Needs Must

Or, how to make a weathered door number.

My new flat is not so new. It was meant to be ready to live in, but ready is a relative term. One of the missing items is a door number… so job one on the new workbench is a bit of signage.

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I started with a piece of Plastruct ABS which I guess is 80 thou in old money. I scored and snapped in the usual way and then started to round and distres the edges. Anything goes. Scalpel, sandpaper, files, rifflers, even cutters.

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I am making two signs. One for the fence to show where the path is, and one for the door proper.

Once I have a working shape, I treat the edges with a textured paint. In this case Wilder’s Light Europe Textured Earth. Golden do similar texture products, as does Vallejo, but not coloured. You could use any brown paint with sand and pumice mixed in but…. this is not your average acrylic. This sets very hard indeed. So much so that you will need to keep the lid thread clean or it will not be re-opening!

The idea of this layer is to get some basic texture onto the flat plastic and to set up a colour base.

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Next I went for a darker shade. You could do light first then dark, but I usually work the other way round for weathering. You will see why later.

So the next coat is Dark Rust Effect from Wilder. This is a solvent based paint, similar to the old Humbrols where there is sediment at the bottom. It needs a good mix but eventually it all comes together. The downsides are the usual – it is a bit smelly and does not dry quickly, but it is no worse than oil washes.

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Starting to build up a good rusty finish.

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Then we go lighter for layer three, trying to break up the colours and get that nice dusty effect. You can see which product I used…

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This is why I go light on dark, to get the broken colour and the misty corroded look.

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Some nice texture emerging.

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Next is just a finisher. A few oil washes to break up the colour a bit more and to add some highlight colour. Orange Rust is a fast drying oil by Wilder. You could use Burnt Sienna or similar. Applied as a very thin wash selectively.

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If it puddles like this just brush it out a little or spread with your finger.

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And leave the whole thing to dry overnight.

Next a quick look at how I made the stencil for the numbers. Normally I would choose a font in Photoshop, size it accordingly, and print out. But as I have no printer at the moment I hand traced and hand cut the stencil.

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Not perfect but as long as you are within the lines you can stencil easily and then tidy up with freehand brushwork.

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The final stage is to mask off the rust. I did this with latex rubber daubed on with a piece of kitchen scourer sponge. No rules here, whatever rust you want to see cover with masking. We are looking for random and granular, even though enamel signs of this type tend to rust in odd circular areas.

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Having masked up the rust, it is simply a matter of painting over everything in a rough resemblance of the original colours. Here I went for an off white and dark grey brown for the arrow part. I used Vallejo Silvergrey plus some brown, and Vallejo Black Grey plus quite a bit of dark brown. Because they were the only waterproof colours I had to hand…. I have Plaka too but they would wash off in the rain.

You do not have to be careful. Just cover the mask. It is probably better if you leave some thin areas and gaps.

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When dry, all that is left is to rub off the masking fluid, which leaves you with a blank canvas for the stencilling and lettering. At this point I have stopped but will probably tone the sign down a bit with an oil wash to give it some dirt and grime.

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Many thanks to airbrushes.com for the review samples and to Train Times of Eastbourne for the rest!

Mike Siggins

As an addendum, I recently purchased a similar product from Games Workshop. The bottle is half the size and costs more, but may be easier to locate. Either way these are products that the older modeller could only have dreamed of.

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