If you are striving for realism on your layout, weathering of structures and rolling stock is probably on your agenda. For the moment, let's not consider the weathering details such as drips, streaks, dents and rust spots.

Instead, just consider the overall dulling and bluing of colors necessary to convey a sense of distance between the observer and the layout. Usually, this is accomplished by over-sprays of graying and bluing colors applied with an airbrush, by washes of ink/alcohol mixtures, by weathering chalks, or by a combination of these.

The trouble is knowing when to stop. It is very easy to overdo the effect and end up with a really drab, colorless scene or model.

Using photos is one way to judge what degree of overall dulling looks best to you. Take a photo of the scene or model to be weathered and make a few different versions of the image using your editing software.

Photobucket and most other photo hosting sites offer color saturation as one of their editing options.

Here are three versions of a scene with decreasing color saturation.









Do this with a number of photos, and you will begin to get a sense of just how much dulling appeals to your tastes. Remember that weathering is very subjective - one man's perfectly weathered model may look drab to another.

By the way, the actual scene on my layout looks to be somewhere between the first two photos in real life. I boosted the saturation slightly in the first photo.

Just an idea for discussion. Wink Smile

Jim
Original Post
Excellent observation Jim, and I agree 100%. Weathering is easy to over-do.

Remember that most weathering techniques can be applied in very small increments. This gives you the ability to weather an object a very small amount, place it on your layout and look at it within a variety of lighting conditions, and see how you like it. Not weathered enough? Apply another very small amount of it, and place it on the layout for another week, watching it under varying conditions.

You can always add more weathering to something, but it's generally much more difficult to "un-weather" it. It's kind of like baking something, in that sense... Smile

(Great scene, btw Jim!)

John
My son and I often discuss the degree of weathering. At one point every 1:1 structure is new and not weathered. In real life, only Disney World seems to remain that way. I lean toward a layout where the buildings and trains look new. My original plan was to put the tracks on indoor-outdoor carpet and toss on a few plasticville buildings and run trains.

Then my son started in on me and I agreed that more detailed scenery would add a lot to the layout. So, I've been carving foam, doing washes and the results have been satisfying. Now he is after me to weather things as he has done on his layout. I'm not so sure I want all of my layout to look drab and industrial, but I will be painting my plasticville buildings to make them more realistic.

So, the degree of weathering (or whether to weather at all) is a very interesting quandary. My current plan is to start with almost everything looking like new. But my original plan was indoor-outdoor carpet, and now I'm scenicking cliffs, mountains and a farm area, so who knows where things will wind up eventually. Originally, I wanted everyting done quickly, now I'm enjoying all of the detail work. Constructing a layout, like life, is a journey and the most important thing is to enjoy the trip. If you do something you don't like, just do it over!
My main objection to weathering is not on any individual model but rather the whole scene. For an example lets say you want your layout to be sometime in the 40's. That's a pretty busy time for railroads and the country in general. So on your layout anything made in 1940 is going to be NEW unless its an industrial piece in which case it might be dirty from the use BUT the colors will still be bright. If its a vehicle or whatever from the 30's it might be showing signs of wear. Buildings from the thirty's will NOT be ramshackle falling down shacks but only 10 or 15 year old structures. Structures from the teens might be showing heavy wear but even they are still relatively new. Any road NOT dirt will be almost brand new. Just some of my observations regarding weathering. If you are using pix from today to set your weathering for a steam era railroad, you might just want to rethink a little bit of it. My 2 cents! Smile Russ
Those of us with "old-school hi-rail" layouts that mix realistic scenery with pre- or postwar accessories face a special dilemma. It doesn't seem right to properly weather or otherwise modify scarce old items, and anyway, they have their own personality. But making them blend in with the rest of the layout without doing so can be a trick. I tend to follow the rule that anything that can be undone is fair game. So, I often submerge clunky bakelite bases below grade,add lights and glass to empty windows, build wooden shells around toy-looking superstructures, etc. I've experimented a little bit with weathering plastic and painted surfaces using chalk, under the assumption that I could just wash it off. Hard to do well, though. I also try to design my scratchbuilt structures to kind of "split the difference" between the toy look and realistic aspects of the layout.

