Model Rail (UK) - - Skills Station -

The air­brush’s abil­ity to spray ul­tra-fine mists of paint with amaz­ing pre­ci­sion is what lends the tool per­fectly to the weath­er­ing process. In­deed, ap­pli­ca­tion of paint via an air­brush mim­ics how the pro­to­type ac­crues dirt, dust and smoke stain­ing in real life.

Many as­sume that weath­er­ing with an air­brush is a quick process. That may well be the case for an ex­pert with years of ex­pe­ri­ence, or for those want­ing the most ba­sic of fin­ishes. How­ever, for a thor­ough and ef­fec­tive job, it takes time to build up just the right amount of paint in ex­actly the right places.

The com­plex­ity of the ob­ject also dic­tates the ease and speed of a project. A plain, flat-sided ob­ject of­fers min­i­mal chal­lenge, but throw in raised and re­cessed de­tail, com­plex an­gu­lar or cir­cu­lar pro­files and a de­tailed chas­sis and things get a lit­tle more com­pli­cated.

For those new to weath­er­ing with an air­brush, I’d heartily rec­om­mend start­ing with a wagon as a sub­ject. Hav­ing worked through the pre­vi­ous air­brush­ing ex­er­cises in this Skills Sta­tion mod­ule, you should be con­fi­dent in get­ting the paint thinned cor­rectly, set­ting the air pres­sure and in the op­er­a­tion of the air­brush it­self. Weath­er­ing de­mands that all of these as­pects are cor­rectly ob­served, as we need to be in full con­trol of the paint flow at all times.

The Hornby coke hop­per em­ployed in the fol­low­ing demon­stra­tion of­fers an ex­cel­lent ba­sis for hon­ing one’s air­brush weath­er­ing skills, as it boasts lots of sur­face re­lief, a fairly com­plex pro­file and a de­tailed chas­sis. In or­der to get the ‘dirt’ into and around all of the de­tail, the air­brush needs to be moved around con­stantly, ap­proach­ing the model from dif­fer­ent an­gles and dis­tances.

With such an in­volved task, the chal­lenge is to main­tain min­i­mal paint out­put from the air­brush at all times, avoid­ing the risk of ‘over-cook­ing’ things. We’re not look­ing to oblit­er­ate the paint­work, af­ter all. In­stead, our aim is to make the model ap­pear dirty and care­worn.

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