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Started by finescalerr, May 25, 2016, 05:59:18 PM

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I'm trying to come up with a much better formula for emulating weathered wood than anything I've previously done. The first attempt is in the trash and this is the second. Too much variation in color and contrast? Everything is starting to look the same to me at this point. I could use some input, please. -- Russ

Ray Dunakin

What material is this?
Visit my website to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!

Ray Dunakin's World


Paper, but it shouldn't matter. Either it looks like wood or it doesn't. If it doesn't, I need to come up with a different approach -- and NOT use an inkjet printer.

I have so many kinds of paper, and such large quantities, it seemed I should figure out a way to use it. This attempt began with a brown water color wash, then an application of Silverwood, then washes of lacquer thinner, turpentine, and denatured alcohol, then a few swipes of dilute brown, yellow, and black watercolors, and finally more denatured alcohol. The scale is 1:32 (eight inch wide boards).

The process was unnecessarily complicated. I read your article about painting styrene to look like wood, Ray, and also Chuck's method of staining and distressing the wood in his 1:16 scale barn diorama. Since neither technique directly applies, I tried to incorporate the "spirit" of what you guys did to work out a starting point.

Under magnification these boards look very close to some stained stripwood I have. But, to me, they still look too much like "model wood" rather than miniaturized real weathered wood.

I tried to make the photo an accurate representation of what I actually see in the workshop.


Guy Milh(imeter)

You are being very hard on yourself Russ! Looks like real wood to me!!


Rather texture than coloring bothers me, looking to coarse and at the same time to consistent for raw cut wood. I think the water based washings push the paper fibres up. So one way may be avoiding that. Just some deliberations instaed: Try a flatiron to bring fibres down again. Or drench rear with superglue and then sand the surface a bit - I don't know. Additionally some sharper color edges may add to the appearance alongside some of the 'wood' fibres.

I'll make it. If I have to fly the five feet like a birdie.
I'll fly it. I'll make it.

The comprehensive book about my work: "Vollendete Baukunst"


I think they look pretty good.
Wood is different colors in real life.
As you know my other hobby is woodworking.
Hell even one board has several color variations.

They may be a reason no one uses paper for wood?


Bill Gill

Russ, I think Volker has hit the nail on the proverbial plank: texture. It produces shadows that change when the lighting and/or the viewer shift position. Both Ray's and Chuck's weathered boards have 3D grain and checks and splits that create real shadows. The very fine natural grain of the wood also catches the light differently at different angles, giving a bright silvery look under some conditions, even at distances where you can't possibly see the grain. The moving eyes see those changes in brightness and perhaps long, fine, roughly parallel shadows getting more or less prominent, and the brain says I've seen that, that's old wood. With a nearly smooth paper surface the almost depthless embossed grain creates "shadows" that don't change when you/the light move around, so the brain says not-wood no matter how convincing the color is.

And speaking of knot-wood, most of the neglected old wood I've seen has a fair number of knots. Your small blemish free sample compared to Ray's & Chuck's is a bit apple wood to orange sticks. And those details further add more shadows.

Here is your test and two samples of relatively clear wood out in the weather, similar to your sample. Side by side, on a computer monitor, with a fixed viewing angle and lighting direction they look pretty similar.  But you are looking at your actual model from multiple angles. The upper one looks similar to a sample you made with a printer some time ago.

Bill Gill

Here is your test and two samples of more heavily weathered wood. You can see the illusive "silvery" look on a couple boards – alas, not yet replicable by any known modeling technique short of letting actual model wood sit out in the weather.


Volker, I did notice the texture and hate those tiny paper fibers. I'll try using an iron and report back. I've already applied flat varnish to the boards but it was of no help but I have other papers with much more subtle textures (and maybe less fiber).

Bill, ain't no way I could produce realistic knots with paper unless I devise some kind of press (like using metal tubes to create the outline of a knot). We can't even make stripwood come close enough to your examples so that's why I used photos to create inkjet printed paper wood. Adding "proper" grain is another near impossibility. Wire brushes raise little fibers and the grain channels are too subtle. A razor saw blade is too coarse and will tear up the paper. And how on earth could anybody create the intricate coloration of some of your examples in a scale as small as 1:32? I've spent a long time studying photos of weathered boards and all of those issues have plagued me for years.

