Preparing for the overhaul...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Weathered Effect

I've been working on some individual components for a project that requires a very old, weathered look, and thought you might be interested in how I'm doing it.  If you want to follow along, the materials you'll need are pretty simple and inexpensive.  An initial investment of less than 50.00 USD will last you for many, many projects to come.
  1. A small stripping brush; this is the one I use.
  2. India ink.
  3. Acrylic craft paint.  In this project, I used two colors, both from the "Americana" line: cocoa, and dark chocolate.
  4. Sanding sponges (medium and fine).
  5. Water-based matte varnish.
This is one of many different aging or weathering techniques you can use.  I like this process, and these materials, because they're very adaptable.  So what you want to do is...
  1. Paint your entire item with the base coat (in this case, slightly diluted "cocoa").
  2. Apply two coats of water-based matte varnish, allowing ample drying time in between.
  3. Sand your item until it's smooth, allowing for lighter areas to appear naturally.  This process will begin to simulate the natural aging and weathering process: the sticky-outy areas get the most abuse.  Ideally, your item should be very smooth to the touch before you begin using advanced weathering techniques.
  4. Now, go to town on your item with your stripping brush.  Depending on the final effect I'm trying to achieve, I often repeat this process several times as I apply new washes.  The more care you take with this step, the more depth you'll achieve.

This is the finished door, on the exterior side.

This is the finished door on the interior side.  As always, you can click on the picture to see a larger version.  The first thing to keep in mind--obvious as it is--is that different areas of a door (or anything else) weather differently.  The principal reason so many "weathered" miniatures look unrealistic is that weathering has been very uniformly--and thus unrealistically--applied.  Before you start, think about where, in real life, your item would be weathered.  Here, both sides of my door are very aged, but the exterior side has obviously been exposed to the elements to a much greater extent.

The first step is to cover your item with a wash of your darker colored paint.  I like to apply my wash in small areas and wipe it off.  To make the inset panels stand out, I painted them with only very slightly diluted "dark chocolate".  I also painted the sides of the panel frames.

The next step is to apply a wash of India ink.  I usually add two drops of ink to every inch of water in my mixing cup, but you can play around with your own mixture.  I paint the ink wash on, and immediately rub it off.  The idea, here, is that the ink wash settles in the cracks.

I only added an ink wash to the exterior side of the door, which is why it's so much darker.  I wanted to differentiate between inside and outside.

I achieved this effect by alternating washes, sanding slightly in between and using my wire brush several times.

Cracks and dings add interest.  I also wanted the kick board area to look really gross.  This is a well-used door!

The threshold is very worn, also.  I sanded it down quite a bit, so the curve (from thousands of footfalls) is quite obvious.  Here, I added a stronger ink wash to simulate really ground in dirt.

Not exactly a candidate for Good Housekeeping!

Are there any weathering techniques you especially like?


Sierra said...

Your work is amazing! I still can't believe how lifelike it looks :-)

Blogger said...

I have just downloaded iStripper, and now I enjoy having the sexiest virtual strippers on my desktop.