Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tuesday Tip: Making Styrene Look Like Wood

I know there are a lot of different techniques out there for making styrene look like wood, but this is one I got from a video by Brett Wiley over at HO Scale Customs. I came across the video by accident, but the end product looked good and at under 9 minutes it was worth the time to watch.

I had a plastic station house base that had simulated wood walkways, so once The Missus confirmed that I had paints on-hand that were "close enough" to what Brett used (being a little colorblind, I often rely on her eyes), I decided to give this technique a try.

I'm glad I did - it took some time, but the technique was quick to learn and, best of all, the walkways looked like weathered wood when I was done.

You can follow along in the photos:

I started by spray painting a flat black base coat, then masked off the walkways. I used 6(!) different colors to get the effect. As always, you can click on the photos to get a larger view - and, in this case, the names of the colors. I used all Apple Barrel craft paints that cost $.50/2oz bottle at Wal-Mart & arranged them here left to right in order of use.
The colors Brett Wiley used are listed at the end of this post.

The first color - "Melted Chocolate" - gets brushed on pretty evenly, though you should let some of the black show through. This is one time when brush streaks are ok.

***Important: When you're done with a color, be sure it's dry before you apply the next color or else you risk just blending colors together rather than having them look distinct. I used The Missus' blow dryer between each color. YMMV (Your Missus May Vary)

For the rest of the colors, you use a drybrush technique. Dip your brush in the paint, then wipe it off on a paper towel so that only a tiny bit of paint remains on the brush. To make sure I don't have too much paint on the brush, I'll sometimes do a stroke or two on the masking tape to be sure. I drybrushed the second color - "Chestnut" - in the pic above.
(and in the background, you can see the well-used paper towel)

The next color was drybrushed "Khaki". At this point, with a lighter color, the walkways started to look a bit more like wood.

The next color - again, drybrushed - was "Territorial Beige"

Then I drybrushed "Elephant Gray" (the grays really started making the wood look weathered)

Finally, I applied "Country Gray" - again with the drybrush.

And here's the final result! Whattaya think?
It was nice to have a "practice" piece to work on - especially one that already had "wood grain" cast in. Of course, if you're using plain styrene you'll need to scribe your own boards and grain. There are other videos out there that show you how to do that.

And, speaking of videos, if you want to see how Brett did it - as well as the different colors he used, but sure to click here to check out his video. And if you do, tell him The Valley Local blog sent you :^)

I hope you'll try out this technique and that it works as well for you as it did for me. I look forward to using it on a bunch of Central Valley wood fences I have to do (which, in fact, was what Brett used in his video).

I also used this technique to make the wood in a barn craftsman kit look like old weathered wood. But since it was my first time doing it, I'd forgotten to use the blow dryer between colors and ended up blending a few. It still came out ok (I'll post the build soon), but I won't make that mistake again.

So that's your Tuesday Tip! If you do try this out and find it helpful, I hope you'll let us know in the comments.
* * * 
Just for reference, here are the paints that Brett Wiley used in his video:
  • Americana Bittersweet Chocolate
  • Folk Art Honeycomb 942
  • Folk Art Steel Gray 2561E
  • Craftsmart Dark Taupe
  • Craftsmart Light Taupe
  • Folk Art Boulder 4624
He also used a #5 round course brush

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