On the other hand, I wonder how my paper wood sample might look under a layer of crackle paint ... or whether any use of paper is suitable only for an impressionistic approach. It's fun to experiment but a waste of time unless the results are satisfactory.


Bill Gill

Russ, If you ignore the two knots in the top photo I posted, those boards have about the same amount of grain as your example, but the grain lines in the photo are lighter than the rest of the board and there's also less color than your test. It almost looks like a silvered B&W print of wood, but it ain't. It reminds me of the look of one of your inkjet wood tests from (?) a couple years ago.

The second photo has basically no grain at all showing, there's just those traces of old paint. The few knots are tiny and tight and would be invisible from a few feet away so can be omitted, though if someone were really pushing it, perhaps colored pencils lightly applied with dull points might be able to suggest their presence. Perhaps, better, forget the knots and the photo could be part of a guide for trying your crackle paint idea.

The last two photos are more typical of what many modelers aim for when weathering wood. Ignore the grain, but the top one of those has some coloration that resembles your test if you remove the red from yours.

Ironing might help, but if the paper is ever subjected to high humidity that might not be a permanent solution unless you seal the paper. Maybe a test of different sealers like clear flat lacquers or acrylics might help get rid of the fuzzy grain of the paper?


Russ, nice work. I've been following your work on using paper as a modelling material for several years.

I suggest that generally toning it down might help: make it all a bit lighter and reduce the variations of color and darkness a bit. You could try representing the grain by light knife cuts, mostly at the ends where wood cracks first.

To reduce the fibres, I'd suggest a coat of gesso first. I usually rub it on with a cloth to give a smooth finish to represent wood. But if you apply it with a bristle brush or sand it when it's dry then you can get a 'grain' effect that persists through later coats.

This gentleman uses stencil card / oiled manila, which you can sand to represent 'wood grain': https://davidneat.wordpress.com/2016/04/08/making-a-panelled-door-in-stencil-card/.

Personally, at these scales I use veneer and strip wood to represent wood, and I enjoy how the veneer is strong enough to let me build it plank-by-plank, just like the prototype. Paper just doesn't feel as nice to me.


Thank you for that information, Peter. I've spent the past couple of days working on more realistic coloration. I actually sanded my paper today with decent results but gesso sounds like a better approach. I've had many thoughts about where to use paper and, frankly, unpainted weathered wood has been one I've avoided. This is all just an experiment to see what I can accomplish before I actually cobble together a diorama. It's fun discovering what I can do ... and what I can't. -- Russ

Allan G

Russ; I could use all of them. Really like the last few!!! Allan


I have spent the past several days messing with different papers and coloring methods. Let's start with the "failures". Some boards may look okay in a photo but the papers were too soft and developed a little bit of fuzz from repeated applications of watercolors, SilverWood, denatured alcohol, lacquer thinner, art preservation varnish, or whatever else I used.

Maybe I'm being too picky, because under magnification you can see fuzz on stripwood, too. My paper experiments often looked about as real as stained wood ... only different. Each has positive and negative characteristics and, if nothing else, reminded me of the shortcomings of using real wood. Even so I wanted to do better.

Here are the first few boards.



At that point I hadn't yet realized the papers were too soft, especially after I cobbled together this board and bat wall. The finish consisted of a wash of brown watercolor, a wash of SilverWood, and an application of varnish. The paper is Strathmore Bristol plate, the highest quality they make, and comes only in large sheets. Other Strathmore Bristol papers are softer but I didn't realize that until I found myself unable to replicate this result.

The top two horizontal boards in the second photo are Strathmore Bristol from a pad and Lanaquarrelle cold press art paper (terrific for use with inkjet printers, by the way). The narrower boards are the same papers but I bought some gray weathered wood stain at the hardware store and tried it out. It was too thick, like paint, and I couldn't thin it enough after it had soaked into the paper. What the heck. I wanted to see what results I could achieve. Not bad, and probably would be better were I to thin the "stain" before applying it to the paper, but the various applications of paint, pastel chalks, and whatever else raised too much fuzz.

I was getting frustrated but knew I was making progress.