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  • Kumard. You do some very, very nice work. Your approach delivers great results.

    .... I'm currently testing crackle medium .....

    I saw on another forum where an individual modeled a dried up creek bed and he used this item. It looked OUTSTANDING.

    Ranger TDC31888 Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint 4 oz Jar, Clear Rock Candy

    Color: Clear Rock Candy

    • $7.99($2.00 / Fl Oz)

    • $15.99

    Take care........John



    • Bill_Gill
      Bill_Gill commented
      Editing a comment
      John, That sounds VERY interesting! Can you post a link to that dried up creek bed?

  • Great update Kumard. I like the way you really plan things out. Takes some extra time, but the results are excellent.
    And it helps to make sure everything will fit.

    I'm guilty of not really planning enough. Lessons to be learnt here.
    Regards Rob

    Despite the cost of living, it's still popular

    My current build.


    • Kumar,

      I like your level of planning and testing. For one thing, achieving realistic road surfaces is a real challenge and many of us will be watching to see how you do it.


      Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


      • CNE1899 >> Nice setup, explanation, and examples! Thanks for taking the time and letting us ride along. Like your workspace, I'm jealous.>> Thanks Scott. The workspace is a dream. Still more to come in the way of kitchen units at the opposite end from the shelves. That will be done in January.

        john_holt >> You do some very, very nice work. Your approach delivers great results. >> Thanks. I'm enjoying the process as well. Not always the case.

        Ranger TDC31888 Tim Holtz Distress Crackle Paint 4 oz Jar, Clear Rock Candy >> Added to my materials list. Will attempt to purchase soon.

        robert_goslin >>
        I like the way you really plan things out. >> Yep normally I have a hard time with planning but I have now felt the pain of failure and know that planning is crucial step in order to create a successful model. I'm also enjoying the process as well.

        Michael_Hohn >> or one thing, achieving realistic road surfaces is a real challenge and many of us will be watching to see how you do it. >> Road surface tests are about to start again. I got side-tracked by a bunch of other tests (crackle, wood staining). Will post on that as soon as I have some results worth sharing.

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        The kitchen units have started to arrive. They will go at the opposite end to the shelves. They are cheap (but very nice) units from Ikea. They will be installed in January.
        Last edited by kumard; 11-23-2021, 08:55 PM.


        • I decided to color code all the elements that make up the diorama. It’s much easier to see the layout of the elements and the spaces between them when each element has its own color. It took a short while to figure out how to do the coloring. I ordered a set of water color spray paints which make the process cheaper than using Vallejo spray paint, but these don’t have the color range of Vallejo. I used random colors for the moment with no particular color scheme in mind. Moving forward I may use particular set of colors that work together. I’m slowly creating swatches of the Vallejo paints so that I can lay out the colors next to each other to decide on a set that would work together nicely as a color code.

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          The layout so far. I still have to complete the platform and the side parking and rear driveway (see below). I can see from this image that the roadway feels a little too wide and therefore I intend to make it a bit smaller.

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          I used a selection of Vallejo spray paint to color the card pieces. Coloring has made observing the layout so much easier.

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          I decided to add the same treatment to the backdrop elements. I still have to do the sides and the horizon.

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          I’m slowly creating swatches of the Vallejo Air range paints. It makes selecting colors much easier. I can also pull swatches from the shelf and sit them next to each other to assist selecting a color scheme.

          The nice thing about planning is the fact that you can just take your time while you give certain areas a bit of a think through. I had the roadway and platform front area figured out. I also added a freight platform and creek (stream, gully?) alongside road. However I had not figured out what was going on behind the station building but now that I had color-coded those other elements I was able to give it some thought.

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          Turning the diorama around was easy enough so that I could see how much space needed working on.

          I decided to add a small driveway that would allow cars to access the right side of the station. The driveway surface level would be slightly below the platform surface as elsewhere. I like the fact that the platform is slightly raised as it then creates a nice self-contained area on which to sit the depot. I removed the old plastic base from the station building so that it could sit right on top of the platform. I may rebuild this building. I’m deciding whether to purchase another kit right now.
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          Once the drive way feature was incorporated I was able to create two color-coded areas to represent those elements.

