Interview: Rob Ferreira

We had a happy chance to ask some questions to Rob Ferreira, famous American modeler, an outstanding master of rusty models. Rob was kind to share a lot of secrets and techniques! A very interesting story on creating abandoned, chipped and corroded vehicles.

Hello Rob,
Thanks for sharing with us!

We know you as an outstanding master of rusty and abandoned vehicles models, where did this specific interest come to you from?

I don’t consider myself a master of rusty models, just some one who loves to build, paint and most of all share what I know with others.
I’m not really sure how it started. I do remember doing a couple of wrecked and rusted cars long before I focused on mainly armor. What really sparked my interest in rusty armor was an article in a German model magazine, about 8 or 9 years ago, of a wrecked Pz III by Mig Jemenez. That really got me hooked.

Most of our colleagues avoid building the models of destroyed subjects, because they want to see only the operationable models on there shelves, but all of them would be happy to examine such scaled wrecks built by another modeler. Why is it so?

I’m not really sure why that is. It could be that there is quit a bit of work and research involved in portraying a wreck. Most modelers do the knocked out type, where there is some damage there, enough to show it is knocked out. A good wreck involves scratch building and cutting up a perfectly good kit. I think this is what keeps most modelers from attempting a wrecked/destroyed tank. Then there is the painting aspect of a wreck, which is a bit more complicated than just applying a coat of rust and black paint.
I too enjoy seeing models and especially wrecks built by other modelers and have gained a lot from that.

You are the modeler with 30-years experience, What was the hobby like in your younger years? What were your first models, do you remember them?

Rusty PzIII

When I started building models back when, I built just about anything and everything. Back then, and even 20 years ago, the selection and quality of the kits was not like today. There was more creativeness and improving on your skill level. I started doing more of the armor about 20 years ago when you had to do a lot of scratch building with an old kit to depict a particular variant of a tank. Now you can buy almost any tank and its variant, which I think has taken some of the fun out of the hobby.
My first models were planes and ships, mainly from Revell and Monogram, what kids back then normally built. I remember saving my allowance and walking 2 ½ miles to the nearest hobby store.

What was helpful to you on your modeler path? Can you define the most important books, magazins, web-sites, persons?

Naturally model magazines and the internet were most influential, as it still is today. I lived in Germany for ten years, and moved back to the US six years ago, and was inspired the most by European builders and magazines. I think most of the new trends and techniques started there, and developed into what it is today. The Italian and Spanish have and still inspire myself and I am sure many other model builders with their unique style of painting. There are of course some very talented builders here in the US that give me a lot of inspiration, such as Mike Rinaldi and Rick Lawler.

M4 Sherman PTO

Who in model community inspires you today?

There are too many to name that inspire me. The most influential person on the top of the list would be Mig Jemenez. His experimenting and developing new and different techniques has given me the motivation to do the same in the rusting side of painting.
I am also inspired by many other builders such as Adam Wilder, Mike Rinaldi, Rick Lawler, Per Olav Lund, Jose Luis Lopez and many other model builders.
Each builder has his own style of building and painting, and we can learn from one another, which is what the hobby is about.

Have your ever noticed some interesting models made by Russian modelers?

Most definitely. I have seen many models built by Russian builders when I lived in Germany, and still see some fantastic model today on various web sites, such as Missing Lynx.

Where you find ideas for your models? T34-85 for instance, have you seen it somewhere?

A forgotten Victory memorial. Т-34/85

I find most of my ideas from photos in books and most of all the internet. I try never to build a model of a specific tank, according to a photo. Most of the time you only have one or two photos of maybe on side. This makes it hard to build the exact tank, and leaves a lot of guess work for the areas not seen in a photo. I take reference photos of similar wrecks and put it together in my head to come up with how I want it to look.
The T34-85 is not of one actual tank, instead it is a combination of many such monuments that are in Eastern European countries. With the cold war over, and a new generation of people not interested in maintaining or recognizing what the monument stands for, it would be possible to see such a neglected monument.

