What to paint what?!?

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by Herc Driver, Nov 7, 2008.

  1. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    OK guys...I really need some help here.

    I'm painting Nscale DPM kits...quite a few of them...and so far I've been pretty bad at picking out the correct colors to pass for an exterior brick or mortar building. What combinations have you found look great together? So far, I'm painting them by hand, which really requires two coats. I've tried to get a basic brick shade and concrete or granite color for the window sills and facade highlights, but I really haven't liked the color combinations I've chosen. And I have no idea what colors were chosen for the model pictues shown on the DPM site. They're buildings look well planned and their color schemes look great...but I haven't been able to figure out their color choices.

    Additionally, do you find it easier and better to air brush the basic structures then go back and get the doors/windows with a brush? Or do you paint them by hand too?

    Any ideas will be a blessing 'cuz so far I've painted some marginally ugly combinations. - Thanks -
  2. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I would definitely prime the buildings first - airbrush (if you have one), brush paint, or spray bomb (my choice). If you use a "mortar" colour, you can then drybrush your brick colour on.

    My favourite recipe for brick colour when drybrushing a primed structure is one part red and one part forest green Dollar Store acrylics. I have also had success with pencil crayons, but they take a lot of work.

    The bricked-over windows and doors on Western Shipping were done with pencil crayon. The variation in colour comes from using two colours, and from the texture of the primer underneath - I think the paint was thicker in some areas, or dried differently.

    You can also try the reverse - painting the entire wall and then applying mortar. I would start with a boxcar red, and allow the mortaring and weathering to create variation in the brick colour.

    Lastly, mortar can be almost any colour - from some contrasting colour (e.g. yellow brick with brown mortar) to "standard" brick colour (i.e. matching) to bright white.

    Good luck!

  3. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    Depending on what the model wall is made of, this sometimes works:

    1. spray mortar color as 'primer.'

    2. over spray with desired 'brick' color.

    3. using fine-pointed instrument - pin, dental tool, etc. - scratch lightly along mortar lines, revealing mortar color underneath.

    This works beautifully on walls and structures made of cast plaster or gypsum, and stone walls carved from thin sheets of drywall. I have seen it used successfully on plastic models as well.

    Query: aren't the mortar lines going to be almost invisible in N-scale?

    I'm interested because I am designing a set of buildings made of ashlar cut stone blocks from "the local stone quarry" for my layout, and the issue of mortar lines has been somewhere in the dim recesses of my mind.:cool:
  4. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Great technique ideas guys thanks.

    The mortar lines in Nscale are almost invisible from a foot away, but a technique I used to highlight them is (after painting the base brick color) to use drywall compound skim coat, allow to dry, then remove with a dry cloth. This way, you get a very fine mortar line, and based on how hard you rubbed the skim coat off, you get an uneven appearance.

    My problem is the actual color selection...since the kits are already a light brown, some of the red colors I've used are drying darker than expected. I've lightened them up a bit with chalks, but they're still too dark.

    I just haven't found the right color shades that coordinate (which is why my wife picks out the paint for inside our house). But since she doesn't go with me to the LHS, I'm on my own for picking colors.

    Does anyone know the colors DPM uses? Or, what colors do you suggest? I've tried some Hull Red, Earth Brown, Green, Sienna, and none of them really look accurate. What colors are everyone else using?
  5. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    If you think it is the colour of the plastic that affecting the final finish, try a light grey or white primer (both of which work well for mortar lines too ;)).

  6. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Good point - and logical too - I should have thought through this better.

    I'm really hoping to get these buildings painted, but the reality is, it going to take a while to paint them right. I should simply air brush them, applying the base color first, then go back and hand paint the windows/doors. Which means I'll have to get out the air brush and learn how to use it, practice, then give it a try on the buildings. I hope the airbrush will put down the paint in a more even manner than my hand brushing does.

    But I'm still looking for a good selection of coordinated colors. The color selection at my LHS is geared more towards model airplanes, cars and boats than trains and buildings. I've bought many colors that I thought would look good together, only to paint them on the building and realize they didn't really coordinate well. I've got quite a collection of browns and reds now.
  7. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I'm a little :confused:... Are you looking for brick colours to coordinate with mortar, or "trim" colours that coordinate with the brick? Either way, I would not worry. There are so many combinations in the real world that it does not matter what you choose...

    A great site to start on for prototype photos is www.forgotten-ny.com. It also has a ton of links to other similar sites with more pictures than you'd even care to look at if you had 29 hour days... ;) :D

  8. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    I'm a fan of "neutral" primers for this very reason - the colored plastics that make up many models can easily affect what you see when the painting is done. This was a major problem with fantasy modeling, which relied heavily on all sorts of "found" scratchbuilding material with a wide range of color already molded in.

    Good trick with the "scratch coat" idea! I should have thought of that, after having done exactly that after grouting tiles. Your idea belongs in the "tips and Techniques Master Manual".

  9. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    I'm sorry to confuse...What I'm looking for is a good general brick color, not over poweringly "red", more like a faded out brick, and a good concrete color for the accent areas typical of DPM kits. The "aged concrete" color that I have now with my Railroad paint kit from Testors/Floquil is way too yellow when painted on the DPM buildings. So far, I haven't found the right red. I can get close to the correct concrete color using some "grime" colors, but was curious if others have found a good color that really works well. It's the building color that I really need...a brick red that looks like it aged about 40 years...hope that clears things up.
  10. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man Active Member

    For aged brick, you might start with pink and darken it gradually until you reach the shade you desire, perhaps using brown and a little red. Long-exposed brick in Colorado tends toward pinkish tones after a while due to the ferocious ultraviolet at altitude.

