Sunday, April 4, 2010

Decision Made - Action Taken

Some time ago I discussed the height of my backscenes, now this was from the perspective of taking photos without having buildings or trees, etc. ending up with the garage wall behind them. Getting rid of those bricks and cutting around the trees can be an effort in Photoshop.
I was trying to make the decision about making the backscenes higher and was tossing up just how high.
I originally made the backscenes 14" (400mm) high which gave three strips out of an 8' x 4' (2400 x 1200mm) sheet of masonite allowing 2" (50mm) to be bolted onto the layout frame. I did this as I had some backscenes from Bylong in it's previous abode and in an effort to save money as we were in a new house and there were other things to spend the dollar on.
Well, I bit the bullet and over the last three days I have installed and painted the sky on 24" high (610mm) backscenes across the front of the garage part of the layout above Bylong station.
I have not blended the joins between the sheets as I had to make the backscenes removable for layout maintenance, up with the roller doors and off with the backscenes.
Here are a few quick photos showing the effect, a much greater sense of immersion as the top of the backscene is about 7' (2100mm).

The third photo dramatically illustrates the difference in height of the old and new backscenes.
The second last photo shows that I have got to do some work on the hill scenery leaving Bylong so that the 'lower' sky doesn't intrude into the hill. I will bring the hill forward along the backscene towards Bylong  with the trees 'walking' up the new part of the hill and blending into the upper level tree line better. This will also allow me to improve the last photo by hiding the top edge of the lower backscene in this picture.
Multi-level layouts certainly give a nice long run but at the expense of some interesting challenges.
Of course I now have to replace the existing backscenes with the new high version and my hills that I painted have got to go, which leads to another painting stage, nothing like repeating your work.


Argyle said...

Hello Ray,

The increased height of the backscene is a definite improvement for your Bylong layout. It is well suited to an around the wall layout configuration.

Difficulties arise with backscene height on a peninsula or island portion of the layout if you need to oversight the backscene. On the other hand a high backscene in this scenario would "compartmentalise" the scenes/locations.

I like your presentation of the "backscene dilemna" with a multilevel layout.

The varying angles in the photos make the issue very apparent.

I think your solution to plant trees and move the hill on the backscene to disguise the transition at the hill near Bylong is a good one. It should help to trick the eye when the top of the sky backscene disappears behind the trees.

Keep up the good work and the interesting blogging.

John Proctor

Ray P said...


I once had a peninsular backscene but I abandoned it years ago. My tear drop peninsular has no backdrop and I prefer it that way as it gives a wide expanse of scenery which is great for model photography even if it is a depth of field challenge.

Ray P

Geoff said...

Ray, the higher boards do look to be a better height. The clouds you've painted really look the part. Are there any hints you could pass on that would help another backscene painter? I would imagine you've been asked this before, so I will apologise now. The photos you take at track level, are they taken with the camera on the rails? and, any tips on type of camera to use? Geoff.

Ray P said...


I used only two blues for the backscene and the clouds were done with the lighter blue at the same time that I was blending the blues together. I thought about a third even lighter blue or some off-white but the price of another one litre of paint scared me off.

I did the clouds by smearing the almost dry brush sidways with the lighter blue and then with a little of the same paint I did the tops by coming down from the top, hard to explain.

I almost always shoot from track level and you can read what I do in the October 2008 post on this blog.

If I place the camera on the rails I always put i peice of cardboard under the camera in case the DCC is turned on which it usually is as I move the train, etc.

My camera has a magnesium body and that cwould go off like a flare if shorted and I am sure it wouldn't do the elctronics any good to have 13.8 volts AC through it.

Ray P


Great work, the higher back drops do set off the layout. Thankyou for the reply on aisle widths it has greatly helped in planning the bench space. In planning I also toyed with the idea of backdrop height and settled on the 600 heigh an it can be cut easily out of a 2400 by 1200 sheet or depending on your chosen material can be purchased 610mm by 3600mm.

Thanks again Ray, great work.

Shelton D'Cruz said...

That 4th photo - I thought i was actually there! its so real!!

Ray did you use masonite for the back scene and what type of paint do you recommend.


Ray P said...


I have previously used 6mm masonite for the lower older backscenes but the new high ones were made from 3mm MDF board as I had very little room to mount them without hitting the roller doors and I was restricted in the way I could brace them so it was 2" x 1" pine on edge then the board screwed to it along the bottom. So it also had to be light due to the low mounting.

The paint is only two colours blended together, light at the bottom and the darker one at the top. The clouds are the lighter blue.

Paint both colours at the same time with two brushes and work only about 2' (600mm) at a time working along the baseboard. Keep painting until the whole baseboard is done - a continuous painting job.

The colours are:
Light - Nippon Paints Advance - Skyrocket 2
Darker - Nippon Paints Advance - Skyrocket 2

Flat of course.

It's available at Bunnings.