Weathering Using Chalk (I'm lost dah)

Discussion in 'Weathering Forum' started by Jeffs_Railroad, Jan 31, 2007.

  1. Hi, my wife decided I should weather my trains. Started by buying chalk in the rust colors. Only adviced I got was use a brush and experiment. I am turning to you pros to give me some advise or point me in the right direction. I have an freight car that only has the shell so I figure that would be a safe start. Your help is appreciated.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    That is a good place to start, and believe it or not, that's good advice too...! ;)

    Create some dust by scraping the chalk with an Xacto knife (or even a cheap boxcutter) held perpendicular to the chalk. Using a realtively big feathery brush, mix some colours, and dust them on your model. Use a smaller brush for more isolated weathering, like rust streaks.

    Chalk can be fixed in place with an overspray of DullCote or other matte finish. It will unfortunately diminish the effect as well, so you may need multiple coats to get the look you want.

    Some prototype pictures from the era you want to model will be helpful. Since cars are built, overhauled, and repainted on occasion, you also want to weather some more heavily than others. For example, in the time I model (1920s and 1930s) labour was relatively cheap (especially in the Depression), and "boxcar red" was abundant, so wooden cars got a paint job once in a while. Passenger cars, locomotives, and cabooses were kept in good order and mostly very clean. Compare this with the current era of aging metal boxcars that are left to rust, and intermodal containers that are easier to replace than to maintain.

    A good site for photos is

  3. Hi Andrew, I appreciate the advice. I printed it down and will give it a try over the weekend.

  4. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Chalk is a toughy, as the dullcote effectively halfs its darkness. You have to layer it to get it looking great (trust me, I'm chalk weathering a gondola right now...). Go slow, with fine layers, dullcote'ing between.

    Also, for some "depth" to the chalk, basiclay to make flaky rust chips, try using a brush dipped in hairspray, then roll it in the chalk, before dabbing it on the model.
  5. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Jeff -

    I'm a chalk man myself - only because I still don't feel comfortable using alcohol washes or dry painting. When you use the chalks, experiment with the colors based on whatever the base color of the car/engine is. To explain better...I found that using yellow and white on a black boxcar looked (to me) more like the sun's weathering and yellow mixed with a rust gave a nice rusty appearance. While white and light grey made a maroon boxcar look sun weathered. Sometimes, it will surprise you which color looks best on a certain color of car/engine so don't be bashful, experiment with several colors till you find the shading you'd like to emulate (if you're using a prototypical picture for reference). Just don't use anything to "lock in" the color till you're happy with the results. Since I model Nscale, to me it has been easier to weather using chalks rather than paints due to the smaller size. The big plus is that I don't get any brush strokes using chalk that stick out on my tiny Nscale cars. Here's a picture of what I mean. All three boxcars were bought the same day - just weathered differently. The car on the right is not weathered, the middle car slightly sun bleached and the one on the left is more weathered and rusted. (I'm by no means an expert at this...this was my first real attempt at chalk weathering.) You can also weather the couplers with rust - makes them look good. An airbrush is probably the absolute best for weathering (I don't have one yet) but short of that...I use chalk.

    Attached Files:

  6. jbaakko

    jbaakko Active Member

    Actually Herc, you'll find that the "master weather'ers" don't use an airbrush much.

    Weathering powders (not chalks) with hair spray, & gouche seem to be the normal products now. Check out:

    I'm a member there, and I've learned allot, and continue to learn even more.
  7. Josh & Herc, appreciate the input.

    Herc the box cars look go to me.

    As an side, I went to Northhaven, CT, CSX yard and took some pictures of rolling stock Box and tanker and 3 GP40's that happened to be there. As soon as I get time, I will let you know what happens (maybe a photo). It will probably be a while before I get to weathering.

    Just thought about if i do not like how it came out, how do i remove the chalk?
  8. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Removing the chalk is easy - just wash it off. But do it before you fix it with DullCote. The only way to get it off after DullCote is to strip the car...

    If your cars don't get handled too much (i.e. they stay on the layout most of the time), you might not need to fix the chalk. That means you can change it later if you're not happy after all... ;)

  9. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I found the chalks excellent for weathering the buildings too - water/rain marks, A/C run off, old worn paint, dirty roofs, dirty concrete just to name a few. I really like using chalk on roads and on vehicles - espicially truck exhaust stacks where it hits the trailer and some gray on the wheels and mud/dirt around the wheel wells to take off that new plastic shine. Also, I apply a touch of yellow on the top of the tree/foliage (I learned that from a Joe Fugate article) to highlight the tree leaves. You can use it to subtly change the shading of grass or add some clay highlights to an exposed hillside (very common here in Nor' Carolina). Use it on track ties, dirty up ballast with spill/drip/leak marks too. Ah...I think I better stop some point I lost control of this reply. Before I's a quick picture of an SP GP60 using the "Deano-Method" of only weathering the trucks and fuel tank. I also touch up the couplers with some rust colored chalk too - I think it makes the couplers look much better. And best of all, I can wipe it off and start again if I don't like it or improve my Nscale weathering technique down the road.

    Wait a minute...seal the chalk with hairspray??? That's an interesting idea that I've not heard before. I'll check into that one.

    Attached Files:

  10. MasonJar, thanks, sometimes I get involved in the details that I do not see the obvious. (LOL).

    Herc, nice work, hope I could do have as good. Your recommendations are written and will be taken. Thanks.

  11. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Thanks Jeff,

    Visit for a match to the engine your thinking about weathering and try to mimic what you see. You can dab, brush, smear and just about any brush stroke in between and get some interesting effects. As a minimum, I try to weather the couplers, trucks, on every piece of rolling stock. On the diesels, I weather the couplers, steps, hand rail areas that your be frequently grabbed, and the fuel tank - highlighting a fuel spill area and the dirt that would accumulate there. That way, none of my chalk weathering would be touched by my hands - since the shell is untouched - and be undisturbed. I sorta like my diesels to look used but well cared for, and I've noticed from pictures that even the cleanest of diesels still have some rust on the couplers and wheel/truck areas.

    Also, any lettering on rolling stock will tend to run down the sides and fade- white lettering espicially. Mud/dirt splashes up, rain washes the dirt down from the top, the sun bakes and lightens everything, and there's almost always rust anywhere a hand or foot touches. Anything that moves like a hinge/door/wheel will have wear and rust marks. And the ends of the cars will tend to have more dirt and grime than the sides. One of these days I should take a clean diesel or boxcar and take progressive chalk weathering pictures to show the build-up of color and effect. By no means do I consider myself a master at this technique, but it takes only minutes to make a big change to almost any piece of equipment and it's really pretty easy. For some really great weather'ers visit the websites that specialize in weathering and super-detailing cars/engines. I'm always amazed by their results and try (I emphasize try) to emulate their work.

    Go on...give it a try and post some pictures!!!
  12. Thanks Herc will give a try.
  13. Fluesheet

    Fluesheet Member

    So I'm curious; doesn't the dullcote or hairspray blow the chalk off?

    Herc, how do you clean the chalk off? Brush (or maybe air)?

    Good stuff. I keep forgetting I want to try this until a topic on it pops up.
  14. Torpedo

    Torpedo Member

    Thanks for posting that link. I just took a look, and the work there is stunning. :thumb:
  15. KCS

    KCS Member Go there and sign up for the forum and follow the directions for getting a security code and password from Rich. This is the best place there is on the net for weathering. Your jaw will drop in amazment.

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