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          Looking pretty good. The color coding has been really helpful to begin to realize the eventual model. I can work on each element (road, parking area, platform etc) on my desk and move them to the model when ready (as per my rules!)

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          Earlier this week after I had completed the initial color coding I was able to see that the roadway and creek was too large in proportion to other elements on the model. I cut them down a bit though I may have overshot and made them too narrow now! No matter as it is easy enough to rebuild them at this stage than later.

          With the vertical and horizontal spacing figured out as well as what elements were going where I decided to start on the backdrop in earnest. I colored coded the backdrop elements and started working on the horizon. In fact these next two weeks are going to be devoted to designing and making both the backdrop photo and the structure that will hold it in place. Once that is done I will start building the diorama.

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          I added a sample horizon to see how it would like as a planning tool. It looks fine and I will start to extend it left and right to the edges of the diorama backdrop.


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          Crackle test is done, see blog post on this. Weather-It is done – I found the product to be no better than the alcohol and ink method. Winsor & Newton Pigment markers – still have to purchase and test the missing shades of grey but so far they have been fantastic and I look forward to using them in my modeling.

          Asphalt road surfaces

          Yes I have begun. I am glad I waited a couple of weeks as it gave me time to think things through. The test is the first step to creating a roadway surface for the model. As I want to build, color and weather the roadway on my desktop and then move the final result to the diorama I wanted to split the test into two parts.
          1. A test bed into which I can fit different road surfaces to give me an idea of how things are looking. This will have a grassy side to replicate the grassy side of the diorama (and generally a road in country).
          2. A reusable road-surface jig into which I can pour the road surface mixture. I want to create lots of variations of road surface and this jig will allow me to create one after the other.
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          The test bed. I want to be able to slide in road surfaces that have been created in the jig. The sides will act as grassy borders to the road surface.

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          The road surface jig. I’ll be able to reuse this to create as many road surfaces as needed. The jig allow me to pour in a road mixture, let it dry, extract the result to then color and weather. Note my pajamas – it’s around 6am. I’ll post the step-by-step methods of the test when finished.

          That's all for now folks. More next week. Check my blog for frequent (often daily) updates.
          Last edited by kumard; 11-29-2021, 12:37 AM.


          • Kumar,

            You are developing reference materials that you can use for years.

            You might want to think about the purpose of the track that dead ends next to the station. If it's a team track you want trucks to be able to back up to boxcars sitting on it.


            Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced. James Baldwin


            • kumard
              kumard commented
              Editing a comment
              Yep that’s the idea - long term reference materials.

              Regarding the team track - yes I intend to have trucks back up close to the track.
              Last edited by kumard; 11-30-2021, 08:45 AM.

          • I like your idea for testing the roads.

            The sky is not my limit, it's my playground.


            • kumard
              kumard commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks George. More to come about that method.

          • Kumard,

            Man are you methodical! I am impressed. Organized as well. Thanks again for sharing.



            • kumard
              kumard commented
              Editing a comment
              Thanks Scott,

              I find I can think clearly when things are organized and tidy. I write a list down of all the things I'm working on before I start each morning and that keeps me on track.

          • So with the space planning out the way I turned back to the backdrop this week. I did some explorations with Photoshop to re-familiarize myself with some of the functions and filters. I'm still deciding which way to and I have several options:
            1. Grab images from Google (pay for them if necessary) and create a montage.
            2. Take my own pictures out in the countryside with northern California having to stand-in for the Indiana countryside.
            3. Use a some kind of Photoshop filter to convert the final image into a painting-like backdrop
            Here's what I grabbed from the internet:

            I searched for 'Indiana countryside' in Google and found these images. I played around with them in Photoshop to see if they would work for the diorama. I especially like the bottom image. I would have to work on the road and reposition it to meet the roadway on the diorama. It can be done but it may take a few attempts.

            As a web developer I have some Photoshop skills and know how to cut, crop, duplicate and add filters (plus a whole lot more). I did a quick treatment just to see if this direction was an option. I duplicated the tree, and created three more; I cut out the road and moved it around; I added a paint filter. I really like how this has turned out so far and may continue on this path. It takes hours to do this properly so it's best if you just do a quick test to see if you really want to invest the time.

