As each passes, I can see how military modelling is slowly taking a hold on my approach to painting, detailing and texturing. I used to think like a railway guy: slap the accurate color on the model, wash some dirt over it and hope for the best. And truth to be told, it rarely works. Skilled train guys know layering effect is the only way and they do add a few other washes and layer to build up the effect. However, I feel we always miss the obvious: fading and applying filter to the color to get it closer to reality and not what was in the paint bucket back in 1978, and texture.
The snow plow project is a real eye opener and it changed a lot of thing for me, so when I went to the layout recently and saw my sad attempts at painting grade crossing protection gates in yellow, I thought it was time to revisit it.
After a careful examination of prototype pictures, the plastic gates were painted in a very faded yellow, Then, I drybrushed the edges with off white to give more of a 3D effect to the paint. With a very light white wash, I then dabbed some areas to create more fading.
Then, using a very fine brush, I added rust and dark brown spots here and there to replicate paint chipping. These must be kept as fine as possible to not look like a caricature. Very fine paint chipping goes a long way. When everything was dried, I used a thinned down dirty gray-brown wash and applied it lightly to blend everything together. With a fine brush, I picked up all the corners where dirt would accumulate. Finally, a light dusting of dark earth PanPastel was applied at the bottom of the posts to blend them with the surrounding ground.
The parking lot staircase was done in a similar fashion. However, with the help of real exterior staircases photographs, I dabbed several layers of brown and rust colors on the stair threads and walkway. It was followed with light gray washes to blend the effect with the rest of the staircase. Finally, using a HB pencil, I applied graphite all over the places where shoes and boots polish the metal. It is an extremely effective way to replicate bare metal. Much better than metallic paints and very subtle. I think this technique will be useful when weathering open hopper interiors.