Scale Modeling: Weathering Tips & Tricks

After you’ve painted your mannequin, add some weathering to essentially carry a scale airplane to life. Every approach by itself could be very efficient and, added collectively, actually produce astonishing realism.  My buddy Dave Reid commissioned me to color his giant-scale SNJ Texan, and it has been the instance for these ongoing how-to articles. I weathered and detailed the Texan, which I painted with latex in early U.S. Navy markings. As I discussed within the earlier article, a little bit goes a great distance, so all the time use a light-weight contact when dirtying up your scale fashions. How a lot weathering do you have to do? All the time seek the advice of your reference images, and cease whenever you assume you’re midway there.

“Metal”-colored paint and coarse metal wool make great-looking “chipped” paint.

The wings take a beating. Flaking and chipped paint is a should.

You’ll want to add a small quantity of chips to your tail feather’s main edges.

After getting the bottom paint excellent and also you’ve accomplished fundamental weathering, a typical worn look might be made by simulating paint chips flaking off. Getting the paint to appear to be it’s flaking off will not be very simple. Some use a silver undercoat after which sand off the paint over it to present a worn look. To me, nevertheless, plane paint doesn’t flake off easily except there’s a constant carrying agent comparable to toes on walkways and arms resting on window rails.

I believe to get essentially the most life like paint flakes, it’s important to paint them on. I take advantage of two methods. The primary works properly for very small chips within the paint, and it produces a really random impact. Dip plain outdated metal wool (I take advantage of a rough grade) in a little bit puddle of steel-colored paint (not silver!). Silver is just too brilliant; you need the chipped-off space to appear to be it has been there some time. Metal paint seems to be extra like oxidized aluminum and seems extra pure. After dipping the metal wool within the paint, pat it on a bit of cardboard or fabric to take away the surplus. Then pat the metal wool on the floor you wish to appear to be chipped paint. Fluctuate your angle, and rotate the metal wool to maintain it random.

The second approach is a bit more time-consuming and extra tedious. I take advantage of a “liner” brush and metal enamel mannequin paint and simply paint the chips on. The positive liner brush provides to the linear impact that appears scribbled alongside the main edges of management and flight surfaces. Once more apply the paint in a random sample. Simply be mindful the impact which may be occurring on the plane. On the main edges of the cowl and wings, the paint will chip extra with the airflow resulting from rocks, grit, bugs and so forth that knock the paint unfastened. On fuse-lage aspect panels, the paint chips on edges and runs alongside the panel seams. Hatches get extra put on, so round these edges the paint flakes, and typically the panels get thrown on the bottom and get scratched. Additionally, paint peels away from rivet heads, so to get that impact, it’s important to paint metal round rivets too. Hold all this in thoughts, and apply your paint with a goal, but additionally hold it random. When unsure, verify your reference.

Wing walks

This shade documentation photograph reveals how actually worn out the wing walks can get.

Duplicate the wing-walk sample with bits of masking tape.

Now, to make the Texan appear to be it has been utilized by many flight cadets, it’s important to add some extreme put on on the wing-walk areas close to the fuselage and cockpit entries. On the full-size plane, these have been coated with a nonskid coating, very similar to tough sandpaper, to stop the skyward-bound aviators from slipping and falling off the wing.

I discovered a photograph of a Texan that I assumed can be very attention-grabbing to duplicate its worn wing-walk areas (see at left). Notice how the nonslip coating has peeled off from use. After masking off the fundamental rectangle form of the wing-walk space, I tore little bits of masking tape and positioned them in a random style to simulate the damage patterns proven within the photograph.

I combine microballoons into my “wing stroll” paint to supply a convincing, non-slip floor.

Blended with the microballons, I take advantage of a brush to use the Liquitex paint to the wing.

Right here, the darkish non-slip has been utilized, however it nonetheless wants weathering.

An excellent dose of Mannequin Grasp acrylic “leather-based” paint has been utilized.

I created a scale nonslip coating as a result of I didn’t assume sandpaper glued to the wing would look very convincing. I used Liquitex acrylic paint, which is pretty thick, and blended it with microballoons. The microballoons give the paint a grainy texture that appears excellent. Add sufficient microballoons so the Liquitex is saturated with them, after which simply paint the combination on with a brush. After all, you may’t simply paint the wing stroll a deep wealthy black and depart it that approach. It doesn’t look actual! To climate it down a little bit, I airbrushed a light-weight grey wash over the black. After that had dried, I wetted the floor down and utilized dose of Mannequin Grasp acrylic “leather-based” paint, rubbing it backwards and forwards to unfold the colour out whereas the paint was nonetheless moist. I dabbed at it with a paper towel very evenly to interrupt up the streaking and provides a little bit “pitter-patter” impact. Mud and dirt collects on the floor; it then will get floor in by folks strolling on the floor. Then with rain and airstream, it dissolves and flows again and in opposition to the fuselage. This refined mottling of the assorted colours replicates the colour and look of the particular wing stroll. The impact is refined, however very efficient. Once you’ve completed, draw back the masking tape and see how beat-up and life like the wing stroll seems to be! The final photograph actually reveals the grain and peeled impact very properly. The blue paint beneath the nonslip coating will ultimately appear to be it has worn all the way down to the aluminum, however that may be accomplished later.

Rub the “leather-based” shade in along with your fingers and actually unfold it round whereas it’s nonetheless moist.

Dab with a paper towel and also you now have that mud and dirt look.

Listed below are the completed outcomes. Fairly “beat up,” ‘eh?

Somewhat little bit of metal shade makes the damage appear to be it has reached the aluminum wing pores and skin.


In regards to the Writer

RC modeler and warbird lover Lyle Vasser has been hooked on aviation all his life. He obtained the “bug” from his father whereas watching him fly one-channel fashions within the 1960s. Lyle has been flying RC plane for over 30 years, and can be a full-scale pilot. One aspect of the interest that has all the time been attention-grabbing to Lyle is methods to make pilot figures in scale fashions look lifelike. After being pissed off by the unrealistic pilot figures available on the market, he determined to make his personal, striving to create pilot figures which are simply as detailed because the fashions they go in. He owns an organization referred to as Finest Pilots (, that arguably supply the perfect pilot figures within the interest. The inset reveals one in all Lyle’s pilot figures in a scale P-47 Thunderbolt.