Wood coloring experiments

edited November 2011 in Working with Wood
In anticipation of my O scale Trackside Trio arriving (woohoo) I have been trying some wood staining. These are craft sticks that measure out to about a 4x12. Each board was scribed with a pick and wire brushed. Not much else other than trying a couple of nail and knot holes and a few nicks here and there. I was just trying to get my coloring down.

The first pic is straight black IA followed by drybrushing in tan, gray, then linen.
2nd pic is a few boards with varying formulas of black/brown IA.
3rd pic is of the same boards lightly sanded to highlight.

I have also ordered all of the chalks suggested by Brett to give those a try as well. I would be interested to see what others think the advantages are of IA or chalks or both.

Ideas/comments/suggestions welcome.



  • well it appears that I do not know how to post an attachment.
  • You pictures showed up fine. I think if you hit "preview" before posting, you get those red x's. But...I can see 'em.

    Take good notes on how you did your colors (especially the first set--looks fantastic!) The wood looks old and weathered and appears rather run down. The areas with the deep texture is where the darker color appears--exactly what you want. The reason for taking notes is if you happen to come up a piece or 2 short, you'll want to be able to replicate the color(s). Plus, several years from now you may look at a building and want to match the look on a different structure.

    If you don't mind, a quick suggestion for the tan wood. See the 3rd piece in the picture #3? It's got sort of a speckled look to it. I've had that happen after sanding stripwood and then hitting the piece with ink & alcohol. It's almost like tiny bits of sawdust collect and ball up in the grooves after the A/I is added. To get rid of that, let the wood dry completely then go back over those areas with some real fine steel wool. It usually polishes up the wood and knocks down those tiny clumps. Blow it off good, then go back and dry brush if you like. I think you'll find that it helps the texture pop out. You can find fine steel wool in the paint section at Menards or Home Depot in different grades (like 00 all the way down to 0000, I think). Sometimes, I've used a tack cloth to get rid of the "micro sawdust" if I know I'm going to add A/I.

    When you get your kits, the manual will have some recipes for staining stripwood. Make sure to try the soaking method as described. It's real easy and gives great results.

    I'd say your expriment was a success. Nice work!
    Get your work area set up and go wait for the mailman!
  • You have a great head start... looking really good. I like your texture. One suggestion - the number one problem I find is modelers over think and stall out. Dive in when the box arrives (maybe today?) and don't be timid. You got nothing to worry about by the looks of these samples!
  • Thanks all...the pics seem to have miraculously appeared.

    Bill, I noticed the spots also and was wondering about that. I did keep track of the recipes and steps I took on each board by writing a number on the back of each one and each time I did something I wrote it down. I also liked the first pic. I'm sure it was the drybrushing finish that did it. I wonder how that will work on top of chalk.

    Brett, the kits are scheduled to arrive today, but not the chalks. It will give me some time to read over the manual and digest that before trying those techniques out.
  • Ah the manual. Its like a great book. Difficult to put down once you start reading it. :)
  • Well the chalks came today and I tried a couple of boards per the instructions in the manual. I must say that they look good--sorry no pics yet. Brett describes the finished look as dusty and that is a good description.

    One variation I tried was to put in knot holes on 1 board prior to coloring. I like the way it turned out.

    I'm going to try a couple more colors tomorrow as well as the above mentioned drybrushing attempt.
  • Forgot to ask this. The step that says to light gray chalk after the IA wash. Is this to be worked in while the IA is still wet or should it be brushed away after it dries?
  • yes.... try it both ways
  • The final decision was to not try to reinvent the wheel and go with the instructions. Here is the first wall from the Rigging Shed.

    I'll still need to darken the knot holes, work on the left edge, and a few other details. If anything pops out that could be done better just chime in.

