Lyon Valley Northern

This site is designed to promote the hobby of ferroequinology. It also provides an opportunity to show the development of the "Lyon Valley Northern": an HO railroad featuring CN and BNSF action in the West. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments at

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Monday, June 13, 2011



This clinic provided participants with an opportunity to learn a variety of techniques to finish detailed castings and figures for their model railroad. The techniques are applicable to all scales.

Method One: Wood Box

This is a resin casting from Sierra West Models. Brett Gallant uses a special resin method that does not need any cleaning. I used Krylon double flat black from their camouflage line of paints as a primer. I just dust the casting to give it some tooth.  To finish this casting I am using new wood and deck tan acrylic Vallejo paint, Bragdon powders, Mineral spirits and Windsor and Newton Water Soluble oil paint.I mixed the new wood acrylic with water creating a heavy wash and painted the complete casting.  When the acrylic was dry (I used a hair drier to speed up the process) , I used dark brown Bragdon Powders and worked it in all over the casting. After making sure all the wood was covered. I used the mineral spirits as a wetting agent that melted the powder into all the nooks and crannies. I dry brushed and used washes of deck tan acrylic to highlight the logs, split wood and barrel. Just the surfaces exposed to the light making sure I did not destroy the depth created by the Bragdon colour. Next, I mixed the water based oil paint into a standard acrylic model paint consistency and used a fine brush to paint the barrel rims, the metal plates in the box and the nuts and bolts.
I then took some dark rust Bragdon Powder and tapped it over the oil painted parts and blew off the excess.
To finish the model, I washed Isopropyl Alcohol India Ink (mixed 60- 40) over the complete model. When dry I highlighted the wood with a dry brush (across the grain) using flat flesh acrylic paint.  The finished look provides striking contrasts and brings out strong textures and a darker colour. Very useful technique when object is planted in the shadows of a building or under trees.

Click on image for full size


Follow same preparation process as in method one.  I painted some of the details inside the box with acrylics. I used steel, smoke, yellow ochre, and deck tan. Some were painted solid others were just dry brushed over the black to create shiny edges. The smoke can be thinned and makes a nice glaze toning down the other colours when applied lightly over top.  I then dabbed the water based oil mixture onto the nuts and bolts as well as onto the metal bits in the bin. This was random with concentration in the nooks and crannies and in some cases on the exposed surfaces. I used dark rust and medium rust Bragdon Powders dabbing it onto the oil paint very randomly inside the box.  When dry, the final touch was applying some AI solution in selected locations just to create more variation and depth and texture in the piping and exposed shiny metal parts.

Method three: The Work Bench

This method produces a more delicate look to a casting that has lots of wood and grain. This will let the details on the surface of the table stand out more.

List of finishing materials.

Krylon tan camouflage paint, Various Vallejo acrylic paints, Citadel acrylics and inks, artists soft pastel chalks, AI solution and graphite pencil.

Here is yet another one of Brett’s castings. You can see that there are just a ton of details on this work bench.  You can see I sprayed a dusting of the tan to give it some tooth. It also allows me to work from light to dark.  I used some earth tone chalks ranging from yellow ochre, raw umber to medium and dark brown. I gently covered all the castings, making sure there were no areas left exposed. I used the raw umber and browns around areas where there were nail holes and inside drawers. Next I mixed some brown ink with isopropyl alcohol, (light wash). And took a very fine brush and ran it into the wood grain and cracks. I mixed some mahogany ink with isopropyl alcohol and went over the metal pipe and gears on the bench making sure it did not get onto the wood.  I then painted the details with acrylics and applied ink paint and AI washes over them. The bottles were done with a florescent snot green from citadel with a full strength dark green ink wash over them. The tools were painted steel then thin smoke wash and AI. Graphite from the pencil was drawn around the edges showing wear. Pain cans were painted muted grey blues, yellow ochre and gore red and toned down with AI.

Method four: Storage Shelf

Materials: Krylon tan camouflage paint, Various Vallejo acrylic paints, Citadel acrylics and inks, artists soft pastel chalks. AI solution and graphite pencil.

