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Simulate rust with makeup applicators

By Cody Grivno | February 17, 2021

Get realistic results with these foam-tipped products

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Athearn HO scale SW1000 weathered with acrylic hobby paints and makeup applicators.

When I asked my wife if we could walk through the cosmetic department at the local drugstore, she gave me a somewhat puzzled look. This part of the store is home to some fantastic weathering tools, including foam-tipped cosmetic applicators. I used these applicators to simulate rust and paint wear on this Athearn HO scale BNSF Railway SW1000 diesel locomotive.

I started by spraying the entire model with the thinned Polly Scale Reefer White (one part paint to nine parts 70-percent isopropyl alcohol). Since I needed to decal the model, I applied the same firm’s Clear Gloss. Once the locomotive was re-lettered, I sprayed the model with Clear Satin.

With the prep work out of the way, I brought out the cosmetic applicators. First, I dipped an applicator in Polly Scale Rust and blotted off most of the color on a paper towel, similar to drybrushing, 1. Then I gently pressed the applicator to model, slowly building up the color. Once the Rust dried, I used the same method to apply Railroad Tie Brown. I left a thin halo of the first color to suggest fresh rust. [Polly Scale colors are no longer available from Testor Corp. Similar acrylic colors are available from Acrylicos Vallejo, AK Interactive, and Mission Models, among other firms. – Ed.]

When studying prototype photos of BNSF 3612, I noticed the locomotive had splotchy patches of grime on the sills, 2. Polly Scale Railroad Tie Brown and a cosmetic applicator was the perfect recipe for re-creating this look on the model.

You could also use this technique to add grime to the front and rear pilots of a locomotive or soot stains on the exhaust stack.

Athearn HO scale SW1000 weathered with acrylic hobby paints and makeup applicators.
Cody Grivno used foam-tipped cosmetic applicators to simulate rust and paint wear on this Athearn HO scale BNSF Ry. SW1000 diesel locomotive.

Applying rust acrylic paint to cab of SW1000 with makeup applicator.
1. Blot off most of the Polly Scale Rust on a paper towel before gently pressing the applicator to the roof of the switcher. Use the same technique, but with Railroad Tie Brown, to simulate darker rust.

Applying Railroad Tie Brown acrylic paint to sill of SW1000 with makeup applicator.
2.The full-size switcher had grime on its sills, and you can re-create that look with Railroad Tie Brown and a cosmetic applicator. Set the applicator on the edge of the sill and slowly rock it forward.

 

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