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Author Previous Topic: Turnout/Track Compatibility Topic Next Topic: Scenery
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Premium Member

Posted - 09/19/2006 :  10:03:03 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
All I can add is this is another great backdrop.
The man is an artist and I really think this is as good as it gets when looking at backdrops.

Can't wait to see it completed but I am not sure how it could get any better than it already is.

John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13297 Go to Top of Page

Darryl L Huffman
Engine Wiper

Posted - 09/20/2006 :  09:32:37 AM  Show Profile  Visit Darryl L Huffman's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I have been painting backdrops for years. I am just a painter.

It is really great to see the work of someone like your Painter Friend Victor who is a true artist.

The scene with the sun hidden is unbelievable.

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Posted - 11/21/2006 :  12:31:17 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
After reading this whole thread and seeing many examples of backdrops, one paragraph that Bags posted from John Dolkos sticks in my mind.

For a very simple backdrop treatment, paint it sky blue or even a neutral gray or beige. Let it recede into the background and do nothing to call attention to itself. If it is neat, clean, and smooth viewers -including you- will mentally screen it out.
This is the easiest type of backdrop to do and the point is with backdrops: Doing too good a job with a painted backdrop calls attention to it and away from the railroad.

Any thoughts on his comments? Does a backdrop really take attention away from the railroad or does it enhance it?

Naturally, I'm asking because I'll eventually need to come up with something for my diorama/layout.

In memory of Mike Chambers

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Posted - 11/21/2006 :  12:47:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I would agree with the statement from my own experience . I think colour , paint schemes , etc. are personal in that whatever you like is best . I like to paint the backdrop a medium blue and then fog in flat white , grey , and /or taupe , to create a misty scene . I think it sets a mood in my industrial settings ...steel mills . An oceanside scene would be similar in that the overall colour is somewhat misty or fogged . Again , this sets the tone of the scene and makes the viewer concentrate on the foreground .


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Darryl L Huffman
Engine Wiper

Posted - 11/21/2006 :  1:57:27 PM  Show Profile  Visit Darryl L Huffman's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Some people think of a backdrop as a way to hide the wallpaper or studs. But for me the backdrop is a very important part of the hobby.

In my backdrop clinics, I always emphasize the importance of using the backdrop to create depth in the layout.

If you are going to spend thousands of hours on your layout why not spend 20 creating a backdrop you will enjoy for the other thousands of hours.

Each person must decide for himself. And there is a simply way to do it.

Think about your 5 favorite layouts that you have visited. If those five layouts had nice backdrops then you will want to have one also.

If those five layouts had simple sky blue layouts then you will be content with a simply blue sky.

I have seen simple sky blue layouts that were great. But most of them were very low layouts. For the almost eye level layouts I have seen a good backdrop adds a lot to them.

But I am very biased as I enjoy painting backdrops. But I painted my first one in 1970 and have painted quite a few since then. And for dioramas I really enjoy creating a special small backdrop for them.

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 11/21/2006 :  2:50:05 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote

Seems to me its all about personal preference. You already know my preference.

No matter what level of backdrop you decide to do, its important to create that horizon line to help create depth.

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Posted - 11/21/2006 :  7:04:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Tim, for your purpose the decision you made was easy. Not only was it something you wanted, but it also makes a big impact when first viewed.

I can imagine first walking into your layout room, have my attention grabbed by the backdrop, but as I move closer it would focus more on the layout itself.

In my case, it's going to be a little different. I just have a rectangular box and I don't want the backdrop to over power it. Tim, how would you create the horizon line?

Darryl, if you would take a moment and look at the Bevier and Southern thread to see what I'm doing and then maybe make a suggestion.

In memory of Mike Chambers

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Engine Wiper

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  12:57:21 PM  Show Profile  Visit frankeva's Homepage  Reply with Quote

I think it was John Allen who said that clouds were pretty useless, but I've always liked them. I don't paint them by hand, though. In the photo above, I used cloud templates. You will also notice a "flat" glued to the backdrop. I cut this out from a 3 foot long photographic backdrop (I didn't like their sky because it didn't match from panel to panel). To hide the white edges, I ran a black Sharpie along the edge, from the back. Here's another example:

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  5:52:36 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote

I am sorry, I did not see your question unitl today.

When I am talking about the horizon line it has more to do with placement than exactly what to paint at the horizon.