I'd love to hear the experiences of others doing this style of layout.

--pete

 

 

My heart is warm with the friends I make, 

And better friends I'll not be knowing;

Yet there isn't a train I wouldn't take,

No matter where it's going.

                        Edna St. Vincent Millay

 

My opinion guys.

As I noted in my layout article in Run 255, I do not weather any locomotives, rolling stock or die cast vehicles. I may weather my buildings and track to some degree but then I mix in tinplate and a few Lionel operating accessories. So, I agree a little with Pete. I can also side with Jim and the others. I use the Adobe Photoshop program “Lightroom” to edit a lot of my photographs. I guess you can say I play with the color, white balance, texture and “weathering” on the computer instead of the layout.

My tastes vary way too much to stick with one scheme but for me, it all works.

As another example, look at Jim’s layout and all his “Homies”. Are they scale? No. Do they fit into his detailed scenes? Absolutely. It is all about how everything works together.

I certainly appreciate all the work and talent that it takes to create a realistic looking layout that mimics the real world.

When I get too hung up over the whole "realistic and weathering thing", I remind myself to counts the rails. That is what 2 rail O scale (not gauge) is for.

I know a lot of train guys and have coached quite a few of them over the years while building their layouts. Most get overwhelmed rather quickly when they feel they have to build a layout that fully replicates the real world. Then they lose interest. I have seen decent layouts that were built on top of a Life Like mat of green sawdust. Did they look realistic, no, but the owner was happy and proud of his work. If you want to try your hand at weathering, start out small and work your way up the ladder. As others have said, a little goes a long way.

Again, just my opinion on the whole topic. It is all about having fun with your layout.

Happy railroading.

Donald

"If two rails are good, than three rails has got to be better."

 

"Give a person a toy train and watch them play for a day. Teach a person to fill their basement with trains and give them a lifetime hobby."

One more thing I forgot to mention.

LIGHTING.

Whatever your goals are, to “weather” or not to “weather”, keep in mind the importance of room (layout) lighting. This topic has been discussed in the past and can be researched. Numerous articles have been written in OGR and the other magazines about the topic. Color balance, color temperature, color rendering index (cri), saturation, etc., these are the terms that come into play with indoor lighting.

To keep it simple, if you build your structures and weather your trains in the same room as the layout, you will be fine. However, if you have a separate work area for that activity, make sure both areas are illuminated with the same type of lighting. You will notice differences (in some cases dramatic) in perceived colors under different types of light.

Donald

"If two rails are good, than three rails has got to be better."

 

"Give a person a toy train and watch them play for a day. Teach a person to fill their basement with trains and give them a lifetime hobby."

quote:
Originally posted by 3rail:


I know a lot of train guys and have coached quite a few of them over the years while building their layouts. Most get overwhelmed rather quickly when they feel they have to build a layout that fully replicates the real world.

Donald


Donald,

You know it's sort of ironic for me. One reason I left HO was that I was becoming frustrated trying to duplicate the layouts and scenery in the Model Railroader magazine photos. Going to 3-rail gave me the freedom to add some of the postwar toy train look and feel, plus lots of whimsy to my modeling.

But, as I did more and more scenery, I found some scenes on my layouts gradually leaning back toward the realistic in many ways, but without the stress. As you can see from many of my layout photos, I am by no means a fanatic about total realism on the layout. But, it's fun making at least some scenes pretty close to what I was trying to do in the HO days.

So, I would never recommend that anyone stress out over how realistic the weathering or any other aspect of their layout is. Like you said, it's about having fun and getting a feeling of accomplishment.

But, like I said originally, the camera and a little photo tweaking can help you explore different looks that you may or may not want to use as a guide for your modeling.