I suppose you’ve seen a lot of wrecked armor in Iraq, have you been studying them as a reference for your models? Maybe these wrecks even inspired you for starting the new projects?

Yes I have seen a lot of wrecks in Iraq during the Gulf War, but at the time I was only into scratch building and super detailing, so I never took notice of them much. The photos I find on the internet has been a great help in building wrecks of the Gulf War.
I do have one project I am working on of a wrecked T69II during that time, and will be doing another using reference photos from the internet.

Rust techniques are, probably, the most sophisticated for an average modeler. It would be great if you shares some secrets!

T69II turret WIP

I suppose it may seem difficult for some modelers, but it really is not that hard to do. I have been doing this for so long now that it is second nature to me, like a wash or dry brush.
There are no real secrets to it. It only looks hard, but once you know how and what rust, chipping and pealing paint forms, it’s quite easy. As with most techniques it does take time and practice to get the hang of it. I always suggest studying real life examples to see how it looks, other than in photos which often does not show true texture.
Another thing is that it does involve using various painting materials, to achieve different effects. Sometimes a mistake in painting can benefit to end result, and give a more realistic appearance. I always say to “go for it”, the worst that can happen is to start over again, as with any technique.
This is one of the main reasons why I started the Scratchmod web site and forum is to show and help fellow modelers who would like to build a wreck or rusty vehicle. I believe it is the only armor modeling web site that deals solely with the types of weathering I do. I try to keep it updated, adding some different techniques that I try out. Hopefully it helps modelers as a useful reference, and provides some inspiration.

Can you describe methods for replicating raw steel plates and metal drums?

Well, this is one area that I am still experimenting with and is not so easy to describe in a few sentences. Raw steel plates that have begun to rust is a bit of a challenge to make it look real. The various types of metals and how they are manufactured plays an important part in the painting process, not to mention oxidation.
My Heuschrecke for example was painted using different techniques to show different types of metals at different stages. A good reference to me was the awesome Hetzer by Adam Wilder.
Basically it is the use of several painting methods, using different painting materials such as acrylics, enamels, oil paints and even pigments. The application is also important for painting steel plate and metal drums. Again this involves the use of various means of applying the different paints such as salt and hair spray, a sponge and of course the air brush.
Most importantly, like with any technique, you have to have full control of the paint to make it do what YOU want it to do.

Hueschrecke IVb

We know an old technique of salt chipping. How did you improve this method?

I experimented with different ways of applying it, and most important removing it and the paint. Most of the time it was by accident.

What are the advantages of using the hair-spray method for chipping?

The biggest advantage to the hairspray technique is that it gives a more 3d effect, opposed to painting chipped paint. Both work hand in hand to achieve the best results. The way the hairspray is applied and removed also plays an important role in the overall chip effect. Another important thing is the paint that is applied over the hair-spray.

A very interesting method of cracked and peeled paint-what are you secrets, what material can you recommend for this?

Some of it is trial and error, and of course different methods. I have experimented with a medium called Crackle, but found it to be uncontrollable. It does have some advantages in depicting old corroded metal when used in layers.
For old rusty and chipped vehicles I like to combine the salt and hair-spray techniques applied over a thick oil paint wash and pigments. This method gives more texture to the rusted/corroded metal areas, and gives the paint a more blistered and chipped effect. This is something that can not be achieved with paint alone.
Another method I am experimenting with is the use of rubbing alcohol with the hairspray method.

I was impressed by your method for chipping multiple layers of paint- is this your own invention? Is it difficult?

Actually it is not my invention, it has been around for some time. All it is, is the hair-spray technique applied in layers. What I have done is applied it differently, and again using different methods. I had started out doing it the normal way, but things did not work out so I continued with it to see what the effects will be. By layering different textures the effects are, years of built up paint and corrosion, perfect for the rust bucket sitting out in a field.

What project do you currently working on now? Can you show us some WIP images?

