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!