It’s not all about dirt

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One common misconception among inexperienced modellers and sadly even in some sectors of the modelling press and business is that ‘weathering’ consists of a gratuitous application of dirt.

I have seen such horrors as a GWR tank engine that looked like a caravan that had been abandoned under a tree for three years and a diesel locomotive with a front end that suggested it had been used at a bog snorkelling meet!
Now people have to start somewhere with their skill level and I wouldn’t like to discourage a novice from experimenting, but these were being passed off in the media concerned as professionally weathered and I found that a bit troubling.

That’s why I increasingly box shy of the term weathering these days and increasingly refer to ‘effects’ and ‘texturing’. It is about much more than a crusty layer of brown paint (or black if you’re into niche wetland sports).

The model above is intended to illustrate that. Here we can see a coach that has received attention from the cleaners and has a nice, relatively gloss finish.
In spite of that there is still dirt in the door recesses, nooks and crannies into where the reach of a cleaner’s mop and rag might not reasonably extend.
Underframes on hauled stock rarely get any cosmetic attention once they leave works except for safety critical maintenance, so layers of dirt, oil etc will naturally gather there.
Likewise, vehicle roofs which are exposed to every kind of atmospheric and environmental effect from exhaust to rain and sun fading.
Some horizontal surfaces like footboards and cab steps will be scuffed and burnished. Other locations such as axle boxes will be coated with grease or oil.
That means that unlike many modellers efforts, there will be few genuinely dull and flat surfaces.

So, if you’re interested in creating your own effects, look closely at real life effects on full size pieces of machinery and vehicles. It doesn’t have to be a train for you to understand how it works. 🙂

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One thought on “It’s not all about dirt

  1. Rich Carding says:

    Excellent stuff as ever Dave – I might have to get you to do a spot of weathering for me at some point if you’re still up for it 🙂

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