Doctor Ben's "How-To #3: Weathering & Painting Using Pigments"

Posted by on 6/13/2015 to Tips & Techniques

Doctor Ben's How-To #3: Weathering and Painting Using Weathering Pigments

The Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments are not just a powder or a chalk: they are the real industrial pigments, with polymer binder adhesives built in—that enables them to stick to anything. Really! Fortunately, when you are finished, the pigments do wash off your hands with ordinary soap and water (the foaming liquid hand soap works the best), but you might want to wear old clothes or a cover-up.

 Finishing Models/Scenes With Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments

I will try to keep this short, because, realistically, the process doesn’t take an hour from start to finish. The materials used for this project are as follows: a can of inexpensive flat black paint; one container of Doctor Ben’s Fresh Dry Rust Industrial Weathering Pigment (#1374); one jar of Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Weathering Stain (#1097); one jar of Doctor Ben’s Instant Age Weathering Solution (#1152); an inexpensive pump hairspray (if necessary); Sharpie® permanent markers in a few colors (optional); a short-bristled, soft, but stiff brush (the brush in the photo is a Floquil brush that has been cut off short); and a small container of water to wash out the brush (if you need to).

Step 1: Begin by rinsing the model or casting in warm soapy water and allowing it to dry overnight. After it is dry, spray the model or casting with a can of inexpensive flat black paint—in a well ventilated area or spray booth—and let it dry. (A 1:64-scale Pine Canyon Scale Models resin casting was used for this “How-To,” but any kind of casting will work.)

Step 2: Brush on the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigment with a burnishing action. Just keep scrubbing the pigment into the various cracks and crevasses, without being too neat about it. In this project, to simplify the process, I just used the Doctor Ben’s Fresh Dry Rust Industrial Weathering Pigment; and you can see that it looks good. However, if you use several of the various colors of Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments, the diversity of the colors will give even better results. You could use some of the lighter brown colors for the wood, but for this project, I will demonstrate another technique (shown in Step 4 and Step 5 images).

Step 3: NOTE: I typically skip this step, but there are folks out there who may have trouble using a “wet” process over a “dry” process without sealing the “dry” process first. With practice, you can skip this step, also.

I use cheap hairspray as glue (e.g. for attaching foliage to tree trunks), but I also use it as a sealing finish whenever sealing is necessary. I go to the local Big Box store and purchase the least expensive “pump” (so it is environmentally friendly) hairspray that I can find. Just as I have instructed in many clinics, I use this inexpensive hairspray as a sealer/activator to affix the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments to the model. Just spray the model and that’s it; the alcohol and lacquer in the hairspray physically seal the pigments to the model. Now, you might have to play with this technique a little, but don’t worry; you can’t get too much hairspray on the pigments. However, if you get too much hairspray on the unfinished casting (where you haven’t applied any pigment yet), you will see a slight sheen. If this happens, when you wash the junk pile with the Aged Driftwood Weathering Stain (in Step 4), just apply a thinned Aged Driftwood wash on the tops of the barrels to hide the shine.

Step 4: This step is the process of applying the Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Weathering Stain. First, shake the jar of Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Stain for just a second or two, depending on how thick you want the stain on the parts to be. The Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Stain is quite concentrated and can get too thick if you use the same bottle for some time. If this happens to you, just add a couple of teaspoons of rubbing alcohol to the bottle and shake very well; allow it to settle and check. If it is still too thick, repeat the process.

Now use your trusty burnishing brush to work the Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Stain into the nooks and crevasses, first to the sides of the wooden details and then the tops. Don’t allow the Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood Stain to puddle in a corner, or the stain might fill in the details. You can omit Step 5, finish here, and jump to Step 6. However, another option, if you omit Step 5 but would still like a little more detail, is to first paint the wooden parts with Doctor Ben’s Natural Basswood Weathering Stain (#1090), and then, after the Basswood Stain is dry, wash them with Doctor Ben’s Rustic Oak Weathering Stain (#1081).

Step 5: And finally, here is my big secret: I have an article around here somewhere about using Sharpie® permanent markers for detailing brickwork and coloring details. Yes, that’s correct; and the colors are permanent and will not fade over time. For this demonstration, I used a red marker to color the soda machine and a yellow marker to color the gas pump. I also used markers to detail some of the wooden boxes and the door, too. After you have enough color, proceed to Step 6.

Step 6: As I stated earlier, I rarely seal the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments. Folks are amazed at the amount of handling that some of the demonstration pieces get at hobby shows and how weathered they remain, without being sealed. However, I always finish my weathering by lightly spraying the whole casting with a mixture of Doctor Ben’s Instant Age Weathering Solution, diluted 50/50 with rubbing alcohol. A Doctor Ben’s Micro Blaster (#1490) is great for this job. This will enhance the details, especially if you have applied too much stain. This technique works very well, and it increases the realism of the model even under the poorest lighting conditions. Just spraying with the diluted Instant Age is a KISS (keep it simple silly) method—quick and easy and you are done with it.

Painting Brick Walls with Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments

Numerous techniques have been used to model realistic brick finishes. I have tried many of these techniques; and through using and modifying these methods and then discovering and/or creating the products in this article, I have devised the following technique. This process works for me because it is quick and easy and produces fantastically realistic brickwork. This technique will also work for stone finishes, but that is another article.

The materials needed for this process are several colors of the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments, a small cup of water or rubbing alcohol, Doctor Ben’s Worn Concrete Weathering Stain (#1095), Doctor Ben’s Instant Age Weathering Solution (#1152), a spray can of inexpensive flat black paint, a Doctor Ben’s Micro Blaster (#1490) or fine mister, and a brick structure. The tools needed are a razor knife, an abrasive pad, and an ordinary hobby/craft brush (1/4" round).

