Thursday, April 28, 2022

Worth It?

 Glad I didn't spend more effort than I did on the covered bridge. After I got the smaller distant trees installed the bridge pretty much disappeared from view! 

But I know it's there. 

You can see if it you look really hard - of course you have to stand on a step stool and lean in over the layout ... but if you do that you'll notice it masks the joint between the river and the wall - which was kinda the whole point!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

New Video - Forced Perspective Scene - Part II "Landforms"

 Posted a video update HERE on the Forced Perspective scene. In this video I cover how to blend rivers into the backdrop and the process of creating realistic landforms out of foam. 


In the meantime here's a seriously zoomed in photo of the covered bridge mentioned in the video. Started working on ground texture and planting trees. This is really hard to reach (I knew that going in!) - frankly I should have done the scenic textures on the workbench and then positioned them on the layout. Live and learn! 

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Blending Williams Creek II

The first image is a horribly unrealistic angle "helicopter view" to give some context to how all these pieces fit together on the layout. It's an overview of the area between Williams Creek (you can see Thresher's Mill to the left of the photo) and Stafford Mills. 

I've added the first coat of Minwax Polycrylic - my go to water surface - to the blended river in Williams Creek. This will be followed by at least 3-4 more coats throughout the day.
 Hopefully this area will be ready for final textures and trees shortly. 

Monday, April 25, 2022

Blending Williams Creek and Threshers Mill

After I got my talk basically pulled together for the British Columbia Modelers Meet I looked over the slides and decided what it really needed was another "almost finished" scene to illustrate one of the key points in the talk. So I decided to get the "forced perspective" scene to the point I could use it to illustrate the talk. This is all in the "open country" running area between the Junction and Stafford Mills. I probably bit off more than I can chew, but the result will add to the talk and allow me to have another area of the railroad to photograph! 

Before I could finish that forced perspective scene I really needed to complete the scenery between it and the Junction - otherwise the result may end up looking cobbled together when the goal is a cohesive landscape. That meant I needed to finish Williams Creek and the area inside the mainline curve between the creek itself and Stafford Mills. 

Williams Creek is comprised of two segments constructed at different times. The first is the creek and bridge itself, which is the one piece salvaged from the old layout in our former house. The second segment is the Thresher Mill building and associated falls that were built when we were renting an apartment between houses. 

One problem was the thickness of the base for Threshers Mill and that of the river are not the same - it's not too much difference, but enough that the surface of the water didn't line up. I considered cutting the Williams Creek water itself to make everything fit but the water is Envirotex - not the easiest stuff to saw through - and I was concerned there'd be an weird joint that would be difficult to hide even if the top surface of the water ended up level. 

The edge of the Masonite base for Threshers Mill compared with Williams Creek. 

So the mill sat alongside Williams Creek for more than a year with the edge of the Masonite base clearly visible. After a while I stopped seeing it - until I took some photos. At that point I decided I needed to do something about it. 

First step was to paint the Masonite edges and surfaces
without Envirotex black.
The fix was so easy that I'm embarrassed I didn't take care of this problem months ago. I painted the edge of the masonite and the river bed along the gap where there wasn't any Envirotex with black paint. Then added a slope to the river, and painted that with a mixture of black, burnt umber, and tan to come close to the gravel and sand riverbed. I deliberately made the surface a little rough here, and drew a brush in the direction of the river current to make it appear as if the water is rushing over a submerged obstruction.  

Sculptamold blends the mill stream surface
down to the level of Williams Creek. 

The new Sculptamold "water" was painted to
blend it into the creekbed.

Next step is to finish the backdrop painting and add a gloss surface to the riverbed. After that dries I'll add a gloss coat to the entire creek to blend everything together and "rewet" the water. 

While I was at it I carved the hillside behind the river to shape, and added a base layer of chopped up leaves and dirt. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Some old Slides - and good memories!

 First of all, Happy Easter to everyone!

Work was absolutely crazy for the last six weeks or so. Not only have I been busy with testing of a system I'm working on, the main contract for my company came up for re-compete, and as the proposal manager I really had to ignore everything else until the proposal was completed! 

All that means I got way behind on a bunch of hobby related stuff! My Model Railroad Hobbyist Getting Real column barely made it in on time, and even our Federal and State income tax  returns were filed using the same "just in time" approach. 

I have two things remaining on my hobby "must do" list. The first is an article for the NMRA British Region magazine. I've got the thing written, I just need to take a few additional photos! 

But before I do that I need to finish my keynote address for the Railway Modellers Meet in British Columbia. That meet will be combined virtual and in-person this year, and my presentation will be virtual - you can find out more about the meet HERE

One thing I needed to do was dig out a couple of photos of the original Southern New England layout to illustrate a couple of points for my talk. That meant diving into the slide boxes. 

Two things caught my attention and I thought it would be fun to share them here:

The first were these two maps of the SNE. 

The first shows what we eventually called "The Greater SNE". As I recall, Iain Rice, Matt Gaundynski and a few others figured the SNE won control of the Central New England instead of the New Haven, which gave the SNE a line through northwestern corner of Connecticut and across the Hudson deep into New York. It also shifted the modeled portion of the line away from the proposed actual SNE route and into Connecticut. 

After some discussions with Iain, Matt, Jack Ozanich and a couple of others I narrowed the scope of the SNE to reflect the railroad that was actually proposed and started in the first two decades of the 20th century. The map above shows that version. I was struggling with trying to design paint schemes and logos when Jim Hediger suggested I simply adopt the CN family "look."  This map shows the first use of my Southern New England tilted wafer logo that I can recall. 

The second pair of images show a couple of Iain's sketches for the "large New England mill town" on the original SNE layout. I don't think I've ever published these, but if you're familiar with some of Iain's layout design books you've seen variations on this particular layout segment. 

The town was loosely (very!) inspired by Willimantic, Conn., and ignoring the annoying various crossing New Haven lines allowed us to focus on the CV station area and have a fighting chance of fitting it into the space. Iain called it "Okehampton" at but I never took to that name - on the actual layout it was called Mohassuck Springs (see Model Railroad Planning 2000 for that layout, and to compare the track as we laid it with Iain's initial sketch!). 

Unfortunately the mill town only got as far as the track stage. But these sketches were kind of fun to stumble across. I had a lot of fun developing the concept behind the SNE and most days I kind of miss it. 

But in the meantime I need to get back to these other projects...

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

New Video - Forced Perspective

I just posted a quick video showing the mockup planning process for a scene on the layout that will utilize forced perspective to create a sense of depth and distance. 

You can find the video by clicking HERE