O'Neills Fabrication - HO Scale - An in-depth tutorial for building SWSM kits



  • The bushes stood out to me as well. I didn't say anything as I don't want to be critical of your great work, but they would be behind and under the oil tank where they don't get much light and therefore wouldn't be as vibrant in color. Also there would be oil spill residue in the soil from leaks in the tank or spills so they would probably be dead or nearly so. Perhaps consider Woodland Scenics Coarse texture turf that is Earth color or Burnt Grass color or an equivalent.
  • Phil, looking great!!
    Looking forward to your progress and more pic's.
  • Thanks all for the comments. Bryan, no I haven’t thought of varying the color of the bushes other than trying to use different colors. What color would you drybrush with? Phil
  • I'd experiment with the color on a couple pieces not yet on the diorama. I'd try at least 2 different ones: a light, golden green, and a light tan. Maybe one with both.

    To me the golden color would represent the light tips of new growth on a bush. The tan would represent dried leaves at the tips of branches.

    Try a couple different colors and post your experiment. As a sidenote, I drybrushed the static grass on a diorama with a golden/tan color. Really made the grass pop.
  • Phil this is a great thread. A lot of good info for all of us. I know a lot more about horticulture than modeling and my advice is not to worry too much about the bushes- don't let them draw attention away from the model. A business like this probably wouldn't have any formal landscaping anyway. Maybe just a few scruffy weeds.

    I really like how you think through all of the scenery steps to finish the diorama. A lot of us will hurry through them as the finish line comes into sight.
  • Thanks Bryan and Mike. I will experiment on the bushes on the side to see what I can do. I like throwing in a few bushes because of their height as compared to other scenery elements. Phil
  • Phil, looking great!
    Scenery/bushes/weeds takes time and patience to master to look real.
    I have this problem making scenery look good but getting better each time I build.
    Your doing great and keep up your work and send more pics. :smile:
  • phil,
    if you don't have woodland scenics fine leaf foliage or an equivalant, i recommend you do. breaking off bits here and there make for some nice sapling trees, and i've enhanced them and used them as bushes too. one package will probably last you forever unless you're building a big pike, so its pretty economical.
  • Thanks Pappy and Kevin for the suggestions. While I'm contemplating what to do with those bushes, I want to take a step back from the scenery work and concentrate on preparing the many castings that Brett provides with each kit. This is another reason why these kits are superior to others.

    When it comes to the castings, you can really take two approaches. You can prepare and paint them as you need them for each scenery mini scene or you can prepare them all at once. For purposes of this tutorial, I'm going to go ahead and prepare them as a batch.

    Let's start with the white metal castings. Take those out of the plastic bag and inspect for any flashing. Brett does a good job eliminating flashing, so you won't find much. Next, put all the white metal castings in a container and soak them in 91% alcohol.



    This is a trick Bill taught me. The alcohol gets rid of any impurities on the metal. BTW, for this step you can probably use whatever alcohol you have on hand. Nothing magical about 91%.

    Next, I blackened each casting with Jax Pewter Blackening fluid. Again, nothing magical about Jax other than it works. When placing the casting in the fluid, I hold it with old tweezers and use a small brush to brush off the initial black crud it produces and work the fluid into those hard-to-get-to places. You will know them because they will appear as white spots. Then I put in water to stop the chemical reaction. Then onto a paper towel to dry. I explained all of this earlier in my build.


    I then took a rotary tool with a flexible cable and used a buffing tool at a fairly slow rpm to buff the castings. If you get the rpms up too much, you'll have castings flying all over the place. BTW, with about 40 castings, I only had one go flying off and I probably won't find it until I clean up my craft room.


    Next, let's go to the resin castings. First, you need to separate the resin castings into two groups - metal items such as tanks, trash cans, 55 gal. barrels, etc. and non-metal castings such as boxes, table tops, cabinets, shelves, etc. Second, with regard to each group you need to separate the castings that can fit on a toothpick and castings that will go on popsicle sticks. The metal castings will be painted black and the wood castings will be painted khaki.

    I can't overemphasize how important it is to have all casting on either a toothpick or popsicle stick. It makes it so much easier to handle and paint and weather.

    Before placing the castings on the popsicle sticks or toothpicks, check for flashing and make sure it can sit squarely on a flat surface. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, but you get the idea.


    For the castings that will go on toothpicks, you will need to drill a small hole large enough for a toothpick to fit. You will also need to clip off the pointy end of the tooth pick. Make sure it's a tight fit.


    You will see I'm using toothpicks that I have used in previous builds. It's great to recycle these toothpicks so you don't have to clip off the ends each time.

    Once you have drilled the hole (no need to make it too deep), place it on the toothpick and then place on some scrap foam.


    As you will see, I staggered each casting so I will have access to all sides of the casting when painting.


    Once you are done with the toothpicks, drag those popsicle sticks out along with the double-sided carpet tape and place the other castings on them. Be sure you angle them so you have access to all sides for painting.

    Here is everything ready for painting.


    Let's talk about painting the castings. There are a number of folks that only use rattle can paint. I admire them because I have a tendency to overpaint when using a rattle can. I prefer to use my Harbor Freight very cheap air brush to paint castings. Why? There is so much detail in these castings, I don't want to lose any of it due to too much paint. With an airbrush, I can easily control the amount of paint on each casting. Of course, that's my preferred way of painting and I offer it only as a suggested alternative.

    Here are all of the castings painted. BTW, my 14 year old grandson was at my house and I let him do most of the airbrushing. He did a fantastic job.


    Next time: Painting and weathering the castings. Thanks for following. Phil
  • Great using photos to show each step along with your usual detailed explanation......Rick
  • Just a few castings to do.
  • edited October 2021
    It’s been commented on many times about the sheer quality of castings included in a Brett kit….I’ve been working on a brand x kit recently and on a kit of similar size, complexity and price to a Brett kit there is less than a dozen or so castings
  • It’s been commented on many times about the sheer quality of castings included in a Brett kit….I’ve been working on a brand x kit recently and on a kit of similar size, complexity and price to a Brett kit there is less than a dozen or so castings

    and i'm sure they are far inferior to brett's castings.

  • Nice tutorial Phil. I like how you mentioned painting details depending on the area you're working on versus painting them in mass. I always do the final painting, detailing, and weathering per area I'm working on, and let the scene dictate the final product as I work my way around the diorama.

    Keep up the terrific work here.

  • You are creating here the Mother of all tutorials !!! Thanks for that Phil
  • Thanks all. Like Ken states, it's much easier to paint the castings as you progress around the diorama and yes, Robert, I told Brett I was going to create a very in depth tutorial. However, my boss left the company on Monday and I'm scrambling. It may be difficult to get any crafting in for a bit. Thanks for your patience. Phil
  • Take your time Phil.
    I'm retired and have have no boss except for my wife :smiley:
    Keep up your great work and send updates when you can.
  • No hurries, no worries. We modelers are by nature patient people.... Hmmm. Hmmmmm........
  • Phil….I’ll be here when you return

  • Thanks for the support.
  • Just to be different from Ken I try to finish as many details as I can before composing the scenes. I am no where near as consistent as Ken with my painting and I find many details turn out great and some are not so perfect. I find my best painted details and place them in front and place the losers behind, often covered by other castings or pallets and junk. I also find I sometime create something truly magical (usually by mistake) and I might try to create a scene around that casting.

    Different approaches to be sure but for those who are not artists it might be better to paint the whole schmear.

    Just my two cents as always.
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