Saturday, March 27, 2010

Painting a background

I have a 30' cycloramic backdrop around the area of my workshop I use for building models. It makes photographing models a lot easier because I can just point and shoot.

The backdrop is painted with a sky-blue color in the top half graduating to white at the bottom. It was really a quick and dirty paint job done when I installed the backdrop.

In the next few months I'll be building a sugar train railroad based in the Caribbean. It'll be on some fictional island surrounded by lush jungle with evidence of past volcanic activity. The display will only be about 8' long so I built a frame in front of the backdrop to set it on. My plan is to make the train display 2-sided, with equal amounts of detail on both sides. It can be turned on the frame so both sides can be viewed and photographed.

I wanted a "south seas" backdrop behind the display. Something simple, showing high clouds and steep volcanic peaks. I started by repainting the sky blue areas at the top of the backdrop and worked down to white at the bottom.

1 - I added the distant hills using the sky blue color mixed with a lot of white and a little hookers green.

2 - For the second and subsequent layers I added more hookers green to the palette.

3 - Between each background hill layer I sprayed flat white auto primer to dull the colors and add a haze effect.

4 - For the closer hills I used black, hookers green, unbleached titanium white, and green gold - as you can see on my palette.

5 - My brush is a 1.5" China bristle, sold for $.49 at paint stores. The older the better because the bristles soften after repeated washings and are perfect for painting trees.

6 - My technique is really nothing special. I mix the colors on the palette and apply them to the backdrop in a stabbing motion. I try to get a mixture of all the colors on the brush to get an interesting light and shadow effect.

7 - For the closest trees I put medium green, burnt sienna and the titanium white on the palette and applied them with a fan brush.

8 - The last step was to mist-on more flat white spray paint to bring everything together and to dull the colors slightly for the illusion of distance.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Turbo Tree Demo

At the Amherst Railway Society train show in Springfield, Mass. Hal Reynolds of Atlantic Scale Modelers was at the table next to me. All day he would demonstrate making trees with his new tree-making devise, the Turbo Tree. Here's a video of his demo. Check it out.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

When we delivered the Nantucket Railroad Display to the Whaling Museum on the island of Nantucket, Mass. Hal Reynolds set-up his Canon digital camera to record the assembly process.

The camera is sold with software that allowed us to take over 14,000 still pictures at 12 second intervals. These were loaded into iMovie. I edited the stop motion video to almost 6-minutes, added titles and music, and saved it in Quicktime format.

Here it is, enjoy!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

The new Elk River Ry. & T.I. too!

Many years ago Bob Hayden and I built the HOn30 Elk River Ry. It was featured in eight articles in Railroad Model Craftsman magazine. The little railroad was a test bed for the new (at the time) Mini Trix trains. These were HO scale trains that ran on N scale tracks making them "narrow gauge."

The layout was very popular and got us thinking about what other HOn30 projects we could build. I like the waterfront and Bob likes the 2-foot narrow gauge railroads that ran in the state of Maine. So we combined our interests and created Thatcher's Inlet, an HOn30 waterfront railroad, with a Maine 2-foot theme. It was also featured in a series of articles in RMC.

These two little railroads launched us into bigger and better HOn30 model railroads. But times changed...

Jump ahead 30 years. Bob decides it's time for an O-gauge version of the Elk River with a waterfront section similar to Thatcher's Inlet. I travel to his workshop to help build the frame and to paint the backdrop. The next year, while in Bob's workshop to make a video, help him build and paint the waterfront. Bob rebuilt many pieces of Bachmann rolling stock to look more like the Maine 2-foot trains.

So here we are today. A new model railroad based upon the old.

Photo by Bob Hayden with his new 12mm lens.