City Scenery

Posted: June 4, 2012 in Modeling, Scenery
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So next comes scenery. By scenery, I mean not only ground foam and ballast, but such things as buildings, details, people, and roads. I even consider the track to be a part of the scenery. Rob Smaus has referred to this as “setting”. I like to layer my scenery much as an artist would put layers of color on an oil painting.

I started with the “ground” plywood and painted that a base earth color with latex paint. Next was the track. After getting my track plan in place, I weathered all the track by spray painting it all with blacks and browns from cheap rattle cans.

Before I could lay down the city streets, I needed to determine the placement of my industries. These were going to be major anchors in the railroad scene, so I had to actually get some kits and at least get the final foot print pretty close. My railroad is a gritty city setting, so every building is weathered and aged to make it look like it has seen better days.

Then comes the roads. I have one major road (Third Street) near the front of the layout to set the stage and to get in some street running.

This and Commerce Street near the back of the layout give me a chance to get in some smalltown “Main Street” type businesses and buildings. I use a combination of heavy cardstock and styrene to build the roads up to be level with the rail head.

Once the roads are down, I start adding the smaller buildings. Putting two and three story businesses near the front of the layout forces people to peer over them into the city below. By leaning into the layout, people get a sense of being part of the action. Many of my buildings are built with false backs or without window glazing at first. The objective of this layer is to merely give a feeling of space and proportion about the layout.

Once, I know where roads and buildings will be, I can start filling in the plywood base with ground cover. I’ve used Sculptamold to add some texture to the surface, and to blend in the heights of the street with the lower level. I cover this with dirt from my driveway and then ground foam from Woodland Scenics with the classic wet method.

Finally, the details are added. These include vehicles, roof vents, people and signage. In these last two steps, the railroad really starts to come to life and it feels as if you are looking a city in miniature.

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