  • try shooting your pics against a white or neutral gray background - the black darkens everything up and makes color evaluation difficult. the graining, knots, weathering, splits, etc... are right on... crooked board looks natural too
  • G'day. I have recently been introduced to a product called Hunterline weathering solution...specifically Creosote Black. I believe its designed for wood. Has anyone had any experience/make any recommendations about it before I buy a test bottle?
    Greg In Australia
  • edited November 2012
    Hi Greg,
    I have seen the Hunterline products in person at several shows where they have samples of the different coloured stained wood infront of each bottle.

    Essentially these "solutions" are basically just an A&I mix to my understanding.

    The creosote black pictured below looks exactly like my regular A&I stain that I use for wood.


    My recommendation is that you just mix your own and save your money.

    Mixing your own will also ensure that you can repeat the process at anytime in the future, even if Hunterline withdraws their specific 'product' from the market.

  • Hi all - question here - I've been practicing some various colouring techniques. I've tried various AI formulas - easy but often too grey for a newer structure. For the chalk method, which I'm leaning to, I have line side kit and wood cutters (o scale)- one uses burnt sienna as a base and the other raw umber. What are the base colours (Rembrandt #s) for kits like the tool shed and the rigging shed - I plan to create the larger scene with these kits and ideally I liked to have a common base with age being achieved with black, white, and grey chalks? I like the reddish quality of the line side shed but also the " blonder" quality of the tool shed and tractor repair shed...
  • Here's a list Brett posted some time ago. I found it very helpful:

    here is a basic listing of Rembrandt Colors:

    Brown Family For Wood:
    • Raw Umber — 408.3, 408.5, 408.9
    • Burnt Umber — 409.3 and 409.9
    • Raw Sienna — 234.3

    Orange/Red Family For Rust:
    • Gold Ochre — 231.5
    • Burnt Sienna — 411.3 and 411.5
    • Light Orange — 236.7
    • Permanent Red — 370.3

    Black, White, Grey:
    • Black — 700.5
    • White — 100.5
    • Warm Grey — 704.7
    • Cool Grey — 727.7
    • Neutral Grey — 704.8
  • Thanks - yes these are the colours in the instructions too. It seems that the typical range would be working in the umber - raw sienna range - the line side shed is 411.3 which is much redder.
  • Hi James. I have just started attempting to do my stripwood for my O scale Tool shed and although the examples posted on ths web site of this particular model are works of art, they all appear a bit on the Brown/ blonde side for me. I will be modeling a Eastern region, where an old aged structure has more of a bleached grey appearance. I tried using Rembrandt 704.7 and the result was that it appeared too much like grey painted boards. I ended up using my brass wire brush and scrubbed it all off. So I hope someone has some recommedations on how to achieve the look that I am after....
  • James - if you use the same base on all of your structures the layout will start to look dull and flat. A natural variety is much better and more prototypical.

    Woody715 - try buffing with some fine steel wool (buy the 000 size in the paint dept. at the hardware store) after you have weathered the wood and it has dried. This should send you in the right direction.
  • Thanks all - I see your point Brett. As u have said before, texture, blending, and depth are the most important things- shouldn't worry too much about colour. There's actually a photo of u guys (with Karl and Kevin?) with a diorama in the background of what I was thinking of! - the line side shed across the road from the tool shed - and they looked fine together (I was also thinking of giving the shed to the woodcutter as that guy looks like he could use some help).

    I did come across a simple base colouring recipe I like: 20 ml of transparent ink in 1/2 litre of 70% alcohol - brown or sepia (I used sepia because I couldn't find Bombay inks). Mix the ink in a bit of water and add to alcohol. Soak for any time up to 10 minutes- this yields a nice faded warm brown - looks like not too old cedar to me ( being a west coaster). Transparent inks stain differently than pigment inks and really get into the wood. Afterwards brush with 000 steel wool. This weekend when the brood is out ill practice washing in some chalks on test pieces. I tried some weather-it on some of these pieces and they look great.