I am currently finishing of a rusty and somewhat dusty Panther ausf G. I used methods learned when I did the Sherman on this one, and am happy with the results. Besides the panther, I am working on the Iraqi T69II wreck. The painting on this one will be a bit different because it will be of a somewhat fresh wreck, so not too much rust.

Rusty Panther WIP

Would you like visiting Russia some day?
We have a lot of rusty armor here, about 20 000 T-72 MBT’s.))) Probably we could share with you a couple of them)

I would really love to see Russia someday. If I could I would take some of those 20 000 T72’s back home with me. I would be interested in meeting some model builders there and to share ideas and techniques.

And a traditional wishes for our readers:

First off is to remember this is a hobby, and we should have fun and enjoy it. Next would be to always try and improve your skills by trying out new methods and techniques. Don’t be discouraged by something that may appear to be difficult, sometimes it’s easier than one thinks. I wish you all happy modeling. Cheers

Rob Ferreira (scratchmod)

Rob, thank you for your answers! It would be really important for whose who ready to learn more new methods of weathering!

Pavel Cherepanov, Vladimir Yashin

P.S. While we were busy translating with interwie into Russian, Rob had finished his Rusty and Dusty Panther:

Some other Rob’s models:

Расскажи друзьям

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What do you think about this work?

Comments (15)

  1. Дм.Бучельников says:

    Супер работы!!!!
    Спасибо, не видел раньше….

  2. Алексей says:

    Недавно видел эту Пантеру на Мисинге, а тут как раз интервью, супер.

  3. Замечательное интервью, а модели просто отличные!!! Есть чему поучиться.

  4. Михаил says:

    Очень грамотные модели, очень понравилось.

  5. По брошенным и ржавым машинам он конечно поймал волну.Очень сильно(особенно Пантера).По рабочей технике,я бы не сказал,что что то выдающееся-обыкновенные работы,не более.Явно не его тема:)

  6. Steve Reid says:

    Я один из тех удачных людей которые конец в реальном маштабе времени достаточно, котор нужно разбойничать для того чтобы увидеть его работу в персоне на выставках и встречах модели.

    Его проекты всегда воодушевляют. Вы имели бы очень трудное время встретить более доступную и более великодушную ванту в этом хобби!

    Огорченно для моего плохого русского!

    I am one of those fortunate people who live close enough to Rob to see his work in person at shows and model meetings.

    His projects are always inspiring. You would have a very hard time meeting a more accessible and generous guy in this hobby!

  7. Вадим Костылев says:

    Модели, конечно, интересные очень.
    Но вот автор скуп на ответы: “метод сложный, много тонкостей, я вам объяснять не буду – вы все равно ничего не поймете”

  8. Яшин Владимир says:

    Вадик, сходи по ссылке на сайт Роба. Там большинство технологий представлены в виде пошаговых фотостатей.

  9. John Murcutt says:

    Thanks for another very enjoyable and interesting interview, with yet another of the modellers who has been pushing the boundaries of great finishes. Only one question, who next?

    John Murcutt

  10. says:

    Well, we don’t know yet, but this will be surely a really good master, as always! Keep in touch!

  11. Сайт Роба Ферейра (Rob Ferreira) вот уже полгода занимает достойное место в списке моих закладок.Первое впечатление,да и сегодня,очень сильное.Это целый раздел в моделизме особенно применительно к виньеткам и диарамам (ИМХО).От меня очередная признательность админам сайт и конечно же Rob Ferreira за его поиски в технологиях окраски и желание поделиться полученным опытом с коллегами.

  12. Awesome stuff, as ever Rob! And so modest with it… He he, you deserve every bit of recognition going Rob. A walking reference library upon wrecks and rusting. Always an inspiration, plus you always surprise me with your next project…
    Thanks for the interview Pavel, always good to hear from a great modeller, a credit to the hobby.

    Cheers Phil.

  13. Я захлебнулся от зависти, нет слов, что бы выразить мой восторг от того что увидел!!!

  14. Robert Burke says:

    Awwww…just beautifully done.

  15. Ostrowski says:

    Simply perfect!!!!