Additional and expanded instructions
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Detailing and Weathering SierraWest Resin Castings - updated methods
by Karl Allison
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Advanced Weathering techniques for SierraWest Resin Castings
by Kevin O'Neill
Adding Texture and Details to Stripwood
by Brett Gallant
Step One, Graining the Stripwood
The wood siding on your model may be constructed out of individual strips of scale lumber instead of milled sheet wood for a more prototypical and appealing structure. The techniques presented here exploit the very nature of this type of board on board modeling. The way the wood is grained and weathered will determine the quality of your model and its overall appearance and age. Weathering stripwood involves first graining and detailing the wood. In this first important step you add realistic wood grain, knot holes, sawblade banding, splits, cracks, etc... as desired. Then the wood may be stained. (A video on my videos page provides an example of staining.) These techniques are quick and easy to apply. However, speed is not the goal. You never want to sacrifice quality for speed or carelessness. Don’t rush. Take your time, create a model you will be proud of, enjoy the process.
A great selection of wire brushes is essential for creating realistic, random texture. Brass and steel bristles each have their own unique characteristics. Purchase a variety and experiment with them. Available in many different departments at the local hardware store, each brush creates texture in its own unique way. Can't have too many of these in your drawer!
Texture plays such an important role in effective modeling yet is too often overlooked. It is fast and easy to create texture in all phases of construction including the wood, detail castings, and scenery. Creating a diorama with realistic texture throughout will tell a story creating a narrative about the various components age, the care or neglect provided, and their relationship to each other. If you look at wood (even new wood) it contains a tremendous amount of depth and texture. Wood grain, knot holes, splits, etc… all add to its overall appearance. Sun, wind, and rain takes its toll on wood and not only fades and peels any paint, but also enhances the woods natural texture. The older the wood, the more the texture will be visible. The tool used to add texture is a small wire brush like those pictured below. These brushes can be found at your local hardware store and can be purchased with brass or steel bristles. Both types can be used effectively and yield different results so buy several types and experiment.
Add texture by laying several pieces out and brushing grain into each piece. Move the brush in only one direction, as opposed to back and forth. Brush away from the hand that is holding the wood down. This will minimize splitting the pieces. You control the depth and amount of grain created by which of the brushes you choose to use, by how hard you press down, and for how long you brush. Use brass brushes with thick and stiff bristles for deep texture, steel brushes with fine bristles to create subtle grain. I usually start with a thick bristled brush and add an initial layer of texture then come back and finish it off with softer thinner bristles to layer the texture. You know you are pressing hard enough when you get a nice pile of sawdust on your table without breaking and splintering the wood. This graining technique is best when performed on a glass surface. Adjust the amount of pressure for smaller scales to add less texture. This process is fast and simple so experiment with different brushes to find a look that appeals to you.
Creating random wood grain in scale stripwood is simple with a wire brush. I don't like use a saw blade to create texture since the teeth add perfect rows of grooves in the wood. A quick swipe of the wood through a fine steel wool pad will remove any small splinters and get the wood ready for the next step, detailing.
Step Two, Detailing the Stripwood
Adding knots and knot holes, splits, cracks, saw blade marks, and enhancing the existing texture all play an important role in detailing the textured stripwood. That is not to say you would add all or even any of these details to every model. They should used judiciously to avoid creating a caricature. Very few projects will be weathered to the extreme as pictured below but this wall from the O Scale Rigging Shed provides the perfect illustration of the techniques presented here. It is simple to dial back the intensity of the details added to create a wall with just a hint of this type of character. Once the desired details have been randomly added, a light wash of rubbing alcohol and ink or alcohol and powdered chalk is applied to make the details pop. The type and quantity of details added to each project is very subjective so don't get caught up in "advice" from forum trolls who know everything after having modeled absolutely nothing.
This wall includes the details discussed below demonstrating just how effective they are at creating and telling an interesting story. Very few projects will justify this level of detailing but adding even a few select knots, or maybe a small split will add character and interest to an otherwise simple wall.
A wide variety of tools are used to create the details and can be found at any arts and craft store.
Knots and knot holes are the most common detail that can be added. A simple way to simulate a small knot is to create a shallow impression in the wood using a blunt round tool like the burnishers pictured above. These tools can be found with a variety of ball head sizes and are very useful. To create a knot hole, use the tip of a number 11 blade to drill small hole in the wood. The most effective knot is created using a toothpick. Drill a hole with your blade, insert a toothpick in the hole with a tiny drop of glue, then trim the toothpick flush with the wood. Since the toothpick is end grain it will stain differently than the stripwood and looks just like a knot. Try trimming the toothpick so that it sticks up above the surface of the wood a bit to simulate a knot that is loose and falling out. This technique works great in any scale by adjusting the size of the initial hole made as appropriate.
The toothpick knot hole is a wonderful detail as long as it is not overused. Add these type of dramatic details sparingly for the most realistic appearance.
Trim the toothpick with a pair of flush cut toenail clippers available from the drugstore. Once the toothpick has been stained it will look just like a knot. Enhance the wood grain surrounding the toothpick knot with a dull number 11 blade.
Saw blade marks or banding is created by stabbing at the wood with a single edge blade. Vary the angle and force for different looks. Cracks and splits can be made with your blade as well as running the tip of a dull number 11 blade through the existing grain to enhance it.
The scale wood pictured above has been grained and detailed exactly as described in this tutorial. The coloration is achieved using rubbing alcohol and powdered artist chalk as described in a video tutorial in my video section.
The real thing pictured above is the appearance we are striving to capture.
When all of the techniques and materials work together in harmony a kind of modeling Zen is achieved. That is my goal and job as a kit designer and manufacturer.
The beautiful O Scale Tool Shed pictured below was modeled by my dear friend Kevin O'Neill. The subtle range of coloration and wonderful textures were achieved using the techniques and materials presented here. Be inspired, stay active in modeling and improve your skills with each completed project. Set goals to learn new techniques, try new materials and tools, push yourself forward. Your mental health and modeling skills will most certainly improve!
One of he saddest modeling conversations I ever has was with the editor of a well known magazine who proudly stated he didn't want to put fine scale models like Kevin's on the cover as it would "intimidate" his readers. Bummer... Don't ever be intimidated by a talented modelers work, be inspired. I can guarantee you that the modelers you look up to were not born with a SierraWest kit in their crib! They practiced, experimented, dreamed, and achieved. You can too!
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