    For newbies who don't have a stock of precious basswood, I've been using coffee stir sticks I pick up from coffee shops when feeding my addiction to espresso. They're not basswood but good for experiments + they can be scribed, and tagged etc. for future reference.
  • Thanks for the hint Brett. I redid the staining with 408.3 and with a little white chalk powder(as per your video) added and then used the steel wool and lightly rubbed the boards down. I then used IA and once dry gave then a final light rub - I was very please with how the turned out (much better). Have all the walls built and just finished installing the windows this evening I will post a picture or two once I get a little further along. Cheers.

    Wayne Woodland
  • Has anyone tried the Pan Pastels yet?...I was able to get a decent price...and was interested if anyone has experimented with them....
  • edited August 2013
    Be judicious in usage with the pan pastels, one problem I am aware of is that people use too much.....
    However, the sticks as prescribed in the manuals give you much more control over quantity and also very importantly texture ....

  • Be judicious in usage, one problem I am aware of is that people use too much..... The sticks as prescribed in the manuals give you much more control over quantity and also very importantly texture ....

    Karl your right. I've used both and found that you have much better control with the sticks.
    Not that the Pan Pastels are bad there just a lot harder to get the control your looking for.


  • Thanks for the info.....I have been using the sticks and have had good results....the Pastels look like they might be good for final enhancements.....will play with them and report back....
  • Lots of good ideas here. What should be the colour of the wood? well that becomes a bit of an artsy question. Colour of Weather wood can vary greatly dependant on the type of wood, the exposure to the sun (north vs south), acid rain, air pollution etc etc. So my choice is to have what I am use to in my environment, enjoy and have fun.
  • HAs anyone heard or seen Karl A recently? I miss his posts and wonderful craftmanship.
  • I would also like to know where Karl is. His craftsmanship is so outstanding.

  • edited December 2016
    I'm experimenting with a peeling paint effect. From left to right:
    1 Ranger crackle paint-yellow then wet-brushed with Vellejo white
    2 AK heavy chipping with craft paint on top-similar to mineral spirits method
    3 Same as above with heavier chipping
    4 Ranger crackle paint-yellow
    5 AK heavy chipping with Vallejo white on top

    I like the Ranger, but it has been discontinued so probably not a good option to use. The chipping fluid is water based so it has the added advantage of being able to chip more than once. Only being able to chip right away was a big drawback I found in using the mineral spirits method.

    The downfall I see with the chipping fluid is that I am not seeing the crisp chips that I wanted to see...they appear somewhat blended. I'm playing around with using tape vs a brush to chip the paint. Also, each test here was with one coat of paint. I'm going to try several light coats and see what I get.

    The boards are 6"-8" wide, O scale

  • edited December 2016
    I think they all look pretty darn good! The thing I notice about the specific "crackle" paints is they give the "checking" effect that mineral spirits resist layer and paint do not. That is best illustrated here with the 1st and 3rd board. Keep us posted Bryan, great thread and excellent addition.
  • Thanks Ken. You are right about the checking effect. I really like that...if it is in scale. That is one of the hard parts about using the crackle paints. They are very thick and hard to work with. I ordered a different brand today to give it a try.

    I tried thinning some of it with water (blue on the left) and matte medium. The cracks turned out nice and small, but it was very hard to chip off. I rubbed some pigments on one to highlight the cracks.

    The white board is starting to look right. I'm using chipping fluid as a resist, just like using mineral spirits. My hope is that since this method is water soluable, more can be chipped later if I want to. I put on a coat of chipping fluid, and let dry. 2 coats of white paint and let dry. Scored with #11 blade and wetted surface. Let that sit for a couple of minuted. Dabbed dry and used Scotch tape to lift chips.

    Beam on right is same treatment except used stiff brush to remove paint. This method seems to remove paint from high surfaces and leave it in the crevices. IMG_0097
  • Bryan, great experiment! By far I like number 1 and 4 boards in your first photo.

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