            On the other hand Sonoma County (70 miles north of San Francisco) may have to stand in for Indiana countryside. Near the town of Healdsburg is some very attractive countryside with the added benefit of being fairly green compared to the dry landscape found in other parts of California. I can get up there in an hour and a bit, hop on my bike, and take all the pictures I need. I can also add the oil painting filter to blend in several scenes if necessary.

            Anyhow with that preliminary exploration of Photoshop I decided to get started on the backdrop structure. Things had to wait until the weekend as I needed to reorganize my drum room. I needed to clear the space - remove one of my drum kits - and bring up my power tools. The adjoining room to the train room is going to house the power tools. I'm waiting for furniture to arrive to place the tools upon.

            Drumming: one of the reasons it took me so long to get back to railroad modeling - it used up that year’s hobby budget. In order to keep good neighborly relations I had to have a sound proof drum booth built. Now I can practice in the middle of the night and no one can hear a thing! My neighbors are very happy. The area in front of the booth is going to house my power tools. A table is arriving this week for my mitre saw and drill.

            With access to my power tools I'm building the backdrop frame. These are the sides and I'll work on the rear this week. Once that is done and built I'll turn back to the imagery for the backdrop.

            Road Tests

            The road tests are going ok. My first attempt produced something to practice with. I'll be ready in a couple of days to produce another road surface. My jig was not sturdy enough for a repeat test so before I can do anything I need to make a better reusable one.

            I'll post the complete steps once I have figured it all out and produced something that I'm happy with but for the moment I'm essentially creating a flowing mix out of various ingredients and pouring it into the jig. It needs to be able to flow around and fill the space.

            After a couple of days the mix has settled and dried. I added little pulls to pull up the road base but unfortunately the jig itself warped and distorted - I'm going to build one of out wood this week.

            You can bend the whole surface to create cracks. When the surface settles back flat many of the cracks remain and look like authentic cracks found in asphalt. The cracks still need to be worked on by rubbing them, scraping the edges, and pulling the underlying card apart. I'm going to use a Swedish dish cloth as the base as I want to be able to pull the road surface and have it NOT settle back exactly as before, so preserving the crack profile better. I'll have more on that next week.

            Not perfect yet but definitely heading in the right direction. I'm going to experiment with different bases (not just a card base), darker colors (by adding more black to the mix), patches, crackle paint and other things to make it look more authentic. I'll post progress next week.


            During my time away from modeling I took up railroad photography. Most of the pictures are just to document the scene but every now and then I took one that I thought would look nice on the wall. Here are a couple of pics that arrived this week. The library is located here

            I have a library of 20,000 images of active, inactive and abandoned railroad track mostly around the Bay Area. Some pictures are nice enough to frame..

            Thanks all folks. More next week.
            Last edited by kumard; 4 weeks ago.


            • NEEDS MORE COWBELL !

              Home of the HOn3 North Coast Railroad, along the shores of Lake Ontario.


              • kumard
                kumard commented
                Editing a comment
                Guess what? I got a fever! And the only prescription is….

            • Kumard,

              Lots of hobbies! I like the "Indiana Countryside" picture. Your initial photoshop trial makes it fit your diorama.

              I'm a fan of Northern California myself, Humbolt county to be exact.

              Road work is coming along nicely as well.

              Look forward to more!



              • kumard
                kumard commented
                Editing a comment
                Thanks Scott,

                I’m working on the backdrop photo this week. I’m doing my cycling trip to Sonoma next weekend. After I have taken the pictures I need I’ll know which direction I’m going in.

            • This week I finished the diorama frame. I created sides by cutting up three pieces of hardboard bought from my local art store. The diorama is 20 X 10 inches so the sides needed to be two pieces of 10″ and one piece of 20″. All the pieces are around 7″ tall. I framed the left and right sides with 1/2 inch lengths of wood (is there a name for that wood?). The rear board is just stuck to the left and right frames and is not itself framed. I used glue throughout to build the framework. Fairly simple.

