon, I felt that a bit of pre-weathering would be appropriate, and so I’ve just worked in some MIG Black Smoke weathering powder to darken the effect, using the grotty filbert brush.



And that’s it really.  All the drybrushing and powder work on this floor took me about 35 mins, so it’s not too time consuming.

Just remember  - the most important things are to make sure that the drybrushing is really, really dry, and remember that if you make a mistake, just rub it off (I use my finger) and have another go.


Any questions?



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Zero Gravitas,

Thanks for this, i really do need to invest in the lifecolor weathered wood set. I've been mixing my own light browns and greys which i felt were looking almost right, but these colours seem to harmonise together which i've struggled with achieving.

Thanks again and I hope you get somewhere with your decal request.


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  • 3 months later...

I'm very grateful for this short tutorial. Even though I have the Lifecolor set I was having considerable trouble getting something that actually looked like wood - however, following your method I have achieved some excellent results.  Thanks!



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  • 3 years later...
  • RMweb Gold

A bump for this thread to say I'm going to use a similar technique on my TMC double bolster wagon. :imsohappy: Nice work ZG.


I've been searching for this topic for a few days now, to answer a previous question! (!  :declare:  ) I'm glad you found it - it shows just how effective the set of colours can be if used sensitively.

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  • RMweb Gold



Is there anything special about the paints, or is just a set of regular acrylic paints in useful colours for doing wood?


Lifecolor do quite a range of sets when you dig deep enough. They even do a set especially for doing white woods  . :O Eileen's and Hobby Holidays sell some of the ranges in separate pots at around £3 each.

Edited by gwrrob
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  • 2 weeks later...
  • RMweb Gold

Is there anything special about the paints, or is just a set of regular acrylic paints in useful colours for doing wood?


It's just a selection of 6 colours of regular acrylic paint for doing wood. You could probably do a better job selecting individual colours yourself from any other range of paints (acrylic or enamels) that better suit "weathered wood". 

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  • RMweb Gold



Early efforts using Games Workshop acrylics. I've since moved away from the brown/warm tones as they do not look like "weathered" wood to me and have moved to more grey/silvery tones.

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Variety is good....The interior planking would not be so subject to weathering as the exterior and would have stayed more "wooden" for longer. I have quite a few gathered wagon interior shots with shades similar to those so keep on with both.I use GW and Lifecolor for this sort of thing but prefer the Lifecolor for its subtle shadings. r

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  • 1 month later...

Thank you Zero Gravitas!

This was my first attempt at wood weathering on a recent magazine freebie...

I followed the worked example given at the beginning of the thread-

For a first attempt, I’m pleased with the outcome, having been searching for a viable simple method.

Now to add final top weathered layers and rust up the iron work.

Thanks againpost-19540-0-97635000-1545081092_thumb.jpeg

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Early efforts using Games Workshop acrylics. I've since moved away from the brown/warm tones as they do not look like "weathered" wood to me and have moved to more grey/silvery tones.


Can you tell us what colours you are using please?

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Attached are a couple of wagons I took at Princes Risborough a month or two back it does show the unpainted wood a kind of silver grey not much yellow or brown in it.


The third picture is one of my models of an unpainted finish for this I spray the model silver in the first place let it dry then use use Pheonix weather wood which is a dark grey brown clour painted on in certain areas. Again when dry a glass firbre brush can be used to take the colour back, before washes and other weather is used to finish.






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  • 4 weeks later...
  • RMweb Gold

Can you tell us what colours you are using please?


Hi polybear, the ones in the pic were all done in my acrylic phase. I used Games Workshop colours as shown below.




I've just realised a couple of colours are missing, the wonderfully named Bestial Brown which is darker/browner than any of the above (not used it since the very early builds in my thread, I find it too dark) and BoltGun Metal to get a silvery finish on some of the wagons.


The colours below are in my current palette of enamels;

Humbrol 34 White

Revell 76 Light Grey

Humbrol 64 Light Grey

Humbrol 28 Camouflage Grey

Revell 99 Aluminium

Humbrol 83 Ochre

Humbrol 121 Pale Stone

Humbrol 71 Oak




I always now try for a much lighter effect, the dark washes used to get the gaps in the plank to show up will tone down the lightness.



Edited by 57xx
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  • 1 year later...

Quite a lot of my modelling predates acrylics, but I've been enjoying working out how to get the best of them, as demonstrated in this thread.  One thing I would like to add is the usefulness of roughing up the surface before getting out the paint.  These wagons had a hard life - polluted rain, men in hobnail boots, heavy and often sharp-edged steel loads, caustic and forcefully loaded coal loads.  I prefer to break up the regularity and smoothness of the pristine plastic or white metal planking. 


Since 1970 you haven't been able to pop down to the station to check what the real thing looks like, and the colour film of that time aren't terribly accurate in the red/brown it of the spectrum - and that's without any fading of prints. However, I have found the scruffier sort of builders and scaffolders lorries can give a good general idea of what you should be aiming at.  As David BCP says further up this thread, the real thing is less brown and more silver and grey than you think



The wagon in the photo has had this done:


T.  he gaps between the planks has been varied by a gentle use of a Tamiya skrawker. Important not to overdo this, except maybe on the sides of wooden coal wagons towards the end of their lives when sometimes the wear and tear progressed to actual holes. Also important - make sure you score right to the ends, otherwise it looks odd.


2.  Using the skrawker even more lightly, score cracks into a few of the planks.


3.  If it's to be an old wagon do a couple of bits of more serious damage by using the skrawker more vigorously and at a bit of an angle.


4.  Make a rake by fixing a short length of junior hacksaw blade into a small Exacto knife handle or, a tubby 4-jaw pin vice.  Scrape it with the grain of the "wood", again taking good care to go right into the side.


5.  Give the floor (or sides) a good, random rub over with coarse glasspaper to simulate scuffing.


6.  Give it a good scrub with an old toothbrush and make sure you are happy with what you see.




First, remember that  because of the way we process images, models should generally be a bit paler than the reaal thing.  Think Father Ted trying to teach Dougal This is small, that is far away.


Like anything else to do with weathering, you can't do better than go to Martin Welch's Art of weathering and his more recent articles in MRJ.


Over the years I 've used all sorts of grey, brown, gunmetal paints, enamel and acryllic, and you can get to the right final colour blend with all sorts of combinations, so long as they are all matte.  Especially with enamels, which give you time before they gel, I have found that the easy way to get natural variation is to use a ceramic artists palette with three or four shades, and mix them on your brush.


Put down the main coat very thinly, so as not to clog up all your preparation and then drybrush a darker shade (gunmetal and/or metalcote gunmetal) across the grain; this will highlight the damage done by the sanding, raking and glasspapering. 


Be sure follow the lucid drybrushing advice by Zero Gravitas at the top of this thread, though none of this stuff is non-reversible.  Weathering is truly a cousin to the architectural concept that Less is more.


The wood used in wagons was not of brilliant quality, and you can use tiny amounts of dark brown paint to simulate knots.  These seemed to be more common on the side planks of unpainted or repaired wagons than on decks.  New repair planks tend to be a greyish-yellow, but this can still be


After Painting

Small amounts of weathering powder can give additional variations.  Again, be sparing and have some wet cotton buds to hand.


Tony McSean




Edited by Hollar
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