Great tip to add realism to a railroad layout

“Shiny buildings and pristine cars are not realistic in a railroad layout. I would seek to weather my vehicles, trains, engines, etc. a light dulling touch with an airbrush to tone down the ‘sheen’. Airbrush the engines and cars to make them look like they have been on the road. This adds a lot of realism to a layout scenery for a very little work.”


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  1. mike937

    Dull coat can help take the shine off of your cars and buildings too.

  2. Should one wish to return to the original lustre

    of a new peice of rolling stock after dulling etc.

    how can the applied finish be safely removed?

  3. While very shiny cars DO look unrealistic, so do too many weathered cars. Remember, Most people keep thier cars fairly clean most of the time. A coat of a SEMI GLOSS or SATIN clear will look realistic, especially if you take the time to paint the wheels a rubber color, and make any chrome look better. Modelmaster has these paints. People will spend all kinds of time superdetailing their rolling stock and buildings, then just plop down out-of-the-box vehicles.

    Whenever I am in doubt whether a photo is of a model, or of the prototype, I just look for vehicles. If THEY don’t look right, it spoils the whole illusion.

  4. To restore the shine, just respray with a gloss topcoat. Easy as 1-2. I have done it bothways, gloss to flat and flat to gloss. Testor’s spray lacquer do a great job. Get them in a rattle can

  5. Art007

    A lots of layouts look too sterile. Typical prototype rail yards is littered with debris.

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