Victor and I go over and over this constantly, he usually wins out. Its establishing a line around the room or in your case in the rectangular box. From my point of view I am working to create vast depths and large vistas. Typically I am looking for a higher horizon line where I can have paint and scenery blend together (hopefully) seamlessly to create that depth. If the horizon line is lower its more for highly detail painting. An example is what I am doing in the town of Rock Springs. You don't know where the horizon is becasue its behind mountains. I am placing buildings that have been cut at an angle directly on the backdrop. There will be a group of buildings like a street scene, then a road that goes off into the backdrop ever so often. At this point Victor will come along and paint the back part of the building on the backdrop with a forced perspective. I know it works as I have done it with pencil sketches. Plus Victor told me so too. The idea is to draw the viewer to look at the details, but where there is a road it will have an apperance of depth and that the road really goes somewhere.
For what you are doing, my guess is the horizon line would be lower in the sky, with maybe some hills to disguise exactly where the horizon line really is. With your detail modeling, you will want to showcase your structures and not draw a lot of attention the backdrop. You might even consider doing somethign similar to what I am trying to pull off, I could see that working too.

One other little tidbit of information that we have learned about tieing the scenery to the backdrop. That is to create a curve upward in the scenery right next to the backdrop. You can keep it uniform horizontally if you wish, but I find its better to vary the height of the curve as it meets the backdrop. The larger the better, but even a small one helps alot. If you look close, you will see the curve where my backdrop meets the layout and some of the curve is just paint and some is sceniced. I started doing this a couple years ago and I really like what it does.

Now what to paint at the horizon, well this is another subject all together. It all depends on where your railroad is in the world. The atmosphere is totally different in the desert than in the northwest, where there is plenty of moisture. It also depends on the time of day you are modeling. Dawn, Noon, dusk, twilight, tea time, etc. smile.
See what Victor has done to me.

WOW this is long winded. Hope it makes some sense.

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  5:56:51 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
OOOOPs , I forgot one more crucial ingredient. Where is the viewer going to see the backdrop from. Another words, where do you see there eye level being. Gosh I can't beleive I forgot that.

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  7:44:20 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I thougth that since we were on this topic I would post a few pictures to illustrate my thougths from the above posting.

When you look at this photo you see the road curve out into the wild blue yonder, but you also see the road come out onto the layout. This example will show a couple points I was making earlier, I hope. The first photo is shot 1' above eye level.

The second photo is at eye level

Third is at track level.

What did you see happen by the level that the backdrop was viewed? Look at the end for what I see.

This photo is shot at an angle to illustrate how the layout curves up to the backdrop. Notice there is no scenery at all in this picture. I had Victor paint directly on curved sculptamold I put down earlier. It helps create an illusion that the road comes right off the backdrop and into the layout. Well I think it does. In this case the curved sculptamold had to be put in more at an angle than a curve, otherwise the road would look funny.

In the first and third photo you can see where the road meets the backdrop prettly clearly, but less in the one that is one foot above. I felt that their will be people viewing at more at eye level than bending down and looking across the tracks. (track level) which is the worse of the three IMO. However there are people that would be taller so more importance was put on the that looking a bit better than track level. I feel the 2nd photo is the best, its at my eye level and the illusion is carried out the best in that shot.
What are your thoughts?

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  7:52:37 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
These photos will show some old scenery I did years ago and did not curve the layout to the backdrop.

The first is at Track Level and you can tell where the layout begins and ends to the backdrop.

The second photo is at eye level and this is even worse. If I would of curved the scenery up to the backdrop the illusion would of been created. Especially if I would re-do the scenery in this section.

For those that are interested this shot is 14" away from the backdrop.

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  8:02:28 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
Since I am on a roll and people have a choice not to read my rantings. Here are a few more.

This a decent example about a horizon line. The distance for scenery to the track is about 1". that is not much for scenery. However with a higher horizon line It allowed us to capture a greater depth of scene. There is not much you can do with one inch of scenery.
Both photos are lower than eye level by about 12".

This shot shows that we used 6" of vertical surface. It also shows that there is not much detail as you get closer to the horizon.

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Jerry M

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  8:03:05 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wow! that backdrop with the sun behind the clouds is just awsome...all you guys are doing some great work!! Now, I have to go out and patch the hole I just kicked in my meager attempt....just kidding..Great inspiration guys..Jerry

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Tim Kerkhoff

Posted - 12/14/2006 :  8:13:44 PM  Show Profile  Send Tim Kerkhoff a Yahoo! Message  Reply with Quote
I wanted to show these photo's as a want to do project.

The first photo shows the ground rising up to the backdrop, in this case about 3". The rock is 3D and made of plaster. But just to the left you will see snow fences just sitting there with no driection at all to the world. What I want to do is line them up at an angle to the backdrop to the left of the rock outcropping and have them touch the backdrop. Then take colored marker pencils and extend them into the backdrop with a forced perspective look. Making them smaller as I go.
Hope it works.

This is just a throw in photo, the backdrop extends below the main trackwork, as there is a track in the back that is somewhat visible. In this scene it was impossible to make a curve to the backdrop as the track is so close to it. So instead, paint something eye catching so people don't look down.

Country: USA | Posts: 5879 Go to Top of Page
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