How To Add A Super Realistic Rust To Your Model Trains

abandoned railway wagon rustingAbandoned rusted rolling stock is a frequent sight on many railways. Learn how to apply a cool rusted effects to old trains for that abandoned, left-behind, look to your sidings.

Take a look around any real-world railway siding and it won’t be long before you see abandoned rolling stock. Such wagons add considerable authenticity to your layout and as they obviously don’t need to work you can get old broken wagons to use cheaply from eBay.

Now it’s just a question of adding rust and here are three simple steps to achieve a realistic rust finish.

Read the full article, including step-by-step pictures, here.

1) Paint the base colour

First paint your object the base colour that you want. Black is good for pronounced rust. Do not use a water soluble otherwise the rust effects will remove the base coat. Go with a glossy or semi-gloss base coat, the wash will tend to wander into the deepest cracks and recesses and avoid the high points.

2) Apply A Wash

Using a wash of the Burnt Sienna apply liberally over the whole surface and soak up puddle spots with a paper towel.

If you use a thinner wash, you may need to repeat this step several times and build the effect slowly to a point of your choosing.

3) Dry Brush Severe Rusting

For spots of more severe rusting and sharp edged places paint on the Burnt Sienna full strength. You can also paint in a bit of Burnt Umber for that darker brownish type of rust.


For metal surfaces, dry-brush a thin layer of the silver acrylic across the surface.

Picture credit, R~P~M

If you use this technique I’d love to see your results. Tweet your pictures to me at @modelrailwayeng

Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.

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