Step 1: This first step may seem mundane, but preparation is often the key to having a project turn out extraordinary (i.e. award-winning), rather than just good. I like to model “quick & dirty,”—but only after a proper preparation. Begin by rinsing the model or castings in warm soapy water and allowing them to dry overnight. Then inspect the parts very closely for flashings and/or casting bubbles/balls. Use a filler (e.g. Squadron Putty) to fill any voids or crevasses, and scrape excess flashings and casting balls from the surface with a razor knife. Use an abrasive pad to scuff the shininess off the molded surfaces. Brush or blow off the dust with an air hose, and spray paint all sides of the structure with the can of inexpensive flat black paint—in a well ventilated area or spray booth.

Step 2: Allow the flat black parts to dry thoroughly (which usually takes twenty-four hours—or one hour in the Georgia sun). Shake the Doctor Ben’s Worn Concrete Stain very well before opening, and generously apply (with the hobby/craft brush) the Worn Concrete Stain into the mortar cracks of the brick wall sections. Allow this to dry thoroughly. If you have the convenience of a bright, hot sun, you can use it to bake your mortar joints dry; alternately, you can try a heat gun or hair dryer to speed the drying process.

Step 3: When you are confident that the Doctor Ben’s Worn Concrete Stain is dry, you are ready for the next step. It may take me longer to write how to do it than it will take for you to do it, but here goes. Open the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigment that you would like to use as your base color. For this article, I used the Doctor Ben’s Quarry Stone Industrial Weathering Pigment (#1357). Begin by dipping the 1/4" round brush in the small container of water (or rubbing alcohol, if you prefer to work faster) to wet the brush.

Stick the tip of the wet brush about 1/4" into the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigment jar (or just enough to pick up the color on the tip of the brush). Move the brush over to a non-porous surface (I use the underside of the IWP product cap), and swish around to mix the water/alcohol with the IWP color so that it is mixed very well. Now scrape just a bit off of the brush. Drag the brush horizontally across each wall section (parallel to the direction of the bricks and no more than 3 bricks high).

This process is better done with the brush drier rather than wetter. If the brush is too wet, or if there is too much product on the brush, the color typically ends up running into the mortar joints. This is acceptable if the overrun is occasional and random. Any more than this may cause you to come back and refinish the mortar joints with the Worn Concrete Stain.

Step 4: Decide whether you want one brick color or more. There are lots of instances where a single color brick is used, so that is acceptable. If you elect to use only one color for the bricks, you can skip this step and proceed to Step 5. However, if you want more than one color, the second color can be added after the base color is very dry.

You can simply use another Industrial Weathering Pigment color for this step (there are nearly 60 Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments), or you could choose to try mixing a little of the pigment color used in Step 3 and another pigment color. For example, I chose to add a lighter, contrasting brick to the brighter red color by mixing the Doctor Ben’s Pebble Dirt Industrial Weathering Pigment (#1333) with the Quarry Stone Industrial Weathering Pigment—but not at full strength. I mixed the Pebble Dirt Industrial Weathering Pigment—on a non-porous surface—with just the reddened water/alcohol that I used for the Quarry Stone brick color in Step 3. I got a nice watery pinkish-tan from the mixture. Once you get the color you want, drag the brush in short, staggered strokes of about 3-5 bricks long and no more than 3 bricks high; but this time follow a jagged, random “X” (e.g. an old-fashioned computer-generated X) pattern. Again, this process is better done with the brush drier rather than wetter. This same technique can be used to add a third and even a fourth color; the choice is yours.

Step 5: After the walls have as much diversity of color as you want, it is time to randomly add individual bricks. Load your brush, as in Step 3, with another pigment color. Touch the brush tip to the face of random bricks, being careful not to get too carried away. I prefer these individual bricks to be one of the dark brown pigments, so I used Doctor Ben’s Durango Brown Industrial Weathering Pigment (#1338). It is helpful to have a few reference photos on the bench to guide your colors and placement.

When you feel that the structure has enough color, the easiest way to finish your model (and also tone down the red color) is to mix a solution of 50% Doctor Ben’s Instant Age Weathering Solution and 50% rubbing alcohol in a Doctor Ben’s Micro Blaster or fine mister and spray in random bursts over each wall section. The Doctor Ben’s secret here is to use this process to develop shadows on the undersides of the bricks, in order to create a greater definition. This effect is very easily accomplished by turning the wall section (or structure or vehicle, for that matter) upside down as you are spraying the 50/50 Doctor Ben’s Instant Age/alcohol solution. The final weathering residue ends up resting on the tops of the surfaces—which are actually the bottoms of the surfaces. When the wall or model is turned right side up after the solution dries, the remaining residue creates a slight shadow effect. This technique works very well; and it increases the realism of the model, even under the poorest lighting conditions.

Finally: If the structure/model will be handled a lot, a spray of inexpensive pump hairspray (try to use an unscented product) on the completed structure will seal the finish. Otherwise, you will find that the sealing process will not be necessary and that the final spray of the 50/50 Doctor Ben’s Instant Age/alcohol solution does a very good job of bonding the brick finishing products to the surface. I am not sure how or why, but from my experiences in using these products over the past twenty years, I just know that it works.

Comments for this Post

1 Comments

W Rusty Lane
Date: 4/14/2018
Very nice technique for weathering of brick with random colors. It seems that I learn something every time I read a blog on how to do a project. Thanks for posting.

Add Comment