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Thread: Tips for painting styrene roads?

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    Default Tips for painting styrene roads?

    Up to now, I've always made roads using plaster (by way of Woodland Scenics paving tape, "Smooth-It", and Top-Coat pigment). However, for various reasons I've decided to try going the styrene route on my current layout. And since I've never tried this before, I'd love to hear any tips people might care to offer. The road in question is going to be faded asphalt, and from what I've read, Rustoleum primer spraypaint might be a good way to achieve that.

    Thanks!
    -Mark

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    Roads or Streets?

    Take this with a grain of salt(ed) experience, personal opinion and preference...

    When I worked for an architectural model making firm, (a long time ago...) we sometimes used styrene for roads on certain site models. While you can layout, shape, cut, sand, paint and finish it off the model, very convenient, it tended to look a bit flat and lifeless compared to the surrounding land forms. (often stepped contours, so obvious difference). We used enamel type primers and "spritzes" of texture colors to give a sense of road surface.
    (making the spray can button/tip opening a bit wider with an exacto blade makes a larger paint "spattering".)

    I always look at roads as undulating along with terrain, crowned for drainage and curved for obstacles. Highways do tend to have more engineering and will have less undulating, straighter routes. You often think of streets as being more graded and flat but, depending on terrain, age and material they can show a lot of surface variations other than flat...

    If I was going to use styrene, I would consider experimenting with a thin, .015, material so you can form it over the landscape and possibly give it a crown. But more than likely that would involve most finishing/painting in place...

    Don't get me wrong. I see many successful layouts with variations on road material. I have nothing against any particular material. I have tried several materials. Each has its pro and cons.

    For me, Sculpey polymer modeling compound offers some great road/street benefits. Doesn't take much longer than any other method and is very visually satisfying. Can emulate many materials from mud to concrete and patched asphalt.

    sculpey cobblestone.jpg sculpey clay.jpg

    OLD project pics of Sculpey as cobblestone and clay soil... Not great pics... I had a hard drive crash. May have had other pics. Will try to find some...
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler..............Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life..............Web-Folio

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    I made a road and a parking lot on flat terrain. Looks good but the "weathering" didn't work well. I put it down before the dirt/vegetation phase. I've seen better results here on nsn.

    I used the back of a styrene For Sale sign from Walmart, about .015"x18"x24", $2.
    Made a "road bed" to raise the road a bit above the plywood by cutting the road out of cardboard from a thick Costco Cheerios box. Probably could have gone thicker, 2 layers.
    Scribed around the road bed onto the styrene and cut that out.
    Created a road crown by cutting thin strips of Cheerios box and gluing it down the centerline. Glued the roadbed over the crown and down to the plywood using Elmers and weights.

    Cut and spray painted the styrene with gray primer.
    I have a parking lot - drew white lines and pasted a couple of handicapped symbols (shrunk on my printer from googled photos). I used white colored pencil for the lines.
    Glued the styrene down over the road bed using Loctite Go2 Glue and weights.
    Worked with alcohol/ink washes to make those dark stripes where the tires go. This did not go well. What happened is as it dried, the ink traveled to the edges of each wetted area and sort of created a dark outline around it, which is the opposite of the feathering that I was looking for. I suggest chalks instead. Also the wash diluted my parking lot lines.

    Regarding the crossings, try to get the styrene below the rails. Otherwise cleaning the rails cleans the wash (and even the paint) off the styrene.

    I will have to mask the roads when I do the vegetation.
    IMG_6556.jpg
    IMG_6557.jpg

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    Thanks, Steve. I guess in this instance it's both a road and a street - an asphalt rural road that also serves as the one-and-only street through the town I'm modeling. The terrain is entirely flat and the road itself is straight and doesn't really change in composition or width when transitioning from outside of town to inside -



    I agree that .015" styrene sheet would be the way to go (in fact, it's this very thinness that has me wanting to go with styrene over plaster).

    I've seen lots of pictures where people have used styrene for roads and they look really good. It's just a matter of how to go about getting the color and texture right.

    -Mark

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    Thanks NTB, that looks nice. What brand of paint did you use?

    I've read that spraying from a greater distance (2-3 feet) allows the paint to dry a little bit before it lands on the plastic and results in a slightly rougher texture (IE more realistic looking). Anybody ever try that?

