The ultimate black pastel for weathering is the finely powdered toner in photocopying machines and laser printers. The toners electrostatic properties make it cling tenaciously to whatever surface it is applied to. To seal the powder in place, apply heat with a hand held hair dryer — not too hard, or you will blow the powder away! A little toner goes a long way. If you work in an office with photocopiers or laser printers, befriend the maintenance person who refills these machines with toner and you will have a lifetime supply.


On older railway wagons, the original lettering often turns yellow or even dark orange from the rust coming through the paint. This can be duplicated by going over the decals or lettering with orange/brown water colours. This should be done prior to the application of any oversprays. The water colour does a nice job of staining the lettering but does not seem to affect the wagon colour very much. This can also be used to simulate the discolouration of the lettering from age — use a light tan wash to duplicate the yellowing that is often seen.


To simulate areas where paint has worn off a metal object, most modellers dry brush the area with metallic paint using a flat tipped paint brush. Coloured pencils, found in most art supply stores, are available in most metallic colours. Sharpen the pencil and lightly rub the side of the point over the models raised details. This technique works great, and best of all, there is no clean-up.


Artists pastel chalk ground to a powder and applied with a cut down old paint brush is a well known technique for weathering and shading buildings, wagons and other models on your layout. The one drawback to this technique is that it is not permanent. If the model is handled, then fingerprints will leave their greasy outline. If the chalk gets wet it tends to run and leave a stain. An early solution suggested was to use a matt varnish to seal it, however, this usually results in a colour change and an unnatural effect. To overcome this drawback, use an aerosol spray of clear leather protector (silicon based) as sold in shoe shops. This will fix the chalk without discolouring it. Make sure that only a light coat is applied as a mist. If liquid accumulates, then you might end up with runs and staining.


Why not let mother nature do your weathering for you. Just put your models outside where the rays of the sun can go to work in the model. Most hobby paints weather quickly in direct sunlight and this gives a more realistic effect. A couple of words of warning though — if the sun is too hot it may warp your model, and don’t leave them out in the rain either.


The brand name is not important, just make sure you get chalk pastels, not oils for weathering purposes. Grind the chalks into powder by rubbing them on sandpaper and brushed onto the model with a stubble brush or cotton swab. A clear flat overcoat should not fish-eye over the chalks.


Weather everything on your layout but don’t overdo it. Photographs will show you how immaculately clean or over bright models or buildings stand out as being artificial. Toning down is all that is necessary, though, not a liberal covering of filth.


After applying pastel chalks for weathering, try streaking them with a damp brush. It makes the weathering look more realistic and helps the powder adhere to the model.


Take care when colouring models. In nature, colours tend to be muted, particularly if viewed from a distance, and strong tones are rare. Find subdued tones – a dark grey may be more convincing than black, for example. Weathering is as much about toning down strong colours as making models look dirty.


Weathering is as much about toning down strong colours as making models look dirty. Check nature and note that the colours are not strong but muted.


If you want to weather something to look rusty, use the real thing. An inexpensive way to make real rust powder is to gently pull a pad of steel wool apart to make it thinner and flatter. Place it on a sheet of wax paper and mist it regularly with water. The pad will start to rust almost immediately, and as it does, collect the rust particles from the waxed paper, grind them into a powder and store them in an empty paint jar. One pad will produce a lot of powder in just a few days. The powder can be applied directly to the model with an old paint brush, or it can be mixed with water, or alcohol and painted onto the model. A final coat of clear flat will seal the rust to the model and protect it during handling.


Unless you are trying to model that fresh-off-the-production-line look, weathering will make your model appear even more convincing. And what better way to make your weathering look authentic than to use real dirt. Mix up a batch of mud using real dirt, water and PVA glue. Mix up the dirt/water first. When it is the consistency you want, add a few drops of PVA glue until the mud looks a little bit milky. Carefully apply the mixture with a paint brush to the model in the appropriate places. The glue will become invisible when it dries, and the dirt will be permantly attached.


The weathering of a model with paint has its place, but there is nothing like using three dimensional weathering for realism. One of the best ways to subtly weather a model is to use pastel chalk. Scrape a razor blade across the stick to create a fine powder of pastel dust, and apply the dust to the model with a small artist’s brush. If properly worked into the model, the pastel dust should adhere by itself and stand up to a certain amount of handling.


If you are not sure that pastel chalk dust on your model will stand up to constant handling, brush-paint or spray the model with a dull or gloss clearcoat (or a mixture, depending on the amount of shine required) and sprinkle the chalk dust, or even fine dirt, onto the wet patch before it has a chance to dry. The clear coat will bond the dust or dirt to the paint.


When scratchbuilding structures with wood, pour some of your cup of strong black tea into a saucer or shallow dish and let it get cold. Place the wood for the building into the cold tea, just covering it. Then scatter some scraps of tin or iron on the wood. This will rust and help give the wood a dirty, rust coloured effect.


Put some white vinegar into a jar along with a few nails or other bits of rusty iron. Let this stand overnight and then brush the mixture onto the wood you are going to use to build some layout structures. The result is a silver-greying colour and the more you brush on, the darker it gets.