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Build Journal #5 - Post Apocalyptic Suburbia

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Dan's Build Journal #5

Post Apocalyptic Suburbia



Most recent WIP pictures





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A while back, I purchased a small laser cut, wooden house kit on ebay, I thought it would make a nice project to practice some new painting and weathering techniques, however as is often the case with these things, it just ended up sitting on my shelf gathering dust.  Anyway I managed to find some free time to sit down and start a new build this weekend, and figured now would be a great time to dust it off and start to put it together.


Being a bit of an oddball, I am drawn to post apocalyptic settings, whether abandoned city ruins being reclaimed by nature, or barren desolate wastelands, I just love the aesthetic and atmosphere.  As something a little different to my usual builds I wanted to attempt some kind of post apocalyptic suburban street, long abandoned, decrepit and overgrown.


Unlike previous builds, this is likely to be a slow WIP with irregular updates, as I lack the free time I had a few months back.


Assembling the House - Part 1

The centrepiece of the diorama is going to be a decrepit old house.  The house I am using is a multi-part laser cut wooden kit by Banta Modelworks, it is a one storey building with a large front porch.




Being made of very thin balsa wood, which is prone to warping (especially after being painted with acrylic paint) I started by sealing all the wooden parts with a coat of matt varnish.  Once dry I began to partially assemble the house using wood glue.  I assembled everything except for the roof of the front porch (as it would make painting the front wall difficult and hard to access) and the chimney.  I also assembled all the little doors and windows (Ensuring that I 'smashed' a few of the windows for a more run down look) , but did not fit them to the house just yet because I planned to airbrush the walls and masking the windows with have been quite time consuming.


Painting the House - Part 1

I had quite a specific look in mind for how I wanted the paint job for my building to look, searching online I found this picture to serve as a reference.




I started by under-colouring the house in wood colours.  After priming the house I used an airbrush to undercoat it in a dark brown.  I then went over with a second lighter shade of brown, keeping the airbrush at a downward angle so that space below the embossed wooden slats remained a dark brown, giving a quick and easy basic highlight (zenithal highlight).  




Whilst waiting for the walls to dry, I started to apply the roofing material which is some kind of fiberous material that looks like tissue paper, but is much stronger.  It is cut into 1" thick strips and then glued to the roof in overlapping sections.  This covers up all the seam lines and gaps between the roof sections, and gives them a little texture.





The next step was to apply the houses 'paint job'.  To achieve the worn, chipped paint look, I first painted the walls of the house with Vallejo's chipping fluid (You can also use hairspray to the same effect), taking care not to get any on the decking of the porch or back step.  Once dry, I painted over the walls again in pure white and left it to dry.


With the white paint now dry I used a damp brush to agitate the white paint, with the chipping fluid underneath it the white paint brushes away easily in natural looking patches, showing the wood colour underneath.  With the walls finished for the time being, I fitted all the windows and doors I'd assembled (They still need painting), and then undercoated the decking in a tan colour.




I ran into a little trouble with the back door, none of the doors would fully fill the hole of the back doorway, leaving a fairly significant gap either above or below the door depending on how I positioned it.  In the end I opted to glue the door in a little higher so the gap was at the bottom as I figured I could add some kind of improvised doorstep to hide it.




I've still got quite a lot of work to do on the house, but I am fairly pleased with what I accomplished this weekend.  I am not sure when my next update will, but I hope to get some more finished next weekend.



Edited by Dan S
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Painting the House - Part 2

Continuing on from last week, I started by filling the gap below the back door, I used some thin strips of balsa wood to create some additional clapboards at the base of the door, however this left the door looking too high off the ground, and so I cut and glued together a few pieces of wood to create a little door step.  Next I began painting all the doors and window frames.  They were painted in the exact same manner as the walls, using a base 'wood' colour, chipping medium and a top paint layer, the only difference being that I applied the final coat of paint by hand rather than with the airbrush as masking all the individual windows would have been a pain.  The window and door frames were painted white to match the house, whilst the doors were painted brown.


To further weather the building I applied a grey wash to the structure, and once that was dry I sponge stippled on some mossy green with an emphasis around the base of the house.




Abandoning the roof

The next step was starting the roof.  I painted the whole thing black and then began to stipple on the first layers of dark grey with the intention of creating the look of a tar paper roof, but I didn't like the result.  If I'd kept at it would have probably looked ok by the end, but I just wasn't 'feeling it'.   I decided I would put in a little extra work and create some tiles to give the house a proper shingled roof, however that is going to take some time and so that's now a job for next week.




The Porch 

With the walls windows and door all painted up, I could finally put up the front porch.  This was then painted and weathered to match the colour of the walls.  The decking was then stained with a sepia ink wash, and weathered with a mix of weathering pigments.  With the wood decking complete I next erected the picket fence around the decking, which was again painted and weathered to match the house.


As a final step I dry fitted the chimney, which I'd under painted in a variety of 'stone' colours, black washed and then dry brushed in a stone grey.




Adding some steps.

The kit was supposed to come with 2 sets of wooden steps, one for the back door and one for the front porch, however for whatever reason these steps seemed to be missing from my kit (I had the side sections to the steps, but no physical steps). This was a fairly easy fix however, using the sprue, the housing pieces came on, I cut away some small strips of wood and managed to improvise a set of wooden steps.




With that done the house is pretty much complete, I just need to shingle the roof and maybe touch up a few small details, but overall I am fairly happy with the ancient abandoned look.  The next job is to weather and rust up an old toy car I picked up, and start work on the garden and rest of the street.



