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T O P I C    R E V I E W
Bbags Posted - 02/25/2003 : 10:24:44 PM
This thread is for discussion on how to do backdrops.
Do you use the simple backdrop with blue sky and clouds and how do you do it.
Do you use commercial backdrops or your own photos.
Any method used can be discussed in this thread.

15   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
kyle creel Posted - 09/19/2020 : 5:25:38 PM
Thanx James,

Thanx Horton,

I shall try to give ya'll some info on how I did my backdrop. After studying John Allen and others, I realized that they were not just making a backdrop. but were in effect creating a 'place'. A place where you can actually imagine yourself being. After that, I just follow the rules if you will, 1. Keep the horizon at or above eye level if possible, 2. Paint or draw all distant objects and clouds first. 3.Work your way forward, using vanishing point perspective. You can read all about it online, google vanishing point.
I use pastels, (chalk) both plain and oil. You can buy them at any Hobby Lobby or Michaels, or any art supply store. This is only my second backdrop. The first was done in acrylics. The fact is I have never painted anything before, or done anything with pastels. I could always draw pretty good, so I decided to try a backdrop. My first attempt got good reviews, but I never was really happy with it completely, and so I continued to work at it, changing little bits here and there until 5 years later I said well I guess it looks done. This time I decided to use pastels just on a whim. I quickly found out that unlike paint, if I didn't like some thing, I could just wipe it away for the most part, or a little soap and water spray and it went away almost completely. I did use acrylics to paint the sky and the basic shapes of the mountains. Darker browns in front, lighter the farther back in the distance. From there I just made it up as I went along. I drew in what might look good, and either kept it or scrapped it. Next I added details, shadows, rocks etc. By the way it is VERY important to determine your light source direction (which way the sun is shining from) before you start. I might also add that the Master...JOHN ALLEN always seriously recommended that you have your layout lighting in completely before starting on your backdrop; as this will help to keep the shadows you paint into the backdrop from the sun, most effective.. Also never place objects, bldgs, trees, etc. in spots where they cast shadows on your backdrop. This alone is one of the biggest boo,boos, when it comes to the presentation of your piece of art, YOUR LAYOUT. Even the most exquisite backdrop can be reduced in effectiveness by the unfortunate shadow on the sky. One other offering if I may, step back and view your work from a distance every once in a while, it'll quite possibly help you place yourself in the layout. After all that's the whole idea, BE IN YOUR LAYOUT. Also there's no right or wrong way, it's your railroad. Oh yeah,...HAVE FUN (it's the best thing to have)

Good luck, hope it helps
darrylhuffman Posted - 09/19/2020 : 12:54:28 PM
This is a link to my Youtube video on painting mountains and valleys:


I have a couple of other backdrop painting videos on my Youtube site including how to paint California Foothills and Pine Trees by Dave Biondi.
bandman Posted - 09/19/2020 : 12:03:00 PM
Kyle, it's very difficult to see where the railroad ends and the backdrop begins...the artwork is fantastic. Any hints on your technique and methods? Thanks for sharing.

Horton M.
jbvb Posted - 09/19/2020 : 08:20:12 AM
That looks nice; any hints on sources for your techniques?
kyle creel Posted - 09/19/2020 : 01:42:13 AM
Why not; here are a couple of shots of my backdrop, it's done in pastels.

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These 3 are sorta John Allen-esque...

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quartergauger48 Posted - 03/28/2019 : 5:49:30 PM
That looks very nice Dave'..Good job!
David Clark Posted - 03/28/2019 : 2:17:04 PM
Darryl, Those are good-looking backdrops. Since I was on this thread I thought I would post pictures of my backdrop I painted. Nothing fancy, I used a 1.5" brush to scrub in the clouds on some blue and added a bit of grey to show the shade on the clouds. The greenery started with a bunch of green and yellows stippled, daubed and scrubbed to represent bushes or deciduous trees. The evergreens was a darker green painted in using a fan brush on its side. I watched a few Bob Ross videos before trying it.

http://www.railroad-line.com/forum/data/David Clark/2019328141559_IMG_1784.jpg
darrylhuffman Posted - 03/28/2019 : 12:22:15 AM
I always enjoy emails about backdrops.

Here is a link to my website showing 3 backdrops on the layout I was building in 2009:

kyle creel Posted - 03/27/2019 : 8:16:13 PM
Don't feel so bad James, I've been reading and following the stuff here since 2012 and never did figure out how to post any pictures. But at 65 and no computer training or knowledge, I wasn't that upset over it. (I still use a flip phone and have never sent a text in my life and don't participate in social media other than here). I let one of the people on the On30 line post some for me. Now I just watch other peoples work and comment when appropriate. There are some wonderful model rr's and terrific people with outstanding talents on the forum. Kyle
Bill Gill Posted - 12/15/2018 : 8:31:08 PM
Here is a 12 minute YouTube video where an artist shows how he painted an impressionistic watercolor scene of distant evergreen trees on mist covered hills.
Although it isn'y specifically a how-to, the techniques shown create what could be an effective backdrop.
James Cubie Posted - 12/01/2018 : 08:33:42 AM
A new find -- I have found a source for printing photo backdrops that is excellent. He is cheaper than others and gets the work done quickly. He even found a problem with one of mine and fixed it at no cost. https://www.trainjunkies.com/I use photo backdrops -- usually from my own photos. He recomeneded printing on vinyl which has worked out very well for me -- does not tear etc. I use photoshop elements to create the panorama -- easy software to deal with.
N2626 Posted - 04/24/2016 : 10:10:25 PM
That ain't Cheatin', that's taken advantage of a good way to go!
darrylhuffman Posted - 04/24/2016 : 06:48:00 AM

I cheated for this backdrop and used photos from the internet cut out and spliced together.

Bill Gill Posted - 04/23/2016 : 10:28:07 AM
Thanks, like Mark said, that's good to know.
MarkF Posted - 04/23/2016 : 01:22:24 AM
Thanks for that tip Arnold. I am in the process of placing backdrops around my layout. Right now they are only temporarily taped up in place while I am determining their final placement, but I am not sure how to attach them. Now I know at least to not use spray adhesive!

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