Simulating Wear and Tear in Cockpits etc.

Tools 'n' Tips Article by John Wolstenholme in June 2008



This is a technique I have been using a number of years.  I have not seen this used before in any modelling articles/builds, magazine or internet.  It is said you should not use silver paint.  Certainly, if you apply it by brush it can look unrealistic.


Cockpits show areas of bare metal (aluminium) with age/use on floors, edges etc., where the paint has worn away.  There are various techniques in use e.g. (i) silver pencils/pens (ii) applying metallic colour, over spraying with cockpit colour, then selective removal of top colour with solvent/tissue.


The basis of this method is to apply enamel silver paint, using a toothpick, over gloss or satin paints.  The toothpick is chamfered at different angles at each end (for different access) and sealed with thin CA. It is then wet sanded with 2000 grit to remove any ‘sharpness’.  Apply a little paint to the toothpick then wipe it on paper to remove some/most of the paint.

Click on images below to see larger images


By rubbing the ‘coated’ toothpick on floor, edges, raised detail etc., you can simulate bare metal.  It also gives depth to areas of dark colours.  The degree of paint application (taken from paper) is varied to give differing levels of ‘shiny metal’ and by varying the amount/pressure of rubbing you can produce subtle effects.  If you overdo it, a small piece of kitchen paper, barely wetted with solvent, will diminish or remove the silver completely.  However, you need to be careful or you may remove the base paint as well.  I do not use an ‘acrylic barrier’ between the paints. 


For the access ladder I have used both zinc chromate and silver enamel paints to simulate wear through to the primer and bare metal.

I have not tried it with acrylic silver – it may be that the quick drying of this would not lend itself to this technique.  As with anything new, you should first try this out something unimportant, before committing to your model.  Also, the base enamel(s) must be fully dried.

John Wolstenholme


Photos and text © by John Wolstenholme