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Paint formula for concrete

Q: I've read your book on automotive dioramas, which I enjoy a lot, and the techniques will work really well in larger scales; but I model in HO scale, and I can't get my head around why most of these types of books are geared toward O-and-larger scales.

I thought HO was the most popular small scale, and I would think that folks who are starting out would need the most help there.

One specific question: do you have a paint formula to simulate older concrete on a plaster base?

- Pat Melec
via E-mail

Ken: Glad you like the book, Pat. There are several popular automotive-modeling scales, but the most-popular always seems to be the one we happen to be working in at any given time, so that's always the one we think all available items should be geared toward!

My diorama book was geared towards 1/24 - 1/25 scale, because that's my personal scale of choice, and the bigger scales present a larger canvas on which to work. It was easier to describe and document things such as nail holes, framing, etc., when they were blown up to a larger size.

However, any technique described in a how-to book can be applied to any scale. Granted, it takes a bit of getting used to, but with patience - and maybe a good magnifier - the same results can be achieved in smaller scales.

As a bonus, superdetailing in smaller scales can produce a greater "wow!" factor, when you load a model with details that the casual observer would expect to see only in a larger scale.

There are organizations of model car and truck builders who work exclusively in HO (1/87) scale), without a train in sight. To see some really neat small-scale vehicle modeling, check out

For a paint formula for concrete, one of the best colors I've used is Floquil Concrete, which is a good match to the real thing. That'll work on any surface, to give a good concrete appearance.

When I use poured plaster to represent concrete, I build up thin washes of water-based, artist's-quality acrylic paint, usually just black (thinned a lot with water) and maybe a touch of brown or yellow, depending on the look I'm after.

Take a look at real concrete, and study the color and the texture; if you can, compare it to color charts from a paint store (you may be surprised how many different shades of "concrete" there really are). Keep in mind things like oil and dirt stains, and stress cracks, when you're finishing concrete, too.


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