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The Family Car - Underpainting a Rusty Base

A good suburban household scene wouldn't be complete without the family car parked on the drive.  For this I used a cheap toy car that looked to scale with the house.




However it was far too pristine and shiny for an end of the world scene, and would need to be aged and weathered considerably.  I started by taking the car apart and then re-priming the body.  I did not pay much attention to the interior of the car, as I will be dirtying up the windows at a later stage.




  Following the primer, the car was sprayed in a base coat of dark brown and then a second coat of terracotta was misted over it in sporadic patches to give the base rust colour.




Once dry, I used some rust effect paints.  First I used a sponge to stipple on some old rust, which is quite a thin dark brown paint with a slightly gritty texture to it.  This effect was applied quite heavily over the whole of the model.




From there I applied the new rust, which is quite a thick, and brighter orange paint, this was also stippled on over the model, but a lot more sparingly than the previous colour.



The Family Car - Initial paintjob and weathering.

To give a worn and chipped look to the paintjob I am going to be using the salt chipping method, if for no other reason than I have never tried it before and wanted to see how it turned out.   I started by brushing water onto the areas where I wanted the heaviest weathering, in this case the roof, hood and trunk and then sprinkled coarse sea salt over the wet patches.   The wet salt binds together and creates a crusty skin over the model.  I also applied a coat of chipping medium to the sides of the car, where the salt would struggle to stick.




Once dried I used to the airbrush to repaint the whole model.  I used a pale off-white with a hint of blue, which is going to serve as the cars 'under coat'.  Some of the salt will blow off when airbrushing, but that is fine it all adds to the end result.  I kept the paint quite patchy, as I didn't want a clean new paint job.




Once the paint is dry, the salt can be brushed off with stiff brush, revealing the rust below with some natural looking chips.




The parts of the car that I had coated in chipping fluid were also scrubbed down with a damp brush in the same way I'd chipped the walls of the house, revealing the rusty metal below.  The next step is to repeat the entire process, but this time painting the car blue so that I have a mix of under coat and rusty metal showing through for a more natural look.



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Very not bad!  Just a suggestion if you are in the states.  Have a look around for Rustall in model shops that specialize in trains. 


If I could find it over here I would pick up enough to last several years.  The rust fluid can be built up from a slight filter/tint to heavy rusting.  The full pack shown above has their black wash which is passable, a paint on dull coat and a dust filter. 

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14 hours ago, snitchythedog said:

Very not bad!  Just a suggestion if you are in the states.  Have a look around for Rustall in model shops that specialize in trains. 


If I could find it over here I would pick up enough to last several years.  The rust fluid can be built up from a slight filter/tint to heavy rusting.  The full pack shown above has their black wash which is passable, a paint on dull coat and a dust filter. 


I'm UK based.  I have seen that stuff on Ebay, but the postage costs are ridiculous. 

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You can achieve a good rust effect with Vallejo Rust and Dried Rust and a bit of P3 Pig Iron.

Is did the plinth of my Pirate Queen that way.





Edited by Glitterwolf
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On 9/24/2020 at 11:59 AM, Glitterwolf said:

You can achieve a good rust effect with Vallejo Rust and Dried Rust and a bit of P3 Pig Iron.

Is did the plinth of my Pirate Queen that way.






It was actually the Vallejo rust paints that I used, no pig iron though. 


P.s - Nice Bonny Ann!




Edited by Dan S
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Improving the Roof

As stated previously I wasn't a big fan of the roofing material supplied in the kit, and felt things could be improved with a little extra work.  I had planned to create my own tiles, but didn't relish the prospect of having to cut out and glue several hundred individual roofing tiles, and so compromised by using some laser cut tile strips.




The strips are made of sticky backed card which can be easily cut to length.  Starting from the bottom of each roof section, the tile strips were applied slightly slightly overlapping one another.




The roof tiles are a little too big for the model and not quite to scale with the rest of the building, however I still prefer it to the original look.  Once the whole roof was tiled, I used a craft knife to lift and loosen a few of the individual tiles and then primed the whole thing black.




I then used some card board to shield the decking and back step, and then used the airbrush to speckle the roof with grey paint.  I didn't want a thick solid colour, and so I sprayed from a distance and misted the surface of the roof until I achieved the desired look.




Finally the roof was dry brushed fairly heavily in an off white creme colour, a second pure white drybrush was applied in sporadic vertical streaks.  The next jobs will be to apply a wash to tone the white down a little,  and to apply the weathering so that the roof fits the decrepit theme of the building but that's not likely to get started until next week now.



Edited by Dan S
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Finishing the Roof

I used a wash over the roof, applying heavier streaks below the raised roof tiles to give the effect of streaking grime. 


Next I attempted to make my own weathering pigments using Pastel Chalks, normally I use Vallejo powdered pigments however I have limited colours and the pastels are so much cheaper, for less than the price of a weathering pigment set (4 pots) I was able to buy a box of 64 Pastels.  To make the weathering powders I just rubbed the desired colours against a piece of sand paper, and applied the resulting dust by brush in the same way I'd apply normal weathering pigments. The colours I used were a mix of browns, orange and a light grey, which I used to lightly tint the roof and create streaks.  I used a soft make up brush to blend the colours.


Finally I used a sponge to stipple on some mossy greens.  Over the top I dabbed on some patches of glue and sprinkled over some fine green flocks to create some patches of heavier moss growth.  I also added some moss growth to the decking and rear step.




I have a few small details to add yet, a old rotten rocking chair for the porch, some litter and debris etc, but I think I am going to start work on the street and garden next.



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