    As for concrete, an airplane modeler I knew had the same problem when modeling a square of runway on which to exhibit his latest aircraft model. He began with a washed out gray and added a tiny touch of blue-violet, which for some reason gave exactly the right shade or old, long-exposed concrete. The "runway" was poured plaster of Paris, as I recall.

    Don't know if any of this helps, but it's yours to consider.
  11. eightyeightfan1

    eightyeightfan1 Now I'm AMP'd

    Just a thought here.
    Unless the buildings were being built at the same time, the color of brick would be different color red. Different brick manufacturers use different forumulas when making their bricks, hence, one brick manufacturer's brick, would be a different red from another. Some manufacturers bricks could even be brown, or a light tan.
    Also, the age of the building would also determind the color. An older building may have a more faded weathered red, then a newer one.
    With this in mind, painting your buildings in different reds, tans and browns will give your buildings a variety, a different time period built and the preference of the contractor building the structure. You don't want to paint your buildings a bright redd such as Soo Line Signal Red, though a building's owner could of painted it that color during renovations.
    Here's a pic of three different color red bricks, on one building.

    Attached Files:

  12. doctorwayne

    doctorwayne Active Member

    A lot depends on where the bricks were made - in many towns, all of the buildings are made with bricks of the same colour because the local brick works used the clay available in that area. Nowadays, brick can be brought in from any place in the world, but at one time, it was a very regional business, especially in smaller towns.
    I've found Floquil's (PollyScale's version would be better if you're brush painting) reefer orange works well. The city where I grew up, Hamilton, Ontario, had lots of orange brick structures, so this colour really strikes a chord in my memory.
    Also remember that your choice of mortar colour will greatly alter the finished appearance of the brick - white (high lime content) was very common in earlier days, but almost any earth tones, including black, have been used.
    I've also used the drywall compound technique that you described - you can use water-based paints to tint the compound before application, although it takes quite a bit of paint to make a noticeable difference. Artist's tube acrylics might work more effectively. I don't use a clear finish after the mortar work and have found that a wash of thinned PollyScale paint can be applied over the walls without removing the mortar, as long as brushing is kept to a minimum. Obviously, airbrushed weathering can be applied, too.
    Here are some buildings done with Reefer Orange bricks:



    I'm not sure what colour was used on this one, but it was probably based in Floquil Boxcar Red or Zinc Chromate Primer - I almost never use a colour without adding some other colour to it. This structure got no mortar treatment, just heavy washes of black or dark grey.

    For stone sills and lintels, light buff or grey tones will work, depending on the type of stone used - add a little of your basic brick colour to the mix to tie the two colours together and to make the contrast between them less jarring.
    Also, keep in mind that the fronts of many of the DPM structures represent iron front buildings, which can be painted to represent stone or painted in contrasting "trim" colours.

  13. Herc Driver

    Herc Driver Active Member

    Those buildings and pictures look great and thanks for the color recommendations...I appreciate them. I'm going to try to lighten the Hull Red I'm using now and see what that does...and hopefully, I'll use an airbrush this time to apply a thin coat.
  14. Freelancer

    Freelancer Member

    I rather enjoy assembling buildings, but picking the right colors would have to be my least favorite part, and probably the most time consuming for me as well. A color that I was quite pleased with is Delta Ceramcoat Autum Brown. It came out quite plain and darker than I wanted, but after adding some mortor I was really impressed with the overall appearance.

    I added motar much like explained above using joint compound and wiped most of it off after letting it sit for a little while, but before it dried completely. Then after it dried completely I went back over it with a moist paper towel to clean the surface of the brick and help tone down the whiteness. It would still come out too whitish so I lightly airbrush the base color to help tone it down, and bring more color back to it. Here is how it turned out on my transfer building.

    Also some random accented bricks help bring more color and detail to it. Or at least I think it does.

    Attached Files:

  15. ocalicreek

    ocalicreek Member

    A neat tip I read somewhere for painting the windows & trim on DPM buildings is to use a chisel tip or fine tip paint pen or paint marker from craft stores. I've never tried it but thought I'd share anyway. Please let us see your finished product when you get there.

    I personally like an orangey-red, and will usually paint on a base color, dry brush an accent color, apply a mortar of some sort then go back again with the accent color if necessary. Also it depends on the relief of the brick casting as to how heavily I dry brush.
  16. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    A trick I used on a DPM brick building was to take an off white acrylic paint and thin it to a wash with distilled water. I then sprayed the white on the brick plastic let it sit a few minutes and carefully wiped the white off. I did this before construction with the walls laying flat on the bench top. The thin wash flowed down into the mortar lines and left just enough of a coating on the bricks to dull down the plastic shine. I used craft store paints for the mortar since the price is a lot less than Floquil at the hobby shop. After the paint dries, you can touch up individual bricks or sections of brick if you want to. I've noticed some of the old buildings in Vernon and South Central Los Angeles have individual bricks that look to be burned black and even irregular like they have been in a fire. I don't know if these buildings were built with used brick or if for some reason the sun burned individual bricks that might have had a slightly different make up than the surrounding bricks.

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