Sunday, May 20, 2018

2nd time's a charm!

The test area for ground cover colours is done.
And I'm delighted with the results.
The first attempt didn't quite go as I'd hoped,
I used Scenic Express's fine dirt as a texture base, which I'd sifted in place over a coat of brushed on white glue, I then scattered yellow and burnt grass ground foam over top and secured it in place by wetting it down and then dribbling thinned white glue.
The dirt absorbed the glue and went darker than I'd hoped it would, so either a rethink or remedial action was called for.
So I thought perhaps sealing the fine dirt would help the absorption issue, so I airbrushed the area along with a freshly applied patch of dirt. I used Tamiya tan and light grey to lighten the base colour and try and get the ground closer to the tones seen in this image of Clovis.

And then I reapplied the 2 ground foam colours and glued them down. This time the base tones stayed the way I wanted them.
I added a few scrubby plants,
And then out came the static grass.
Lots of tall yellow grasses.
I mixed a small amount of green to prevent a monotone effect and I'll be alternating between the Noch yellow grasses and the Silflor autumn colour and yellow 4mm and 6mm lengths.
Touch up the ballast edges and we're good to go.
Now it's time to build some turnouts!

Saturday, May 19, 2018

About backdrops and a lesson in colour theory

Recently, Tony Thompson blogged about simple skyline backdrops.
I was struck at how nicely his thinking dovetailed with mine regarding backdrops.
While I admire the talents and skills some put into highly detailed backdrops, I do not subscribe to that approach. Backdrops should be there to "frame" the layout, not upstage it. Backdrops should not draw the viewers attention away from the stars of the show, the trains and the supporting cast of scenery and structures.
Further along in his posting there was a photo of Brian Moore's layout over in Plymouth, England;

I was immediately taken with the colour choices  made on the sky and hill profile.
I shared this image with a friend who used to work as a Scenic Artist in the film industry, who pointed out to me that part of the success of the colour choices in this image is that they are in the same tonal range.
That is, go to the paint store and have a look at the paint chip cards that have 6-7 colours on one card. All of those 6-7 colours are in the same tonal range. My artist friend suggested I choose my colours off of the same card.
So I printed a copy of Brain's layout photo and trotted off to the paint store. Finding the sky colour was easy, but it took some time to find a card that had an acceptable sky colour and a nice hill colour but find one we did.
I selected a gallon of the colour shown on the left of the card and a gallon of the colour on the right end of the card, came home and practiced on a 3' section.
To say that I was pleased is an understatement.
Test bit done, I took a couple of evenings and did the entire backdrop behind Clovis.
There was just one more thing to do, I noticed, while in the paint store, that there was a haze effect in play on Brian's backdrop. A detail which really helped the overall appeal.
So I went back to the paint store and bought a quart of the next darker tone from the "sky" colour, thinned it and airbrushed a haze over the hills.
Just enough to slightly soften the edges and reduce the starkness.
I'm super pleased with the end result. And the backdrop colours, by accident, work nicely with the ground cover colours as well.
Glad I listened to my Scenic Artist friend!

Monday, May 7, 2018

And then there were 3!

With the tender trucks now oriented correctly SP #1802 is fully programmed, running nicely and weathered!
I'm very pleased with the results of my weathering. Just the right level of dirt for me on these workhorses.
It will be hard to choose which one to use on any given day.

It maybe my layout...

But Trevor writes about it so much better!

Might have something to do with the fact that he is a professional wordsmith.
At any rate, Trevor describes much of the thought processes and activity that as lead to the current state of the layout.
Since Trevor's visit, ties are all in in Clovis and about half is ballasted.
Scenic Express #50 Light Gray Ballast.
I'm really liking the colour and the fine texture. Wish I'd used this fine stuff before. Looks much better.
Still racking my brain thinking about how to best replicate the grassy California look. Many options to consider

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Trains are stupid!

I've been chasing this problem for a couple of days now.
The decoder wasn't responding. Couldn't load the sound files or do any other programming.
Thought maybe I had a bad decoder.
Maybe the plug connector between the engine and tender was faulty.
Wrong wires connected in the wrong order.
Nope, nope, and nope.
Finally found the problem just now.
The tender trucks were turned around.

The Noive!

To steal a line from the Cowardly Lion!

It's takes a certain amount of courage to dig out the airbrush and weather brass locomotives.
But I'm glad I did.
I think they look great, just the right level of filth for hard working Valley Mallies.
A big shout out goes to Alan Houtz and his guiding videos on TrainMasters TV.
I learned a few things and got to work with new products and techniques.
Now if I could only figure out why the decoder for the 3rd loco won't work.