You're right, too, about the importance of lighting in judging colors and overall effect. I know of one modeler who brought a blade of grass to the paint counter to have it color matched....it just doesn't work that way! Big Grin

Jim
Hey Jim.

You are right and have all good points. Hopefully my post was not taken to undermine your original intent. Smile

For me, it was N scale. I had the same issues with building a miniature world. When I switched totally to O Gauge it was like a burden getting lifted off my shoulders. One can detail and weather as little or as much as they want.

9 times out of 10, it all looks good.

And Dave.........post a sign about flash photography on the shop's layout!! Wink

Donald

"If two rails are good, than three rails has got to be better."

 

"Give a person a toy train and watch them play for a day. Teach a person to fill their basement with trains and give them a lifetime hobby."

quote:
Originally posted by 3rail:

Hopefully my post was not taken to undermine your original intent. Smile

Donald


Not at all, Donald. You added important ideas to the discussion. Smile

It's really hard to explain why 3-rail is "like a burden getting lifted off my shoulders", as you say. But I feel the same way. I guess it's sort of like when there's less pressure, you can be more creative.

There's a "semi-famous" quote from one of my favorite TV shows that says, "I reject your reality and substitute my own." I guess that sums up my approach to realism on my layout sometimes. Big Grin

Jim
quote:
Originally posted by ChiloquinRuss:
... lets say you want your layout to be sometime in the 40's. That's a pretty busy time for railroads and the country in general. So on your layout anything made in 1940 is going to be NEW unless its an industrial piece in which case it might be dirty from the use BUT the colors will still be bright. If its a vehicle or whatever from the 30's it might be showing signs of wear. Buildings from the thirty's will NOT be ramshackle falling down shacks but only 10 or 15 year old structures. Structures from the teens might be showing heavy wear but even they are still relatively new. Any road NOT dirt will be almost brand new. Just some of my observations regarding weathering. If you are using pix from today to set your weathering for a steam era railroad, you might just want to rethink a little bit of it. My 2 cents! Smile Russ

I have found this viewpoint to be something worth a second read; in fact, I've read it three times. You have given me plenty to think about, Russ.

That is, when we elect to "weather," exactly what are we saying is represented? Perhaps, it is saying that certain neighborhoods have been well-worn over time and are still present among us in contemporary times. Or perhaps, we are modeling only an older factory area which shows its long history of wear. In contrast, I have been in neighborhoods where every single house is pristine and seems only days old; anything ramshakle would have been reported to the local authorities as "in violation" of local standards.

So, if we were to heavily weather a steam locomotive, for example, and place it among a 60's environment, wouldn't it still have been well-kempt? If the environment were of the 80's, wouldn't the locomotive be washed and nicely restored as an artifact?

If I were modeling the 40's, wouldn't all the steam locomtives be kept in tip-top shape by their railroads and not be grimy at all? I was a child during the later 40's and throughout the 50's, and I don't recall ever seeing a dirty or "weathered" steam engine, not that I was ever-alert to every passing train. They were huffing and puffing, spitting out water and steam and cinders/soot from every possible seam and orafice, it seemed, but dirty? Not that I recall. And that was in and around the steel mills of greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Dirty and old, very worn houses, yes, but locomotives, I'm not sure.
Eh?

In certain given areas, everything isn't old and worn; nor is everything new and fresh, either, in other areas. Isn't life a mixture (outside of DisneyWorld)?
Frank
(Kindly, consider this li'l tome a musing, please.)

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has limits.     Dr. W.Dyer

quote:
Originally posted by Vulcan:
quote:
it's generally much more difficult to "un-weather"


No, just click "undo-saturation".

Big Grin

I think I like picture #2 the best.


Great minds must think alike .Don't know weather it's the light in that pic that's working with the contrast but it looks more like a real photo.

David
To me, each of those possibilities shows a very attractive scene. I like them all! Who could pick just one?

Jim, this is an interesting thread you've authored. Those three versions of the same place are intriguing because each is so nice, and yet so different. You made your point well.
Frank

Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge has limits.     Dr. W.Dyer

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