Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Brick Finishes Using Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments

Numerous techniques have been used to model realistic brick finishes. I have tried many of these techniques; and through using and modifying these methods and then
discovering and/or creating the products in this article, I have devised the following technique. This process works for me because it is quick and easy and produces fantastically realistic brickwork. This technique will also work for stone finishes, but that is another article.

The materials needed for this process are several colors of the Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments, a small cup of water or a few ounces of Rubbing Alcohol, Doctor Ben's Worn Concrete (#1095) (one jar will do dozens of structures), a spray can of inexpensive flat black paint, a Doctor Ben's Micro Blaster #1490 (a super fine mister) and a brick structure. This technique will also work for resin cast wood, but that is another article. The tools needed are a razor knife, an abrasive pad, and an ordinary hobby/craft brush (1/4" round).

Step 1: Begin by rinsing the molded/cast parts in warm soapy water and allowing them to dry overnight. Then inspect the parts very closely for flashings and/or casting bubbles/balls. Use a filler (e.g. Squadron Putty) to fill any voids or crevasses, and scrape excess flashings and casting balls from the surface with a razor knife. (These steps may seem mundane, but preparation is often the key to having a project turn out extraordinary, i.e. award-winning, rather than just good. I like to model "quick & dirty," but only after a proper preparation.) Use an abrasive pad to scuff the shininess off the molded surfaces. Brush or blow off the dust with an air hose, and spray paint all sides of the structure with the can of inexpensive flat black paint in a well ventilated area or spray booth.

Step 2: Allow the flat black parts to dry thoroughly (which usually takes twenty-four hours—or one hour in the Georgia sun). Shake the Doctor Ben's Worn Concrete very well before opening, and generously apply (with the hobby/craft brush) the Doctor Ben's Worn Concrete into the mortar cracks of the brick wall sections (Figure 1) and allow it to dry. If you have the convenience of a bright, hot sun, you can use it to bake your mortar joints dry; alternately, you can try a heat gun or hair dryer to speed the drying process.

Step 3: When you are confident that the Doctor Ben's Worn Concrete is dry, you are ready for the next step. It may take me longer to write how to do it than it will take for you to do it, but here goes. Open the package of the Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments that you would like to use as your base color. For this article I used the Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments (IWP) #1350 Navajo Red. Begin by dipping the 1/4" round brush in the small container of water (or rubbing alcohol, if you prefer to work faster) to wet the brush. Stick the tip of the wet brush about 1/4" into the Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering jar (or just enough to pick up the color on the tip of the brush). Move the brush over to a non-porous surface (I use the underside of the IWP product cap), and swish around to mix the water/alcohol with the IWP color so that it is mixed very well (Figure 2). Now scrape just a bit off of the brush. Drag the brush horizontally across each wall section (parallel to the direction of the bricks and no more than 3 bricks high.)

This process is better done with the brush drier rather than wetter. If the brush is too wet, or if there is too much product on the brush, the color typically ends up running into the mortar joints. This is acceptable if the overrun is occasional and random. Any more than this may cause you to come back and refinish the mortar joints with the Worn Concrete.

Step 4: Decide whether you want one brick color or more. There are lots of instances where a single color brick is used, so that is acceptable (Figure 3). If you elect to use only one color for the bricks on this structure, you can skip this step and proceed to Step 5. However, if you want more than one color, the second color can be added after the base color is very dry.

You can simply use another IWP color for this step, or you could choose to try a little color mixing of the IWP color used in Step 3 and another IWP color. For example, I chose to add a lighter, contrasting brick to the brighter red color by mixing the Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments #1333 Pebble with the #1350 Navajo Red pigment—but not at full strength (I mixed the Pebble powder—on a non-porous surface—with just the reddened water/alcohol that I used for the red brick color in Step 3). I got a nice watery pinkish-tan from the mixture. Once you get the color you want, drag the brush in short, staggered strokes of about 3-5 bricks long and no more than 3 bricks high, but this time follow a jagged, random "X" (e.g. an old-fashioned computer-generated X) pattern. This same technique can be followed with a third and even a fourth color; the choice is yours.

Step 5: After the walls have as much diversity of color as you want, it is time to randomly add individual bricks. Load your brush as in Step 3, with another IWP color. Touch the brush tip to the face of random bricks, being careful not to get too carried away. I prefer these individual bricks to be one of the dark brown pigments, so I used Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments #1338 Durango Brown. It is helpful to have a few reference photos on the bench to guide your colors and placement.

When you feel that the structure has enough color, the easiest way to finish your model (and also tone down the red color) is to mix a solution of 50% Doctor Ben's Instant Age and 50% rubbing alcohol in a Doctor Ben's Micro Blaster #1490 or fine mister and spray in random bursts over each wall section.

