Graffiti Tips

An upgraded Walthers Cryo reefer sits in front of SALCO on the East Rail 2 layout.

If you’re a modern era modeler, graffiti is part of the landscape. Here are a few tips to make it more convincing on a model.

  • Keep the tags relatively low on the car. They should start at the bottom sill and extend upwards. Avoid having them “floating” in the middle of the side panel.
  • Have the tags overlap. For example, if you have three decals, try to avoid having open spaces between them.
  • Finally, the most important tip, tone down the color! Commercial decals are very vibrant. In the example above I used a very, very dilute flat white wash airbrushed over the entire car. In other cases I’ve taken a “paint by numbers” approach and painted lighter, less saturated colors over the decal.

Working with larger decals takes patience as far as getting them to ultimately sit tight against all of the cars details (rivets, seams, etc.). Use Micro Sol as the setting agent and apply it in multiple passes over three or four days. With each pass, use a pin and super sharp blade to pop air bubbles or areas where the decal isn’t settling tight against the car.