How much weathering?

Discussion in 'FAQs' started by MasonJar, May 9, 2003.

  1. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    This may seem like a silly question (it does - even to me!), but how much weathering is too much?

    I have been looking around the internet for pictures to guide me, and I have been very taken with a number of models inspired by George Sellios. The problem seems to me that while some of the scenes / structures are set in the 1910s and 20s (which is about right for my era) they are very heavily weathered.

    Does this seem like a problem? I mean, some of the buildings would date from the 1880s & 1890s, and therefore be only about 20-30 years old, yet they have been weathered to the point where they look like they would today (i.e. late 1980s - early 2000s).

    So it has taken me a while to get to this point - but how long does it take for, e.g. a metal roof to start showing rust? or for clapboard siding to start splitting? or roof tiles to start peeling? If the majority of my buildings are (or will be) late Victorian brick, or 1900-1920 wood construction, how much weathering should they have if my layout date is 1930? It is intended to be a small fictional town in Ontario, with no heavy industry, no ocean or large waterbody nearby.

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions!

  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    Not all structures need to be weathered the same - in real life the amount of weathering depends not just on age, but on degree of exposure to the elements, upkeep, etc., etc.

    I'd go for a little variety, with most structures moderately weathered, a few having almost none and a few heavily weathered. You can make up a "legend" for the latter ("Old Cletus never lifted a finger to keep that place up.").

    Also, not all parts of a single structure needs to be weathered the same. Maybe the last time a building was painted was 15 years ago, but the paint (or money or ambition) gave out half-way though, so some parts of it haven't been painted in over 30 years.
  3. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If you are modeling a steam era, relatively new buildings adjacent to the tracks may show a good coating of smoke. I have videos of #3751 on railfan trips with Santa Fe red and silver gp60ms providing helper service as well as dynamic braking, and the gp60's were clean and shiny going into a short tunnel, but black coming out! If there are any awnings that could trap smoke, the area under them would be especially dark. The same thing if there is any sort of grade with buildings adjacent.
  4. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member

    It seems to me the amount a structure would weather would depend on it's location, the amount of maintenace performed over the years, the materials it's made of, and what type o ffinish is used, intially and in maintaining the building. Sounds like endless possibilities. Bare wood rots pretty fast here at cobblers knob, and you can paint the South side of a building every four or five years if you use the 20 year paints. The North side lasts 4 or 5 times longer. I guess any amount of weathering would seem natural as long as it is varied from structure to structure. Some should look almost new, some ready to fall down.:rolleyes:
  5. RailRon

    RailRon Active Member

    One thing I noted in real life: As soon as a building isn't used anymore, it starts dying, somehow. Even houses which are never cleaned, painted or cared for stay quite well-looking, as long as somebody lives in this house.
    But leave the house, close the factory - and decay sets in! In a few months most windows are broken, planks are loosely hanging down, dirt accumulates in every corner, and grass and bushes are growing almost everywhere.
    With few exceptions, the grade of weathering in a group of buildings is more or less the same. You hardly ever find a brand new looking house among a group of decrepit shacks and vice versa.

    Andrew, I'll turn your question around: Use weathering to show if a house is alive and well - or not.
    If business in the factory is prospering, folks are happy living there - add only subtle weathering, a few streaks of rust and soot on a tin roof...
    On the other hand, heavy weathering with dislodged window shutters, broken planks on freight platforms, shattered window panes, and weeds sprouting everywhere suggest a run-down business, socially lowly quarters, a scene out of the 'living-behind-the-railroad-tracks' cliche.

    So you can also use weathering to tell a story about your structures...

  6. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Try observing the buildings where you live. Check out subdivisions that are 10, 20, 30 years old and see how they stand up. Take areas that stayed fashionable and some that aren't. Also remember that down by the tracks wasn't the most desirable location in town; that's why railfans get cheap housing. :D
    Also vary the landscaping -- some folks just don't do any; others cover the whole house. (John Allen planted fast growing bushes over his whole front yard so that he could skimp on the maintenance.)
  7. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Andrew, I think I know what you mean about many photos looking like they are over weathered. Some people don't like to weather at all, others tend to be a little heavy handed. The key to an overall scene looking "correct" is that the weathering should be subtle. I believe that in paticular many modelers of say 1920s era overdue weathering. Yes, coal smoke would coat everything nearby the tracks, but what I'm talking about is the tendency to badly cracked streets and sidewalks, when these would be relatively new. Sometimes it seems that 1920s equipment is being modeled as if it were in the 50s! A well done heavily weathered model can be a good focal point of a scene, too many such models and the scene becomes more of a caracature (sp?) Ultimately, it is whatever looks good to you that matters. If you think it is overweathered, it probably is. Something I've noticed when drybrushing is that it is difficult to tell when the desired effect has been achieved. I keep thinking that there is not enough contrast. Then there is too much contrast. Best thing to do is walk away for awhile and check it hours later, perhaps do that a couple times. I don't know why but you will see it differently then.

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