04 August 2020
Phil Parker shares a method for creating realistic rust, often used by military modellers.
The technique I'm using for this project isn't new. It's just that we don't see many people using it in the model railway world.
Head over to the land of plastic kit modelling and you'll find hairspray weathering and salt chipping employed on nearly every model in any magazine or at most exhibitions. They have been doing it for years and yet cross-fertilisation with our hobby seems very limited.
This is odd, because we need to model rusty metal as often as anyone else, it's just that we have developed different techniques, some of which are now being copied by other modelling disciplines.
Hairspray rust effects are pretty simple. Paint the model a nice rusty colour and let it dry. Spray a few thin coats of normal hair lacquer (I had to buy some specially for the job as I don't have enough hair for a style) over everything and once this is dry, paint the top coat. Spraying is preferred for this step, although with care you can apply the paint by hand.
To expose the rust, simply wet the model. Water will find its way under the paint to dissolve the hair spray and cause the top coat to flake off. The best effects come from scrubbing away or scratching the surface with brushes and soft implements.
With a little practise, realistic patches can be worn away in a few minutes. Pay attention to those areas where the prototype loses its paint and you'll have a good looking model in minutes.
My prototype is a steel shipping container. These things can be bought for small amounts of money once they have finished their lives carrying goods around the world and are popular as storage sheds either on their own or in large groups for storage yards. My model is the former, simply because they tend to be a bit more beaten up and rusty.
Once you've got the hang of the hairspray technique, you'll be looking at all sorts of rusty metal on your layout.
I quite fancy having a go at some mineral wagons for a start...
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