Chrysnbon Tub Tutorial

There’s a foot of snow on the ground this morning and I’m huddled in front of the fire with my coffee. But come summer, there’s somewhere else you can find me: beating the heat in a hog trough. Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it. Now mine, that’s just for me. And my dog. And maybe my son and husband. Growing up, though, I wasn’t so particular. This piece is about those memories, and an ode to lazy vacations everywhere.

I’ll do another tutorial on the base, later on, if anyone wants to see that. Here, though, I’m focusing on the tub itself. The first thing you’ll need to do, to make one of your own, is to gather the supplies. Specifically, you need:

  • A tub (from the Chrysnbon bathroom set, preferably)
  • primer (I use this kind)
  • a base color for the tub (I generally use whatever off white/vaguely tub looking color I have open, but favor Rustoleum)
  • varnish (I use Mr. Super Clear)
  • various paints, washes, and soft pastels in the color(s) of your choosing (more on this below)

Before we continue, it’s worth discussing the fact that, if given the option, I almost always do my base coats via either aerosol or airbrush. I just think the final finish is nicer, especially when I’m trying to replicate something with a highly smooth texture. A real enamel finish is baked on; slight graininess is okay but brush strokes ruin the effect.

Now, onward and upward!

The first step is building the actual tub. Being a perfectionist, I sanded the heck out of the plastic, filled in any dips with putty, and sanded the heck out of it again. Is this stage necessary? Well, that depends on your goals. When I first started working with plastic, Chrysnbon in particular, I found it super intimidating. Chrysnbon is a font of, in a word, potential.  Most of these kits aren’t exactly ready for paint straight out of the box. I worked up to this level of customization, over years of mistakes.

After finally assembling the tub and, separately, the fixtures for it, I primed and painted both. I don’t think the brand, or color, of paint really matters but as a general rule I favor Tamiya (and, in a pinch, Rust-Oleum).

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I’m a big fan of cleaning up your work station. I like to end every day ready for the next. So after attaching that weird little faucet apparatus (I use Zap-A-Gap ’cause screw “model glue”), I left things to set overnight. Just because something “feels dry,” doesn’t mean it is. Rushing through any project only creates disappointment. Trust me, I know.

But anyway, these are the paints, washes, and soft pastels I used:

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Do the specific colors matter? No, I don’t think so. More so than a specific brand, or etc, I look for what feels “right.” A lot of products that promise to be moss, well…aren’t. The other thing I do, for every project, is I create a color chart. I want to a) remember what I used, and b) make sure, before I start actually painting and possibly creating something hideous, that the colors I’ve selected actually look good together. A lot of times, out of the bottle, they don’t.

The next step, of–finally–actually weathering this thing, is the fun one. At least, if you find time consuming things fun. To successfully replicate the process of aging, it’s important to think about how things like rust and etc actually occur and over what timeline. And the key word, especially with anything exposed to the elements, is accretion. Nothing develops in one layer, because nothing develops overnight.

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I began this process with multiple, VERY spare layers of washes. After each one dried, I sanded part of it off (using a 1500 grit sanding sponge so as not to cause scratches). There’s no “right” number of times to do this, or amount of grime to deposit. How much you’ll want, of anything, will depend on what you’re trying to achieve. This is a really, really gross tub.

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For rust, I used a combination of rust-colored paint and soft pastels. Rust has quite a soft, powdery texture that soft pastels tend to replicate well. I painted the outside of the tub the same way, working in some darker colors for lowlights. I wanted to preserve the tub’s details.

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The last steps, of course, were to “fix” the tub and then attach it to the base. I usually use Mr. Super Clear, but–regardless of brand–I always use spray varnish. I’m not looking to undo hours of effort, which is what happens when you brush (any kind of) liquid over powdered pigment. I waited for the tub to cure, about 24 hours, then used Zap-A-Gap to fix it in place.