MiniatureBuildings.co.uk : Exploring model buildings of all sizes and styles
The art of growing old gracefully.
At some point in the life and work of most modellers they reach the point
when they want their brand new model to look old and used.
Knocked about a bit, softened at the edges, realistically grubby and
lived in. The urge to get away from showroom finish is probably most pronounced in
military modellers and common among railway modellers. My
impression is that this desire for realism is becoming a developing
trend among building modellers outside these genres as
weathering on this cottage (the real thing, not a model!) is low key and would need a particularly
gentle touch when modelling it . Note the
central panel of brickwork. The bricks are the same
mix of colours as in other panels but repointing has changed the
overall impression of colour. Note also the irregularity of
the tile lines - uneven but not jagged. This characteristic could
easily be overdone.
Weathering is not an art I have
and what follows is a jackdaw-like
gathering of real life
examples and bits and pieces from the
work of others - the work of
experts in the field. But be
warned. You may become so
depressed by their
expertise that you will feel the urge
to hang up your brushes and craft
knife and go and find another hobby.
The best work in this
field is quite stunning and is as much help
to most of us as the
Sistine chapel is to the beginner
The world of Zombie apocalypse urban gaming
does not often feature in my articles but
you might like to take a look at this
from a guy calling himself the
His explanation of how he weathered a building
to the point of dereliction is clear
and full of practical tips, even if his
presentational style is a little unusual.
Mel the Terrain Tutor
caught in mid washing.
His key tip is that before actually putting the
thin wash paint onto the model he first wets
the whole surface with plain water so the wash
flows freely rather than sticking.
The building he is working on came from
Sarissa Precision Ltd.
I've not previously come across them but they
produce a huge and varied range of buildings
and terrain for wargamers, mostly in 28mm but
also in 40mm, 20mm and 15mm scales. The
range is truly enormous. I had not realised
the wargames market was so big.
The models, made
from laser cut MDF, come unpainted in kit form
and there are specialists like Gary Peach, trading
March Attack who will paint
and make them for you. I mention Gary because I really
guide on how to paint in a weathered style.
A true challenge for any modeller
dollops of mud on a pristine building will not cut it. Just
like the art of make-up we are generally looking for a
subtle and natural effect. Weathering can be overdone and
caricature. Take a look at how good it
A most unusual piece by Karen
Corbin, whose work we have praised before.
A contest winning
kitbashed structure by Al Sohl from the Long Island Model Railroad
Engineers as illustrated on the weatheringdoctor.com. site.
Take particular note of the join between the base of the building and
the sidewalk and the piled up rubbish. In an
article on that site Al describes how he uses a "weathering brew" made
from black or brown shoe dye mixed with rubbing alcohol.
The full article is certainly worth a read.
Elements of Weathering.
Weathering is not simply the application of a grubby or lightening wash
over pristine paintwork. It has multiple aspects:
- A softening and dulling of colours - faded
paint, aged brickwork and bleached timber
- Accumulated dirt and grime, both on the surface
and around the base of walls ( see the Denton Hotel model
above), water staining
- Partial collapse of structures, sagging roofs,
- Bits and pieces nailed onto the structure
good illustration of how water, rust or other staining often takes a
triangular shape. Sometimes real life looks too
extreme. Reproducing this example in a model might invite
criticisms of the weathering being excessive
weathering, but closely linked to it, is evidence of alterations and
repairs over the years - patches of slightly different brickwork or
repointing, replaced or filled in windows and doors, lines
showing where outhouses etc have been removed.
the builder who filled in this doorway go home and think to himself
"good job done" or does he still slit his wrists in shame every time he
archeological evidence of a lost outhouse or extension. All sorts of
different brick staing and marks where the flashing was. Note
also that the telegraph pole is weathered as well.
Difficult to reproduce in N scale
or 1/87 but if you are modelling in one of the larger scales this sort
of detail can be clearly visible from the sort of distance onlookers
An associated issue,
where many building models let themselves down, is that
buildings need to be bedded into the landscape they are part
of. I notice
this most on model railway layouts where many otherwise good structures
clearly built on a flat base plate and then sat down on top of an
surface. An often recommended fix for this is to construct a
sections of wall extending below the final ground level,
structure into a hole on the baseboard and then backfilling the ground
around the outside walls. Many of the examples in
this article also
show how important the ground and materials around the base of the
in giving a realistic effect.
you are from areas such as Holland or East Anglia a surprising number
of real buildings are built on some sort of slope - even if this is
foot or two from one side or from back to front. Allowing for
something more dramatic, can add plenty of detail interest - both at
the top and
the bottom of the model.
spotted this piece at the excellent, Brighton ModelWorld
exhibitiona few years ago. My first assumption was that it was an
interesting piece of scratch-building but I now think it may be a
commercial piece. There may be buildings in this state of
decay but on reflection the damage to the timber cladding seems an bit
overdone for a building still in use.
One other site you
might like to look at is www.gatewaynmra.org/structure.htm
where you will find an article on the Basics of Building Plastic
Structures by Richard Schumacher and Venita Lake, which includes advice
on weathering as part of the construction
process. While Googling may not always deliver what
you are looking for, the search combination of the
words model, weathering, house and structure will lead you to a wealth
of useful sources.
Just as a postscript,
do remember that buildings do not start weathered, they go through all
the stages of life from construction through new via weathered to
pavements and other ground surrounding buildings also suffer from
weathering and damage
modelling required for something only part constructed