Weathering is an area of the hobby that divides people, some like it and some don't. In American I see a lot of emphasis on weathering using a photograph of the prototype to follow, and copying it as closely as one can.
Not so easy to do with historical cars, as photographs are largely in black & white, but I also think that weathering is one area where we can flex our artistic and creative skills. So my approach is to weather in a way that simulates the real process, and to think of it like trompe l'oeil; making something that is not real, look real, rather than making it real per se.
I thought for this post I would try and talk you all through how I weather a freight car from start to finish.
Here is the car with a liberal coating of Games Workshop's Devlan Mud ink wash applied to all the places where dirt would accrue, this is the first stage of the weathering process.
Then what I do, once the ink wash has dried, is polish it off using a fiber glass polishing pen. I have three, all different sizes. I make the model wet with water as I'm doing this. Wetting the model gives me a good bit of control over the end result, and it also generates random effects, which I exploit to get the desired effect. In the above shot you can see a before and after the second stage polishing finish comparison on the roof.
Here is the model at the end of the second stage of my weathering process with all the excess wash removed.
I've done a lot of different weathering over the years, using an airbrush, weathering powders and now this wash and polish technique. The truth is that there is no one right answer, but what you do want is a weathering process that will produce a randomised finish, because in my opinion nothing looks worse than weathering that all looks the same.
The above photograph shows stage three where I have now applied another two washes. First Badab Black that is carefully applied to all the crevices and joints, followed by a liberal coating of Gryphon Sepia. Both washes again being games Workshop products.
Here is the car from the other side. I think it looks pretty good even as it is, and if it wasn't for the fact that this is meant to be a newish paint job, I think it could almost be left as it was.
Oops I've managed to break a handrail off, which I will have to fix later. You can see where I polished away a lot of the original Devlan Mud on the ends, which has now been blended by the application of the Badab Black and Gryphon sepia washes.
And here is a picture of the roof to show how it is all dirtying down nicely, with random wash effects simulating how rain would run off the real freight car.
Once the second lot of washes of the third stage have dried overnight I do a very light polish with the fiber glass brush to feather the edges of the washed with the original paint job as my fourth stage. Next I use weathering powders.
And looking at stage five I'm thinking to myself that there might be a few of you going "and then a miracle occurred", as I can't rightly completely explain how I got from there to here.
I know what I did. I applied weathering powders, first spraying some hair spray on the model to hold the pigments in place. Then I brushed off excess powder, and then I washed clean the model using windscreen wash (the stuff you use for car windscreens), and et voilà what you see appeared.
Finally, stage six involves drybrushing edge highlights to the model and the trucks just to make the paint pop, which you can see in the above photograph when you pay attention to the trucks.
Finally, a shot of the roof showing how the use of weathering powder has created the effect of dried cement on the roof. Oh yes, I sprayed Testors Dullcote over the model to seal it. All-in-all a nice weekend modelling project.
One final note. In this case I did have a picture of a similar car, but it was a fairly oblique three-quarters view, and of fairly poor quality. So I kept the photo at hand, but winged it as described here.