Saturday, November 3, 2012

plastic card

Using plastic card to reproduce all sorts of features is well-known to us modellers, especially to improve vehicle kits. There are also numerous applications for plastic card in the urban landscape as seen here. These metal framed windows with broken glass panes in 1:48 scale were made to fit into the façade of an old factory.

Scribing onto plastic card will allow you to create doors with the appearance of decay and dilapidation by performing some incisions or engraving some of the joints a little deeper…Like this old garage door I made in 1:48 scale.

Here’s part of a concrete yard in 1:72 scale in the course of being worked. Fissures and joints are made with an engraving point and the point of a needle. An attractive surface finish will be later given with a fine wire brush. The surface after painting and ageing where the porous texture of the foam is wholly adapted to represent this kind of material. Details such as sewer hatch covers, manhole and other small covers, etc., are treated with pigments and graphite powder to enhance their surface finishes.

Forex may be an unfamiliar product to most modellers. It is a lightly expanded PVC and comes in sheets, which are perfectly flat. It is used principally for shop fitting, but can be very useful for modelling purposes, notably thanks to its surface finish, which is less smooth than plastic and slightly softer. Like feather board it can be obtained in various thicknesses; 1/2/3/4/5mm and like feather board this material is easy to glue with contact adhesive or cyanoacrylate and used in this way Forex is also ideal for reproducing basic shells. I use Forex for reproducing very precise construction materials, whether scribing it with tools or using it without any form of specific treatment (architectural details where the natural ‘finish’ of the product makes it suitable for imitating window sills or cement rendered façades. In addition to these applications, the material can be scribed and shaped, which should appeal to the modeller who wants to reproduce certain types of brick bonds in plaster, but the possibilities are evidently and not just limited to the simulation of this type of brickwork.
Plastic card and ‘micro-painting
In my case, plastic card is principally employed for scratch building particular elements in urban or industrial landscapes (yard gates, doors to complete warehouses, etc.) or detailing buildings where I sometimes use Evergreen styrene sections. However, I also use plastic card for another application - scribing it to represent fine wood grain. Why? In the first place the grain of even close grained real wood is still too big and doesn’t look right when used in small scale buildings.

Other results of faded and weathered paintwork on wood with variations in the planks, different shades of colour, rotten planks and so on...

Convincing chipped paint in 1:72 scale needs some skill on the part of the modeller. Check out the result of this garage door in the course of being detailed with old metal plates.

These walls seen after the painting and ageing phase clearly show the results obtained to represent a building that shows long time weathering by the elements.

The micro-painting stage is required to reproduce the faded paint of lettering on wood cladding for extra realism, as well as the weathered paint of an old advertisement on the cracked plaster of this façade.

Some finished 1:72 scale façades created using foam, coating and scratch built details.
In the second place, plastic card is a material with which most of us are used to working, painting and weathering. Turning to the weathering process, the ‘micro-painting’ phase is a widely used and well known-method that will be useful on particular details and elements in the urban landscape. This technique employed only for some weathering effects or to mimic precise alterations on wood, metal, plaster, cement, etc., will add a realistic touch that makes the result different. I use it to reproduce washed paint on wooden cladding, the rusted areas of a sliding door, chipped paint of old advertisements painted on walls, the shades of decay on a façade.

Slightly different doors form part of a dilapidated wooden building in another of the author’s models.

Planked wooden double doors made by the author in one of his buildings. The typically French blue and white enamelled house number plate adds the finishing touch.
I’ll now show a step-by-step sequence showing the simple method that I use to create weather beaten wood from plastic card and the different techniques employed. I will show how to simulate a simple sliding door with chipped paint on it that I intended to fit on the façade of a garage. Of course, the generic techniques applied here for 1:76 scale could easily be adapted and employed for any other items where wood is found - fences, claddings, etc., and for all scales.

This method when applied to a modest door is a perfect example on which to practice carving, trimming and ageing, provided you want to obtain a rather derelict appearance. Weather-beaten wood is a near endless source of inspiration to depict many effects of decay in scale - washy, worn aspects, chipped paint, etc., in fact to create wood I prefer to use plastic rather than real wood for two main reasons: we are all used to building and painting this material and real wood has its own texture with big fibres and the grain isn’t always suitable for realistic effects.