The real trick here is to use this step to also develop shadows on the undersides of the bricks in order to create a greater definition. This step is very easily accomplished by turning the wall section (or structure or vehicle, for that matter) upside down as you are spraying the 50/50 Doctor Ben's Instant Age/alcohol solution.

The final weathering residue ends up resting on the tops of the surfaces—which are actually the bottoms of the surfaces. When the wall or model is turned right
side up after the solution dries, the remaining residue creates a slight shadow effect. This technique works very well, and it increases the realism of the model, even under the poorest lighting conditions.

Finally: If the structure/model will be handled a lot, a spray of inexpensive hairspray (check the back of the can/bottle to be sure that the hairspray contains alcohol and lacquer) on the completed structure will seal the finish. Otherwise, you will find that the sealing process will not be necessary and that the final spray of the 50/50 Doctor Ben's Instant Age/alcohol solution sort of bonds the brick finishing process. I am not sure how or why, but from my experiences using these products over the past twenty years, I just know that it

So, that's if for "How-To #1: The Art of Turning Toys into Models-Part 3: Brick Finishes Using Doctor Ben's Industrial Weathering Pigments." I hope that you have found this information useful. In order to have this technique in a printed format please feel free to print for your own use or share it with your friends (or purchase the "How-To" booklet). All I ask is that when distributing this information that you credit Doctor Ben's with this technique. I have developed numerous techniques over the years such as using inexpensive "pump" hair spray for weathering and sealing finishes where others have NOT credited the source of this technique. If you still have some questions just ask, others are probably thinking the same questions, so PLEASE ask! Happy modeling!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Doctor Ben's Pond Scum (#1057)

Question: we love the rust but the pond scum does not seem to be performing for us- it seems wayyyyy too dark, not like the light green of real pond scum.....have you got any pictures or examples of what it is supposed to look like?
MH Hampstead, NC

Answer: First, Congratulations on being the very first posting on this new BLOG experience & thank you for the Realistic Rust (#1050) comment!

Pond Scum - Yes, an ambiguous product that I have creatively used for many, many years in combination with "other" products to make a scene. The history of this product was that I had one of those old, square Floquil© two ounce jars that I washed my paint brushes as a primary wash to remove most of the color from a brush. If I wanted a perfectly clean brush I would use a second jar labeled Pond Scum #2 (true story) to swish the paint brush real well; dry with a rag; and (if it were a good brush) re-wet the brush bristles with saliva and a quick twist to re-shape the bristles for use another time.

As Pond Scum #2 jar became too dirty to provide a thoroughly cleaned brush I would stir the contents and pour them into the Pond Scum #1 jar, thus, the creation of a weathering finish I called Pond Scum when asked what color(s) I used to create the effect (or affect) from the brush wash bottles. Now, back to your issue MH and let me say first off that folks often expect weathering magic in a jar when they purchase Doctor Ben's weathering products. Often they are not—either magic in a jar nor are they going to get "the magic".

Let me clarify that last part. Obviously, there is no magic involved here. Much of what Doctor Ben's provides are common chemistry and a collective group or material that will improve the
modelers efforts. And as far as getting "the magic", sorry but the magic comes with trial and error; success and failure; communication and sharing which is what this BLOG is all about. I am tired of firing back a quick group of sentences to folks posing questions which often may confuse the modeler even more and who may be afraid to ask for further clarification. Additionally, for the many jars of Doctor Ben's Pond Scum product (and many, many others), obviously other customers using this product may be thinking the very same question and this forum should provide them both an opportunity to search and discover answers that they seek at their time and convenience!

I think back and imagine how the early Doctor Ben's product customers felt when I first began selling Realistic Rust and Instant Age. At the time (the 1980s) early feedback from many customers that these were both great products. If a customer had built a Fine Scale Miniatures (FSM) HO scale kit, they knew what the Instant Age was all about, but what was this Realistic Rust stuff all about? They would vaguely remember seeing the Realistic Rust product used on one of the dioramas that we displayed at the show where they purchased the products and they did find a few sentences on the back of the bottle which also included a warning "not to drink" the stuff in the bottle and that was it! While probably scratching their heads they might think, so where's the magic and I would get a phone call asking me again how to use this product. I suspect that many folks did figure it out for themselves because I honestly did NOT receive as many phone calls as bottles of products that had been sold. Once again, the reasoning for this BLOG posting format—communication & sharing of information.

So, what about MH's concern with the Pond Scum being wayyyyy too dark? Well guess what, the color shades of Pond Scum vary as water temperature increases/decreases and believe it or not altitude can have an affect on the amount of scum in a pond, lake, stream, inlet, et cetera. But MH's pond is a light green of real pond scum or at least the color of ponds in and around Hampstead, NC; how is this Doctor Ben's product going to work for him (or her)? Well, that depends on exactly how MH is using this product (you were expecting a short answer?) . MH could be using this product straight out of the jar, but onto what surface, finish and color? MH could be mixing this product with another product to create a tinted water color. We don't know these things so when you post a question to me on this BLOG additional details would be helpful. With all this considered, how would Doctor Ben (me) use this product to create the light green of real pond scum that MH is looking for? Now this is a question that I can answer!

