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Using cosmetic applicators for weathering

By Cody Grivno | January 11, 2023

This easily found cosmetic tool can be effectively used to weather models

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Using cosmetic applicators for weathering: An image of a model locomotive and paints.

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

I started by spraying the entire model with the same thinned Polly Scale Reefer White. Since I needed to decal the model, I applied the same firm’s Clear Gloss. Once the locomotive was relettered, 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. 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. As with the artists’ oils, I left a thin halo of the first color to suggest fresh rust.

An image of a pair of hands holding a model locomotive and a cosmetic applicator.
Cody blotted off most of the Polly Scale Rust on a paper towel before gently pressing the applicator to the roof of the switcher. He used the same technique, but with Railroad Tie Brown, to simulate darker rust.

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

Using cosmetic applicators for weathering: A pair of hands holding a model locomotive with a cosmetic applicator.
The full-size switcher had grime on its sills, and Cody re-created that look with Railroad Tie Brown and a cosmetic applicator. He set the applicator on the edge of the sill and slowly rocked it forward.

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.

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