Weathering Rolling Stock and Scenery Without an Airbrush

Lately I’ve been focused on completing the construction of the layout modules, laying and fixing roadbed and track, and doing all the under bench wiring soldering feeders to the bus… and the rest!

But for now I think I need to change gears for a bit and learn a new skill. This post will be a reference for future techniques I will use for weathering rolling stock and structures.


Between me and my father, we have a lot of toys… But we do not have an airbrush setup, and probably won’t have one for the foreseeable future… But that’s OK because there are great weathering techniques that don’t require an airbrush kit!


I believe my first weathering efforts I will be trying out a couple of main methods.

Acrylic washes will be one method.

Artist Chalks or Weathering Powders will be another.

Probably regular artist chalks will win out over pre packaged weathering powders for me though, for price and ease of customising the colour.

A big plus with the chalk / powder is that if you don’t like what you’ve done, you can just wipe or rinse it off and start again.

Method for Artists Chalks / Weathering Powders:

Cheap chalks from a local craft shop should do the trick. I’ve heard that some of the more expensive brands have more pigment in the chalk, so the colour may be better or stronger, but I’m not sure it will make that much difference… I can always test it out and let you know!

Scrape off some chalk with a small knife, mix and match different shades.

7 day pill boxes should be an ideal storage container for the powder.

Apply with a cheap small sized bristle brush.

Once the desired look is reached, put a light coat of flat clearcoat over it to lock it down.

Apply the clearcloat from a distance so it “mists” over the object. If the spray can is too close it may disturb the chalk.

Some of my US based friends have used a couple of sealing products. One called Dullcote, and the other was Krylon 1311 clear matte
… I’m not sure (yet!) of their Australian equivalents.

Method for Acrylic Washes:

Basic acrylic craft paints should make a good base for the wash.

A Brown wash should look make for a good rust effect. I’ve heard Nutmeg is a good colour, but will experiment with what is available at my local stores.

A light-ish Grey should do well to knock the colour back from the object and give it a sun-bleached, washed out feel.

Thin the paint with a large amount of water (50%? Maybe more… I will know more when I start to experiment).

Apply the wash from the top down, keeping the object its normal orientation – So any runs from the wash will be running in the right direction!

Also the bottom of the object should be a bit darker or dirtier looking. This is much more realistic.

For example, grime is more likely to be heavier on the lower third of a boxcar than the top third.

I have seen great results of both of these methods being used together. Acrylic wash first, then finer detail and highlights with Chalks/Powders. It will be something I will consider doing for sure.

Unfortunately the method is a bit lacking in detail. When I start weathering I will be able to give you the first hand knowledge! and maybe a video or two to boot!

I think I will start with a light grey wash over pretty much every piece of rolling stock, just to knock the factory shine off them and make them fell less toy like. Doubly so for the rolling stock in my fleet that needs repainting and their roadnames rebranded (but trust me, that is a project for another day… or year!) All I know is I can’t have them looking shiny and new! It would just look odd.


I hope this post inspires you to get stuck into a great 2 hour project, settle into the zone and get a couple of cars done while you’ve got the window of opportunity there!

Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day!

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