Thursday, July 23, 2020

More Backdrop Painting and Why "Social Media" Ain't all that ....

I started adding the next layer of texture to the backdrop - this time I'm trying to get the look of distant pastureland. I'd tried this without a lot of success on my previous railroad - the fields just didn't look "right." The trick, if there is one, seems to be keeping the distant painted pastures from looking like they're on the side of a cliff. You can do that by making the angles of the sides of the open land relatively sharp. It also helps to keep those angles somewhat consistent when one or more open areas are directly above and below each other. 
The trees you see here are really the shadows and forms of distant trees. Next I want to try adding just a little bit of additional foliage matched to the modeled trees. I may wait until some of the three-dimensional trees are in place. 
Overall, I'd give this  effort a C+. Good thing most of it will be screened by trees!
Which leads to the second part of this post, which I'm going to try avoid turning into a rant. Longtime readers of this blog, all three of you, know that I really don't succumb to the temptation to editorialize about any aspect of the hobby - but this one thing just kind of stuck in my craw. 
Since the current health crisis started it's been interesting to watch the impact it had on the hobby. Suddenly everyone was staying home, meaning they finally were able to work on their layouts and burn through some portion of the basement hobbyshop. Others, of course, complained endlessly about the fact all their shows and conventions were being cancelled. 
One thing that was suggested to me was to post some photos on Facebook - " . . . that's where a lot of model railroaders are going - it's really great!" would be a summary of what I'd been hearing. 
I have a Facebook account - I don't really post anything on my feed, or wall, or whatever it's called. I use Facebook primarily to stay in touch with my college classmates, a couple of Navy buddies, and yes, even a few model railroaders. But I'm hardly a regular user of Facebook. 
"What the heck," thought I, "maybe I should post some photos just to share what I'm doing."
I do know enough about Facebook to know to limit my involvement to groups and the like - otherwise you can get quickly overwhelmed with, well, bullshit. (Sorry, I can't think of a better term for it). 
So I posted the photo below to the NMRA Facebook page, as well as the NMRA Achievement Program Page - since my goal in building the scene I've been working on is to see if I can finally get my Scenery AP Certificate. 

I know the photo is nothing to write home about. I was really posting a progress shot on the background. Within minutes, if not seconds, (isn't social media "truly wonderful?") I got a comment. It wasn't a platitude like "good job" or even a constructive criticism like "How are you going to handle the relatively steep hillside behind the track?" 
In those examples, the former would have been fine, but entirely unnecessary; the latter appreciated as a fellow modeler offering some help, or at least some warning about a potential trip wire. 
No, the first comment I got was:
 "Is that rock outcropping the stain from a couch?" <Smiley Face/ crying and laughing emoji>."
Now, I've gotten some weird comments in the past - see the last comment in this post HERE for one that, seven years later, remains the oddest comment I've gotten on this blog. 
The Facebook comment wasn't on this blog, of course, but was just as weird. 
The rock casting is exactly as it comes out of the Cripplebush Casting package - I like it because it's flexible and can be bent to fit the space. 
Maybe this guy didn't like the color of the casting? I admit the lighting in the photo is lousy, since it's a grap shot with my phone, and my focus wasn't the rock outcropping, although for some weird reason he was fixated on it, and seemed to think it was funny that it looked like a stain to him. 
I explained that I plan to do some additional coloration and drybrushing on the thing - which he didn't seem to understand or acknowledge. 
I think moving forward I'll stick to my little corner of the internet - right here. 


Galen Gallimore said...


I think I may have commented on your blog before but other than that you probably don't know me. I am a fellow model railroader who has always admired your work and appreciate what you share on this blog.

Two thoughts come to mind that may seem strange but bear with me. First, in the wargaming miniature painting community they talk about a point during the painting process where the mini just looks horrible, somewhere after the first few colors but before any refining work is done. But the advice is always to push beyond that point, to keep painting, and then suddenly it will begin to look 'right' and eventually come out pretty good.

I think our scenery work is the same way. In our minds' eye it looks great, then we start building and it hits this point in your photo above where it may look nothing like what we envision, and someone may compare it to a couch stain. But we push ahead and there comes that point where the base texture is down and the trees in place and before you know it, it looks great.

The other is on social media. I tried the Facebook modeling groups and found them lacking depth. Not skill or enthusiasm or energy, but the speed at which the posts become old is too great to allow any real dialogue or reflection to carry the conversation beyond attaboys or quick advice. This is one reason I've stuck with blogging.

Thanks again for sharing your work in this way. I appreciate it.

CVSNE said...

Hi Galen,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.
I agree that very often a model looks worse before it looks better.
I'm well aware that while the Cripplebush rubber rocks are really neat, and the colors aren't awful, they do need to be brought to life with some additional shading and highlights - what the Italian masters called " maniera lavata" - essentially you start with a dark undertone or underpainting and then add layers of increasingly intense highlights.

As far as weird - I've been writing and sharing my modeling in one way or another since 1990 or so. I've certainly had my share of critics, but had no idea what to do with (the exact quote): "That rock formation ..Is that the "spot" from the AML couch"

I deal with AML - "Alteration Material List" - essentially a listing of changes, updates, and modifications specific to each ship (a.ka. "Ship Alts"). But I have no idea what that might have to do with a couch.

Just seemed weird.

Take care.

Hope you don't mind, but I put a link to your blog on my blog list on the home page.


Galen Gallimore said...


I don't mind at all - in fact I'm downright honored. I have done the same...which reminds me, I need to update that list. I've been messing with the page layout recently and I'm still not entirely happy with it.

AML - could it be the 'A Modeler's Life' podcast?

Thanks for taking the time to reply, and again for sharing. Were I in need of outcroppings I'd be tempted to give Cripplebush a try.


CVSNE said...

Might be that podcast - would certainly make more sense.
But I'm still confused - what does a podcast have to do with my rock outcroppings and/or spots on couches?