Looking for preferences on what people use for locomotive black. Is this just flat or satin? I bashed a porter and most of it now is brass and copper. Stickly a work engine, no polishing. Was thinking of using Rustoleum products. Please comment, thanks.
Since y'all asked ... Is THIS the effect you're after?
My fast and (mostly) easy weathering technique is here: http://www.catfish-hollow.com/StainzBash.html The base coat black is not one but actually two colors-- American Accent "Canyon Black Satin" and Deco Art Patio Paint "Wrought Iron Black". Flats are OK if all you're doing is painting but you'll need a glossier finish if you want to add decals.
The main question we should be asking you is "What are you looking for in a locomotive?" If it is one fresh out of the shop, then a semi flat or satin finish is what you want. If it is a work horse, then pure flat with lots of rust and gunk is for you. As to brand, ask 10 different people and you will get 10 different answers. Everyone has a preference depending on their skill level and what they want in an end product. You have some good answers above so it is up to you to decide. Good Luck.
I happened to get off my duff tonight to do something else and actually LOOKED in my paint box for black paint. I discovered that there isn't a single "black" to be found... rather I have a largish assortment. All are "black", ( black, brown/black, grey/black or blue/black), but are not EXACTLY the same color black. Most DO get used fairly regularly to help achieve whatever effect I'm after. (In the real world, even if the paint shop applied only a SINGLE paint color, the SURFACE it was applied to (sheetmetal, cast, plate, wood, etc) made it look like a slightly different shade... then add oil, cylinder oil, grease, soot, ash, dirt, shadows, plus sun fading, burning, and oxidation, which are all still black but not quite the same color either, and you get a box full of paints just to paint your loco a realistic basic "black")
In addition to the above mentioned American Accent "Canyon Black Satin" and Deco Art Patio Paint "Wrought Iron Black" I have Rustoleum "Dark Gray Primer".... Floquil "Graphite", "Brunswick Green"(more black than green)... Polly Scale "Oily Black" (green/black), "Grimy Black" (brown/black), "SC Black", "Engine Black"...Tamiya "Semi-gloss Black", "Black Green" (greener than the Brunswick!)...Model Master "Aircraft Interior Black"...Krylon "Satin Black"...Apple Barrel "Black" and another one which I got paint on the label and can't read, but think was called "tuxedo black"....Several spray bombs of various brands in either flat, bbq or satin black... Plus about half a dozen other black acrylics in Kim's art paints which I'll nick if what I have doesn't quite do.
For my 1:1 scale traction engine boiler I'm VERY partial to "Pot Belly Black" because of the really nice blue/black satin finish... but it doesn't work so well on plastics since it doesn't completely cure without heat... LOVE to find a match for it tho
I've never been much of a fan of Rust-o-leum, due to its lengthy drying time. Having said that, they've supposedly got a new formulation (last couple of years) that dries much faster--more akin to Krylon, Floquil, et al. I've not used that, since Krylon's various blacks (ultra-flat, semi-flat, and gloss) all seem to work well for me. Of course, to muddy the waters a bit, Krylon has been reputed to have changed their formula recently, too, and their blacks have "changed." I've not used these new formulations, either, so I can't comment. Typically I'll use semi-flat black on the primary surfaces (cabs, tenders, cylinders) and ultra-flat on the drivers and frames--surfaces which would typically get dirtier.
I'd recommend using a semi-flat black, since it dries smooth enough to work with decals (if you're applying them), then if you want a flatter finish, hit it with a matte finish once you're done. The "work horse" aspect of the loco can be done with weathering after the paint and lettering has set.
You can apply your finish using any of the good suggestions above, or anything else you can think of - but, that's only the beginning. You need a good base color to start with, of course. However, since pure black (or white, for that matter) seldom appears in nature, I always tone it down with a light overspray of "grimey black" or something similar. This also has the effect of making details easier to see.
For example, this Accucraft C-21 model came with a beautiful factory-applied black finish (except for the smokebox.) Here's what it looked like "out-of-the-box:"
I use an airbrush and water-based acrylic paint for this. Before the oversprayed paint completely dries, I go over the model with a damp Q-tip and clean off paint that covers anything I didn't want obscured - like lettering. Sometimes I don't clean it completely in order to leave it looking somewhat faded.
The next step is to wash the model with a black dye/water solution which settles into depressions and textures, like wood grain. The key to success here is to first "spritz" the entire model with "wet water" - water with a drop or two of dish washing detergent in it to break the surface tension, then use an eye dropper to apply the dye. If you let gravity be your friend, the resulting streaks should look natural. I usually lay it on pretty heavy. (I've always subscribed to the theory that anything worth doing is worth overdoing.) Once it (the model) is completely dry, I use my trusty dampened Q-tips again to remove or blend in excess dye.
Next, I dry-brush everything with a water-based acrylic PollyScale paints, right out of the bottle. Usually a dusty tan or light gray, and sometimes rust, but whatever, almost always a lighter color over a darker. I often use a flat, blade-type brush with somewhat stiff bristles to do this to make raised detail pop out and to sort of "half erase" some of the more extreme effects of the dye wash.
After dipping in the paint, I wipe most of it out with a paper towel and then brush even more out on to a pad of absorbent paper until I get just a tinge of color from the brush. I then kinda "whisk" the brush over the area I want to color - letting just the very tips of the bristles touch the work. Sometimes I have to make several passes over the same area to gradually build up the effect I'm looking for. It takes patience, but the results are usually worth it.
The hardest part of weathering is always the first step. Don't be afraid to mess up that beautiful pristine paint job. Almost everything I mentioned above can be undone or reversed. The black dye washes off easily and you can usually re-dry-brush with the original color to take it back to your starting place. It's easy to go overboard - so remember: subtlety is the key to realistic weathering. I've "taken a mulligan" many a time and found that subtle effect I was looking for after doing so.
After masking any glass surfaces, the final step is two or three liberal coats of Testor's Dullcoat from a rattle-can to seal the water-soluble dye and protect the finish. Once this is done, however, you usually can't go back and do any "unweathering" of your model.
Hope all this helps. Good luck and have fun with your project. Be sure to share pix of it with us when you're done and tell us what you've learned.