Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Snapping Into Focus

The unpainted foam is a dead giveaway that the scenery isn't finished in the junction corner. 
But there are enough of the basic elements in place that I can tell the scene 
will meet my original vision for this area.

All model railroads start with a vision. Then there's the construction - when saws, drills, plywood, screws, and wires replace all other aspects of the hobby. This phase can be disheartening, and seemingly never-ending when a large layout is involved. The more artistic side of the hobby is put aside in an effort to get the railroad operating. 

Sometimes the modeler tells all who will listen he is so interested in operation that he's having too much fun to build scenery. Frankly, I think it's often not a lack of interest but . instead their enthusiasm for more construction - of any kind - has sucked the fun out of the project and they simply don't have the heart to press on. 

But someone once wrote that scenery is the "the most critical 1/16th of an inch." After all it's what everyone sees in the end. But it's too often the last thing that's done - which is why so many railroads never make it past the plywood pacific stage. 

The background hills are nothing more than painted foam with some ground up leaves added as a forest floor texture. Next step will be to plant the trees. The trees will be fairly dense on the hillside in the center - mostly to mask the unnatural steepness of the slope. But I need make sure the trees don't completely hide the backdrop painting. 

But for those who feel that scenery is at least as important as operation know there's a magical moment - when the layout starts to look less like a "train table" and more like the railroad scene we first envisioned. It snaps into focus. And it often occurs before the scene is "finished."

It's been a busier last few weeks than I had planned - a trip out of town and a couple of intense work projects made more onerous by the current remote working environment have left me feeling like a hollow shell by the time the dinner bell rings. But I have managed to get some puttering done in the basement. I didn't have the heart to install (more) Tortoises. Perhaps I was looking for a project where I, and anyone else, can immediately see that progress has been made. I'll get back to the Tortoise installation chore, but in the meantime I've gotten most of the base scenery landforms roughed in for the junction scene. I even managed to get a car shed and ball signal built up to protect the junction. Was there ever a ball signal at Sheldon Junction? I don't know. I've never seen any proof that there was. I've also never seen proof there wasn't. But a ball signal between a branchline and a shortline hardly seems to out of place and frankly seems a necessity. For the record the ball signal and car shed are a BEST Trains kit. An easy couple of evening build. 

When did your vision for your railroad, or even car, locomotive, or structure build first start to realize your vision? In other words, when did it snap into focus? 

Here's a higher view of the in-progress scene. I find it's easier to complete the scenery on the far side of the track before starting on the foreground scenery. 


Galen Gallimore said...

On the previous version of the Ocali Creek (5 years ago in the previous home) it was when I placed mock-up structures, roads and backdrop images into a scene. Three actual structures had been built and I had been operating there for a while. But something clicked and my enthusiasm increased once those mock-ups and backdrop images were in place.

On the current iteration it has begun to snap into focus only in small ways. Getting all the track laid was good, but when I penciled in the streets I caught a glimmer. The relationship between tracks and the urban grid of streets and structures played a large role in the planning for this particular pike, so I think as that develops the focus will sharpen.

Matthieu Lachance said...

Looking good Marty. Things are setting in a realistic manner and I'm noticing your set up your game since the previous layout. The scenes have a better flow and are more realistic. Sure I did love the old one, but this one is even more promising. Well done backgrounds too, we can instantly recognize the area around Richford!