Staining & Weathering Tree Stumps with Doctor Ben's


This "Tips & Techniques" Blog article will be a more like “how I do it” than a “How-To-Do-It” and this technique works for all scales—Z to 1:1. As you get further into the instructions please try to keep in the back of your mind that this is a “layer” technique where things may look hideous at first, but as the process continues the magic just seemingly occurs. And yes, a copy of this "Tips & Techniques" Blog article is included with Scale Model Masterpieces Old Tree Stumps sets.

I sometimes use the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments (IWP) to paint and color tree stumps as well as rock work, scenery stains and washes, weathering and you name it. These products are very easy to use (no previous experience necessary) by using any household Isopropyl (70%) rubbing alcohol as the wetting agent or to turn the dry pigments into a highly tinted and colored liquid.

Begin by opening up the up the IWP container and with a small amount of rubbing alcohol in a separate container; first dip the hobby/craft brush into the rubbing alcohol and then in the Pigment. Next with the lid of the pigment turned upside down mix the two together in a swirling motion in the top of the kid. The really, neat usefulness of this design is that when you are done working at the end of the day, you simply screw the lid back on the pigment container. When you are ready to start working on your project again, you end up reusing the dried pigment left on the inside of the lid. I will share with you that I have had folks who use this same wetting technique, but on the outside, top of the pigment container. They say it helps them to know the colors better. I haven’t tried this yet, so as far as I’m concerned, the jury is still out.

There are numerous browns of the Doctor Ben’s Industrial Weathering Pigments to use for the bark. You can pick one that looks best on your layout or mix them up for a more diverse look. Also, you can apply a wash of Aged Driftwood (gray & faded) Rustic Oak (browns & yellows) and Natural Pine (green & mossy) to the colored stumps when you are done for a more faded, natural look.

Let’s Begin!

First, begin by removing the stumps and card from the package. Blue painters tape used with the sticky side up to hold the stumps right on the stump card for this technique. If the stumps are in too tight of quarters for you to work, then you can mount the stumps on an old box with the blue painters tape or even double sided carpet tape. And, if you are weathering stumps other than the Doctor Ben’s Natural Labstone stumps, I suggest that you consider washing the stumps in warm soapy water and allow them to dry over night. If you are in a hurry, you can use a nozzle on an air compressor or a heat gun/hair dryer to speed things along.

So, beginning with the stumps still attached to the tape (or however you do it), begin painting the stumps with a Dark Brown IWP using any sort of a hobby/craft paint or watercolor brush. It is not all that important that you cover every speck of the tan color used to cast the stumps. You should allow the tan to peak through the dark brown especially on the higher, raised surfaces.

Allow the dark brown color to set for 10 minutes or so (rubbing alcohol dries much faster than water) and then begin dry-brushing the raised bark surface of each tree stump with Doctor Ben’s Realistic Oak (#1081). This step will NOT turn the dark brown into a lighter oak color. But you will end up with a lighter shade of the dark brown. Once again, you are just after the raised surfaces, so use a dryer brush that when you were painting the base coat on the stumps. You can re-apply the Rustic Oak stain as many or as few of a number of times that you think that you need to. For wetter, damp forests, try using the Doctor Ben’s Natural Pine (#1082) either after/before the Realistic Oak or just the Pine all by itself. Just as a refresher of what you read in the beginning of this technique, this is a layering process and you will find as you begin to experiment for yourself that you can change the end results by just swapping the steppes of this process. Remember, this is more of a how I do it as opposed to a how-to-do-it.

Now, using the Doctor Ben’s Aged Driftwood (replacement for Floquil Driftwood) stain, use a small brush to apply some gray wash to the exposed resin areas. Depending upon how much that you shake the bottle of Aged Driftwood will determine how concentrated the stain will be on the stump. If you apply the Aged Driftwood and you think that it is too dark, just use a tissue and dab some of the Aged Driftwood away—it is that simple. Then if you need to add some but don’t want to add too much gray color, lightly dip your brush into the bottle and then dab you brush into the inside of the bottle lid to control the amount on the brush. Also, you can always use whatever paint is on the inside of the bottle cap and if it is too thick, add a little rubbing alcohol to think it out.


It is a good idea to create “highlights” on your tree stumps. The reason for this is to create the illusion that there are lighter areas on the stumps created by the sunlight and as well shadows. This helps increase the realism of the stumps and is not just for stumps either. Highlighting facial features, rock work, protruding details all create the look of depth and thus, increases the realism of the model.

Highlighting is very easily done. Begin by wetting the brush in the Aged Driftwood and then brush the excess stain off onto a piece of paper towel. Then, whatever little stain that remains on the brush will be applied vertically, from top to bottom on the stumps. If you already have designated position on your diorama or layout and you know which way is north, remember to point the more highlighted areas to the south. I have watched enough “This Old House” shows to know that the sun bleaches out the south and west sides of the houses and mildew and moss grow on the north & east sides of the house. So, I suggest you practice the dry-brushing technique first on an old junk model and then your stumps. Always remember, if you do not like the way the stumps turn out, just start over. These highly concentrated stains are not thick like hobby paints so the detail is not lose by apply another coat.

Also, you my not want to cover the brown color completely but if you find out at the end that you wish that you had left more dark brown showing, just apply some darker brown spots until you are happy.

Always remember that there is no such thing as making a mistake in weathering; they are just “opportunities.” If you have tried this and you liked it, let us know. If you did something different, let us know too! Happy modeling!

Lastly ...

The beautifully, hand-carved Old Tree Stumps (#SMM9361, #SMM9364, etc.) illustrated in this "Tips & Techniques" Blog article are just a few of the multitude of Old Tree Stumps easily found in our Scale Model Masterpieces Product Line. Most of these Old Tree Stumps were masterfully, hand-carved by our good friend and fellow modeler Scott Perry before he abandoned us in Georgia to move his family to SLC, Utah.

The techniques described here are only guidelines to help you to create the look you want. The important thing is to do it the way you will like it. The methods outlined here will take a little practice. Just jump in and try and don’t be afraid to make a mistake or two. Mistakes are only opportunities. You’d be surprised how many “mistakes” actually work.

FYI Pilot Model construction by Richard E. (Ben) Bendever and weathered using Doctor Ben's Weathering Stains, Solutions & Pigments as described in the kit instructions.