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Simple techniques, simulating wood effects – Wooden planks and Rail Road Ties

In this step by step I will show an easy way to paint realistic looking wood effects using a German WWII rail car with a wood planked deck, as well as Rail Road Ties. This SBS can be applied to painting other wood such as fences, docks, old houses etc. I have also chosen to use only acrylics for this tutorial since it’s my preferred medium when it comes to painting and weathering.

As with any model it’s good to study reference images of the real thing and in this case we are surrounded by things made of wood that can be very useful for replicating them in model form. (reference images)

The painting

As with any model the primer coat is very important especially when creating wood effects on plastic. For this SBS I used Vallejo acrylic primers, IDF sand and a gray base coat primer, but we will concentrate only on the wood plank section. After priming the entire model in the dark gray base the IDF sand color was air brushed in very light coats, applying a second or third coat on various planks, a pre shade for the main colors to follow. This is very subtle as can be seen in (image 1) and can also be used as a sort of guide for the base colors.
The next thing to do is apply the base wood colors and here is where reference images come in handy. Depending on how old you want the wood to appear will determine what colors, or shades that you will use. For newer un-weathered wood orange-brown toned paints work best, and for old weathered and silvered wood we use gray-grayish green tones. Either way we need a base color and some darker and lighter shade of the base color so as to create shadows and highlights, similar to painting figures.

I decided I wanted to show both types and some in between for this tutorial and the Model Air range of paints from Vallejo more than enough colors to choose from (images 2). The following colors were used as base colors for the planking, varying each planks color with a different color and also mixes of the base colors.
- 71.121 USAF Light Gray (used to lighten base colors)
- 71.122 Desert Tan 686
- 71.023 Hemp
- 71.131 Concrete

Normally at this point a dark wash would be applied to bring out the wood grain and to show the gap between the planks. If we applied an overall dark wash at this point it would look like, well, a uniform dark wash, but don’t worry, we will apply washes. Instead we will fall back to another old school technique call dry brushing. I am quite sure we all know how this works, large short soft bristle brush with next to no paint drawn across the raised surfaces to create highlights. I used the dry brush with next to no paint and applied with very little pressure. The goal is to just barely lighten the raised grain which will help in the next step.

This is where the fun starts, enhancing the wood grain. As I mentioned before there are lots of color choices depending on how weathered we want the wood and so there are no set colors that should be used, your choice here.

To start with I selected Model Color 70.986 Deck Tan and Panzer Aces 70.324 Highlight French tank crew. Other similar shades from the Model Color and Panzer Aces range were also used. With the colors chosen I placed just a drop or two of one color in my mixing palette and thinned this with a drop of water, this is important. Using a #01 pointed brush and very little paint I applied the lighter color on the edges of the planks, but not all as we are not looking for uniform planking (images 3-4). I also started to pick out the raised grain and along cracks in the wood.

Don’t overdo this step with just one color, switch to other colors but saving the lightest color only for the edges and raised grain. The key is to apply very small amounts at a time of thinned paint in layers, allowing the previous layer to dry. Also move around when doing this step, not from one plank to another, switching colors so as not to make each plank look like the next. Any excess paint where too much was applied can be cleaned off or blended with a damped brush, but don’t wait too long as acrylics dry fast.

Once your happy with the previous steps, remember you can always go back and add more or do touch ups, it’s time for some washes, or rather pin washes and filters (images 5-6). Most people prefer enamel or oil paints do washes and filters but I prefer acrylics about 95% of the time, for the simple fact that it allows me to get more work done in the short time I get at the bench due to the much shorter drying time compared to oils and enamels.

The washes that I am using are from Vallejo and here I used three colors for the planks, Dark Gray, European Dust and Sepia wash. As with the paints we want to thin these washes so they are between a wash a filter and using small amounts at a time with a #1 pointed brush. I never use a very dark color or black on its own and prefer to mix colors trying to use a color similar to the base paint.

For the joints, or gaps between the planks I went a bit darker but also thinned the wash further with Vallejo Air Brush Thinner. Start by applying small amount into the joints with a fine tipped brush, letting capillary action to spread the pin wash. As you move forward applying this pin wash the previously applied washes will start to dry and when dry you can go back and a bit more until your happy with the result, remember the layers I mentioned before. If you add too much or just need to remove some of the wash you can do so using a dampened flat or pointed brush, or just blend it to the surrounding area (image 7).

If you find that the wood looks too gray, too dark or more weathered than you planned, simply repeat the earlier steps with Panzer Aces New and Old Wood colors (images 8). As with the previous steps seen in images 4 you want to thin the paint and apply it in small amount to random areas or to planks/boards that don’t have a rough grain and looks newer, or the other way round.

Conclusion: : It’s always good to paint planks, ties, wooden boards and even picket fences in varying colors so as not to appear too uniform and being passed over by the viewer. The techniques I’ve shown here are just a couple of ways of painting wood and is only a guide, or starting point and can then be improved or modified to fit your own painting style.

Categories:  Model Color, Panzer Aces
Date of publication: 12/05/2014
http://www.acrylicosvallejo.com/en_US/simple-techniques_-simulating-wood-effects-–-wooden-planks-and-rail-road-ties/blog/59 Simple techniques, simulating wood effects – Wooden planks and Rail Road Ties

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