One way to accomplish this task is to mix the Doctor Ben's Pond Scum with a casting plaster. Depending upon whether Plaster of Paris©, Hydrocal©, Dental Stone or plain old drywall mud is used would dictate how much Doctor Ben's Pond Scum is added to the mixture. I would try to make this mixture kind of "soupy" so that it would self-level itself to a degree. If this pond could be pre-cast in a bowl (not the wife's good silicon bowl-find your own down at Goodwill/Salvation Army for a couple of bucks) or wax paper in a sand box (resist using the kid's sandbox outside) or use one of those throw-away cooking foil containers at the local grocery store. This effort could save a disaster attempting to create a pond in place on the layout. A worse case scenario would be to cut a piece of one inch foam to fit the area in the layout; dig out the pond area in the foam pattern; cast and scenic the drop-in foam shape; and install in the layout with out risk of damage to anything or anyone! Don't forget to add rocks, tires, logs to the bottom of the pond (including scale people cut off at the waist to be swimming in the pond). As a finish coat consider adding some Doctor Ben's Pond Scum to a matte medium; Future Floor Wax (to slightly tint the matte medium/Future Floor Wax) for a nice glossy finish.

Another technique that I would consider if i were MH would be to paint the surface with a light pond scum color (such as a brownish green—Depot Olive Green #1093 and Rail brown #1092 would do it for MH) swishing the two colors together varying the hues to find the shade of pond scum it is that you seek. I'll bet you didn't know that you could make your own colors, now did you! The glossy surface can still be finished like the above suggestion (I really like the Future Floor Wax for shiny water) but perhaps you are creating a bay, or an inlet and it is a windy day. The water will not be as smooth as the water in that idle pond. Matt medium can still be used to create a wavy surface but have you ever considered using a tube of clear silicon caulking for modeling water those "moldable" waves? I did this back on my "Anglesey Boatyard" diorama back in the late 1980s. I don't remember where I got the idea but I believe that I read in the the NG&SL Gazette, Model Railroader, Model Railroad Craftsman magazine or somewhere (I read a lot of magazines in those days) but using the silicone caulking was not something that I thought up, but here are a few lessons that I learned. Silicon caulking has a odor that lingers—for days! Use this technique in a well ventilated area and not in your family room next to the TV and the kitchen. The article discussed using your fingers to spread the silicon caulking around with your fingers. Not a good idea especially should you discover an itch during the application process. Use a disposable putty knife or paint paddle or whatever you have handy, just not the fingers. And point all your waves the same direction, but NOT straight
into shore. have the waves coming in at an angle. This is more dramatic to the viewer which is also why when I build a diorama I do not make the structures parallel to the diorama base. We AD&D folks tend to square up the diorama display base with the table or platform where the model is being displayed. Finally when the silicon caulking is dry and less odorous the wave tops can be dry-brushed with Doctor Ben's Antique White #1094 for highlights and foam. Add some Doctor Ben's Rail Brown for additional blotches of crud floating in the water and Doctor Ben's Pond Scum to the brown crud as well as accentuating the rocks, walls, pilings, etc at the waterline for some super scummy detail. Author's Note: There may now be a clear latex caulking at your local Big Box Store without the odors I experienced.

We don't know that MH has any of these other Doctor Ben's products used to create a light green pond scum but, we do know that he does have Doctor Ben's Realistic Rust. If MH doesn't want (or can't) purchase any of the above products or in a pinch consider this technique. Using a clean jar or plastic container and add a spoonful of the two rust and pond scum products that MH does have. The orangey-yellow rust will lighten up the darker Doctor Ben's Pond Scum and adding more rust to the pond scum a little at a time will lighten the darker green to a closer light green that MH is looking for. My guess that this will get MH closer to the color of light green of real pond scum depending, of course, on the lighting MH is using over the work bench and the layout. Want to bet that they are not the same colors? But that's another topic for another BLOG. A very *special* thanks to MH for submitting his question and as a show of our appreciation Doctor Ben's is sending MH a goodie box with some of the Doctor Ben's products discussed in this BLOG to help him/her along with this experience.

And what about the pictures and examples that MH asked about? Well, quite honestly, I haven't had the chance to create and post any at this time. Do you have any great pond scum pictures that you wouldn't mind sharing? Send them in and we'll post them with the Doctor Ben's Pond Scum product on the www.DrBens.com website (yes, you will get credit for providing the pictures). Now get out there and build something! ttfn, Ben