Again a great casting from Brett. This process is even subtler than the last. You want to see all the wood grain yet your eye needs to be drawn to the stuff on the shelf.  I dusted it with the Krylon Tan spray bomb.
As with the previous, I used the chalks to get that nice soft wood colour: not as harsh as the powders.  What is different here is that I used a tiny bit of AI on a fine brush to bleed into the wood grain. It wicks into the cracks right nicely. You may have to go over it a number of times to get it dark enough for your liking. I drew it into the cracks making sure the upper surfaces remained the light colour of the chalks. I also used some brown ink with Isopropyl Alcohol to paint some metal cans and barrels. I used the mahogany for the rust straps on the top of the shelving.  I used acrylics for painting the stuff on the shelves. Start from the inside and work out. I use small flat brushes to get into the back. Lighter colours may take a few coats. Use soft colours such as greys, deck tan, yellow ochre, grey blue, dark red and steel. The bottles are done as in the previous method. I applied a lighter version of each colour as a wash over the under coats to give more dimension. I used AI and smoke wash around bottoms and stacking points to create depth.  The end product is quite convincing and the doodad would look good anywhere inside the structure or on a porch or loading dock.

Method Five: Wheel Barrel and Junk

This is an interesting technique that comes from military modellers. They apply an oil wash over acrylic under coat colours.  Using again one of Brett’s O scale castings as a starting point I did not prime.  I used Citadel and Vellejo acrylics. Brown for the cardboard boxes, steel for the metal parts, the cans were painted a bilious green and deck tan. The barrel was a bright orange with steel dry brushing to create scrapes and raised edges where the paint has worn off. The tire was new rubber paint.  The next step is to mix Windsor and Newton Oil paint burnt umber (not the water soluble one) with turpentine so that it at an acrylic paint’s consistency. Then apply it in all the nooks and crannies. Such as between the tires inside edges between the junk and the barrel, on the grooves on the cans and parts as well as between the wheel barrel and the tire.
Next take fresh turpentine on a clean brush and paint the untouched surfaces next to the oil paint. Then with fresh terps, feather the oil paint and let it wick onto the clean surfaces. Let it dry for 1 week and then dull coat.


Figures can be improved on in any scale. The smaller scales in particular may appear difficult to do as most of us put basic colours in places for the clothes, skin and hair. In this presentation I will show two methods for enhancing their appearance.

Method one is to use acrylic under coat with ink washes.  The figure on the right wasgiven white priming the one on the left is white primed with a dusting of black.   A darker primer will warm the finished colour, while white keeps it bright.

Here are the undercoat paints. Vallejo New wood, deck tan, beige, leather, black\brown and flat flesh were used. The tie was done with orange and brown mixed to make rust.  A flesh ink wash was applied to the face and brown ink was applied to the suit pants and hair. It darkened everything. I needed to come back with a wash of the original colour to bring back colour to the cloths.

Method two is to use acrylic under coat with dark and light acrylic glazes which are like a wash but only applied in raised and recessed areas.
The figures are primed as in the previous method.
The under coat is applied as in previous process.

Here you can see the dark areas applied to the coat and pants. Also there was a flesh glaze applied to the face. If you wanted you could go over the raised areas again with a lighter version of the beige to highlight.

All in all the 45 minute clinic was great fun with lots of question.  Participants got to handle all the products and the finished details and figures were passed around and examined closely.  I also had some dioramas so they could see how these fun projects can enhance the model railroad.


Blogger Wayne Woodland said...

Hi Chris - Just wanted to stop by and thank-you for adding a comment to my blog (Nottingham Sub). I think your suggestion about leaving the blog up is a good one and I think I will do just that - I will give periodic updates about my On30 modular groups activities. On another note, being in On30 now, I have just ordered my first Sierra West O scale kit - I really want to improve my skills in my favorite area of the hobby - structure bldging. So your post really has got my intrest. I enjoy reading about your techniques. I see that you are giving a clinic at the Fine Scale Expo in Peabody in October. I am attending and look forward to meeting you. Cheers.

Wayne Woodland

4:21 PM  
Blogger Chris Lyon said...

Good to hear from you Wayne. I am sure will enjoy the kit. You should join the Railroad line forum as it provide lots of insite on how to build craftsman structures. My clinic in Peabody is on backdrop painting. Looking forward to seeing you there.

5:31 AM  

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