              The complicated part was deciding how to work on the diorama away from the backdrop and then fit the backdrop to the diorama once completed. I decided to create a separate base from hardwood, build the diorama on top of that and slide that base into the backdrop frame once completed. That way I can work on the back of the diorama and have easy comfortable access for my various tools such as the static grass applicator.

              The diorama base and the frame are two separate pieces. I will install the backdrop on the frame but work on the diorama separately on my work bench. Once completed I should be able to just slide the model into place. It also means I can fit the backdrop immediately and not worry about damaging it when modeling towards the back.

              Because I have stream running parallel to the road I need to be able to dig down beneath the level of the track. To do that I need to raise the level of the model and then dig out the stream. I decided to use extruded polystyrene to raise the level. I also purchased a foam cutter and used it to cut the foam to the size of the underlying hardboard. It will be glued to the hardboard and will be able to slide in and out of the diorama frame.

              I continued to return the various planning elements to the board to make sure things were still looking good. All good so far.


              I really like this image below. I like the strong colors, the country lane and the horizon of trees and farm. I decided to use this as the base for my backdrop. As mentioned before I already did a quick treatment to see if this was a direction I wanted to go. Like most things, the more time you spend on the task of creating a backdrop, the better it will be. However it is my least favorite task in modeling and I encounter enormous resistance to working on it. Nevertheless I did not want to rush it so I decided to spend this whole week working on it bit by bit and I eventually got to place I’m happy with.

              This image was downloaded from Google. I typed ‘Indiana countryside’ and this was one of the first images that appeared. I have since purchased a license to use this image so that I have a clean version clear of watermarks and legal right to use for various purposes. I’m going to use as many elements as possible – tree, road, sky, farms, but will have to heavily rework the image to stretch it left and right and adjust the road to meet my road on the diorama head on.

              Moving to my computer in the main house (with three monitors), I used Photoshop to do a trial run of finding and positioning elements. I figured out which Photoshop tools and filters I would need and got a rough layout to print and test on the model. I cut out images roughly, I added an oil paint filter, added a house and some other trees. On the next version I will go and adjust everything at pixel level which will sharpen things up. I will also choose better artwork.

              Even though I have a computer station set up in the train room my three work monitors in the house are set up nicely for graphic work. I was able to print out the scene into four separate pieces, stick them together, and tape the temporary backdrop to the model.

              I added back the planning elements to get an idea of how everything was looking. Pretty good I thought but changes would need to be made. I did not like the oil painting filter. I used it to hide imperfections and artifacts left over from bad cutting and pasting. I decided to try to use the original photo as much as possible and just do a better job of adding layers. The three pine trees are good but the wrong color. I decided to find new ones. The house at the back is nice but I decided to try to find a taller structure that would rise above the depot and could be seen from the front. I should be able to get to a final version on my next attempt.

              FINAL VERSION:

              Here is the final version. It would take too long to walk through the various steps that got me to this point but in short I used cloning, blurring, smudging, stretching, copy and paste and resizing. I also worked at pixel level to tighten up edges and clean areas. The road took a while. It now lines up with the diorama road. I am going to match the color of the diorama road with the color of the road on the backdrop. That means using sandy gravel instead of asphalt. I will use asphalt for the depot parking area instead.

              A closeup of the area behind the depot. I added a mill to rise above the depot building. I also found other center trees that matched the overall color scheme.

              I sent the backdrop file to the printers ( and will receive it in a couple of weeks. I will use my temporary printed version while building the diorama.

              Thanks all.
              Last edited by kumard; 4 weeks ago.


              • Comment

                • Kumard,

                  Very nice Photoshop work! Pretty damn good for being your least favorite. I'm glad you stuck with the Indiana background, even though there is some beautiful scenery in Northern California.



                  • kumard
                    kumard commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Thanks Scott.

                    I still may continue working on the backdrop. I'll see how the printed version looks but I'm thinking of moving the mill further to the left so that the view of the diorama from the front is bit more balanced. We will see. Now that I have practiced with Photoshop I should be able to create another version pretty quickly.

                • John Holt , That Distress Crackle paint you showed a couple weeks ago sounds VERY interesting! Can you post a link to that dried up creek bed you mentioned?