Emmanuel Nouaillier returns to show his techniques for making realistic looking wooden doors for miniature buildings

To see larger resolution versions of the pictures used in this article, please see the GALLERY ALBUM.

Part one of this article can be found HERE

Image 1
Pic 1, Pic 2, Pic 3, Pic 4, Pic 5, Pic 6, Pic 7, Pic 8,
Pic 1: Slightly different doors form part of a dilapidated wooden building in another of the author’s models. Pic 2: 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.

My previous article in MilitaryModelling (Vol.38 No.1) showed some of the peculiar materials I use to reproduce all sorts of elements found in the façades of French urban and industrial buildings. This time, I’ll 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.

Phase 1. Pic 3 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.

Image 1
Pic 9, Pic 10, Pic 11, Pic 12, Pic 13, Pic 14, Pic 15,

Phase 2. Pic 4 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.

Phase 3. Pic 5 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.

Phase 4. Pic 6 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.

Phase 5. Pic 7 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.

Image 1
Pic 16, Pic 17, Pic 18, Pic 19,

Phase 6. Pic 8 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.

Phase 7. Pic 10 & 11 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.

Phase 8. Pic 12 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.

Phase 9. Pic 13 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.

Phase 10. Pic 14 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.

Image 1
Pic 20, Pic 21, Pic 22, Pic 23,
Pic 23: Things are a little more complex here with a retaining wall in front of the building also with double doors. Again note the tiny finishing touch of the number plate on the concrete door pillar.

Phase 11. Pic 15 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.

Phase 12. Pic 16 & 17 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.

Phase 13. Pic 18 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.

Phase 14. Pic 19 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.

Phase 15. Pic 20, 21 & 22 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...

First published in Military Modelling Issue 6, 2008