On a 0.75mm thick plastic sheet I first draw the outer full dimensions of the door and then I draw in each plank at 2.5 mm intervals. I then carve each joint with an engraving point, and if you don’t have this tool you can also use your scalpel or modelling knife using the back of the blade to score the plastic sheet.

To eliminate the small bits of waste plastic collected in the joints, I pass a fine metallic brush thoroughly over the surface from top to bottom. By doing this, you will not only clear the slots of any excess plastic, but also obtain really fine ‘veins’ representing the open grain of the wood. To reproduce a deeper grain, you can use the engraving point again, and accentuate this effect especially towards the bottom of the planks.

To break the glowing aspect and impart some ‘life’ to the door, I first perform some incisions on the lower part of the door with the back of the scalpel blade. Then to add more realism, some joints between the planks are deeply engraved. The more you do the more the door will seem old and well used.

The wood is ready and it’s time to add the details using Grandt Line nuts, 0.12mm thick styrene sheet and a thread of copper to simulate the handle. The door itself is stuck onto a larger piece of plastic sheet so that it will be easier to fit it inside the opening of the façade.

The door is given some basic ‘wishywashy’ thinned coats of ‘wood’ colours, fading to grey. This first painting step calls for enamel paints, much diluted with mineral spirit so not to overfill the grain. For this phase, I use five colours from the Humbrol enamels range: Light Grey 147/Light Earth 119/Chocolate 98/Camouflage Grey 28/Sea Grey27. These shades are applied in no particular order with a No.2 Brush working from top to bottom and blending to obtain interwoven shades.

When the paint has completely dried, a wash of black acrylic paint is applied to the surface. At the first, it will appear to negate the previous painting step, but as soon as this wash is dry it will emphasize the grain and the joints.

Now it’s time for some tricky operations. I first ‘mark’ some raised lines between the joints and the worn areas by scraping the paint carefully with the point of a blade. When it’s done, I underline these very small parts with Humbrol Camouflage Grey 28 deposited in minute quantities with a No.0 brush.

The previously applied white and blue paint (this is on the lower part of the door) is simulated by randomly applying larger irregular areas with a No.1 brush and working patiently along the grain. When the paint is dry, I rework each plank with minute touches of the same paint, but this time with a No.0 brush, working from inspiration in accord with the desired result.

After this long micro-painting step, I rework some of the shadows of the joints to accentuate them and make them a little darker. Several methods can be used, but I personally use dry black pigments applied with a very fine old brush that I keep only for this work. The powder is deposited in minute quantities in the joints and then brushed down.

According to the result I require I introduce more variations in the shades of the planks by dry-brushing them with different ochre coloured pigments. To further enhance the finish of wooden parts, I simulate the odd rotten plank on the bottom of the door by applying some light and dark green pigments with the same fine old brush. This will also bring out the patient trimming work done previously.

To ‘rust’ the metallic parts and reproduce the corroded details I first apply a coat of Humbrol Chocolate 98. After a minute or so, I then dab the wet surface with different rust pigments to obtain a texture as realistic as is possible in 1:76 scale. I finally use some graphite powder to underline and give a metallic appearance to the handle.

As I wanted to reproduce old lettering that had been erased from the door (accessories for motors, reparations, etc.,), I used old dry rub down transfer letters that match the result I’m looking for. After having applied them with a graphite pencil, they are inlaid as much as possible into the grain with an old brush with its hairs shortened.

The lettering is lightly rubbed with a small sheet of very fine sandpaper, once again working down and following the grain. Next I used the back of the blade of the scalpel to emphasize the areas where the lettering is more shaded and also to vary its aged appearance.

I again revert to the micro-painting process to complete the previous stages and here I use four shades of acrylic paints (Chocolate Brown, Leather Brown, Ivory and Stone Grey) alternately to improve the scale and almost erased appearance of the door’s inscriptions.

To give a typically French appearance to the door, different and very evocative miniature tin plate commercial signs are fitted after having been lightly corroded on their edges with Shaded Earth acrylic paint and rust pigments. The door is now ready for fitting into the façade of the garage I created with feather boarding and coating, but that is another story...


  1. These are amazing. Great designs ever of the Plastic Card, I have never seen yet. I really appreciate your work.

  2. Now that what i called creativity, can you share video tutorial of it so i can apply for Plastic cards ?

  3. These are mine, in my description, i wrote my blog was just going to be a collection area for all the cool tutorials out there. So besides whats there thats all i got.

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