    -Mark

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    I've read that spraying from a greater distance (2-3 feet) allows the paint to dry a little bit before it lands on the plastic and results in a slightly rougher texture (IE more realistic looking). Anybody ever try that? -Mark
    Yes. That is how I paint almost any "stone" surface. Airbrush or can. Keeping a bit more distance does exactly that. Let me add, I texture more at the primer stage to get the "feel" I want then seal with a primer coat as the dry texture can be loose. Then, I add a lighter color and then a darker color, or vice versa, to give a visual texture - probably the more important texture/look. May want to seal with dullcoat. The layers of dry texture do not adhere as well as a wet coat.

    Crack and joint details can be added after primer texture.

    Edit: Closer to 2 feet... 3 seems far, less control. Also, I aim above and let gravity "drop" paint onto surface. An open table, and moving your position helps uniformity. A lazy susan / turntable under work is helpful.

    Edit2: "making the spray can button/tip opening a bit wider with an exacto blade makes a larger paint "spattering"." You can interchange spray can tips. I open the outlet hole(?) of an old spray can tip/button/cap a tiny fraction with an exacto blade which allows a bit more variation in the texturing sizes. Mark the tip as a modified tip and can use again with other colors. Takes some experimenting.
    Last edited by Jugtown Modeler; 4th May 2018 at 05:32 PM.
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    Top coat or craft acrylic works great on styrene also. It gives the same effect as it does on smooth it. I personally am not a big fan of using rattle can. I never like the color and the prep is a pain in the ass unless you paint your road before you put it on your layout. I use a foam brush with a light first coat. This gives the second coat something to stick to for a uniform finish. The only issue I have had is painting road markings with a paint pen. I've used the oil paint and chalk marker pens. They have a little trouble getting a consistent line. With practice they can be done though. (Paint pens work better with smooth it)
    BTW NtheBasement's rattle can roads look awesome.

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    When I made my road that goes across my lift up bridge I tried many different ways of doing until I tried craft foam from Hobby Lobby. It comes in sheets about 1/16 - 1/8 “ in all kinds of colors I bought gray and black and after testing I settled of black.
    I first cut it to fit then laid the pieces on a board and used and ivory paint holding it like mentioned in earlier posts here about 3’above and the the spray rain on it until I got the coverage I was looking for.
    Newely laid down roads in asphalt are black and after cars driving and weather the gray becomes more prominent.
    Added some cracks with very fine tip marker and road lines with colored artist pencils the glued in place.
    After adding Woodland Scenics buff gravel I really like how it came out and how easy it is to lay down and shape.

    011FE0CA-15B3-4216-BB77-6D69258ACCC1.jpg
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    Thanks NTB, that looks nice. What brand of paint did you use?
    Thanks! Rustoleum Automotive Primer.

    Forgot to mention I ran a magic marker along any edges that were still white before installing.

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    @Spookshow, Lance Mindheim has some good tips on painting styrene for streets and roads.

    https://lancemindheim.com/about-us/roads/

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    OK, I cobbled together a number of your tips and it appears that I've landed on a result that I like.

    I started with a .015" thick piece of a styrene and bombarded it from long distance with some Rustoleum flat gray primer. Then, I hit it with some dullcoat. Unfortunately, although the texture was very good, the end result was just a bit too reflective for my tastes (generally speaking, roads don't reflect light). So, I then airbrushed on some diluted WS Top-Coat which did a fine job of killing all the shine.

    So, as far as coloring goes, it looks great. In fact, actually a little too great - so my next step is grunge it up a bit with some Bragdon weathering powder. But the main goal (making plastic look like something other than plastic) has definitely been achieved. So, thanks!

    -Mark

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    Hope to see it on the Hope layout soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by S ARR T 8 View Post
    Hope to see it on the Hope layout soon.
    I see what you did there

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    I see what you did there
    Speaking of which I religiously navigate to your site, your blogs, and the Hope Blog hoping for an update (I don't facebook or twitter) - you have said you would post your reviews here - hopefully could we prevail on you to do the same for your layout

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    This worked out great, now I just need to do it 15 more times



    -Mark

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    Looks great.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spookshow View Post
    This worked out great, now I just need to do it 15 more times
    No, 20 times -- I need five!

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    This thread shows how I do mine, though it was a couple layouts back. Styrene Street

    My one tip on styrene roads that isn't in the thread is if you aren't in a well temperature controlled environment, use pieces no longer than about a foot without putting some gaps in them. One section of my current road where I have about 3 feet of styrene without a joint, it expands and lifts up in the afternoon when it's in the sun.
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