Thompson River Route~ Blog 3
So far in this series I have gone over my planning process followed by the benchwork construction, mountain forming, and lastly the shed creation and plaster work. This third blog will go over the shed and rock painting process, as well as some trackside details that I have been adding. As much as I would have liked to have the plaster work complete before this blog, it will take some time yet to finish.
With the rock work I have completed I will begin the painting process. The paint I like to use is bottled acrylic. These are often cheap, thin, and can go a long way. The thin consistency is important as it helps the paint flow in and around the rocks. The colours I use are burnt umber, raw sienna, red, and yellow. Black and white are also staples of my painting process. I use a large and cheap paint brush for applying paint to my rock work. I say cheap because the brush will have to endure a grueling treatment against the rocks which could leave you less than impressed if using a nice brush. The last thing I like to have on hand is a spray bottle full of water, this will be used to thin the paint and let it run down the rock face. This spray bottle technique is great for eliminating brush strokes and randomizing the colour applied to the rocks, creating a realistic look.
To paint the rock work I like to keep away from any sort of common pattern. I start with the variation of earth colours applied in small areas at a time, working quickly so I can spray the small area with the water bottle and get it to run into the rock. Repeating this process of small paint applications followed by the spray bottle will eventually leave the rock face with a basic colouring. From here, the darker colours like black can be applied in small points and then quickly sprayed heavily with water to get the black to run down and into the cracks. Letting the darker colours run through cracks in the rock will bring out those details and give the rock depth. Now depending on the region your rocks are supposed to be in, the overall tones will be different. The rock along my route is mostly grey with some very slight reddish tones throughout. At this moment in painting the rocks, they are earth toned with black definition. I now want to work some grey into them to get the overall colour closer to that of the real rocks. To do this I start with white and bring in different amounts of black to get constantly different shades of grey, applied to the front faces of the rock and sprayed with water. Once the overall shade is how you would like it, a few last runs of black down the cracks will bring out the rocks as best they can. The rocks are now very similar to those in nature however they could use some highlights to make them appear more dramatic and represent light hitting certain parts of the rock. To apply the highlights, put some white on your brush and then wipe most of it off onto a paper towel. Quickly take the brush with minimal white left and send the brush across the front of the rocks. What little white left on the brush will lightly apply to edges, points, and sometimes even the larger faces that should stand out. This method of “dry brushing” ensures that the white does not come out too strong and starts to look like raw plaster.
With the rocks painted, it is time to paint the snow sheds. The concrete of the sheds is very close to one single shade of grey so I simply created that shade and applied it evenly to the sheds. The only variation in colour I found was some light weathering from water washing minerals down the sides of the sheds. To represent this, I thinned down shades of brown and, using a thin brush, put streaks straight down the wall wherever I saw it in my photo of the shed.
With painting complete the project is starting to take on a far more realistic look. It is nice to have half of the rock work completed, however, I like to take a break every once and a while to apply some smaller details. The following points are some of the details that I have added to my project.
- Flange Lubricator
This is a device located on the outside rail just before a tight corner to reduce wear on the flanges around the corner. They often colour a patch of the track black from grease, this is an interesting detail that stands out and isn’t often modeled.
- Dragging Parts Detector
This detail is more common and is certainly interesting to see. They consist of a series of plates between the rails and outside the rails which will sense when they are hit by equipment hanging too low and send an automated warning to the crew. They are often placed before points in the track that those dragging parts could do damage, such as grade crossings and turnouts.
- Block Signals
Signaling can add a great element of realism to a layout, especially if it can actaully tell where your trains are. Regardless if you want to set up detection and use the technology available to properly operate the signals, having signals placed along your layout will look great. There are many different specifications for the placement of signals but the basic principle is the same, when a train is sitting in a block, the signals within that block are red, the previous block is yellow, and the one before is green. This keeps trains a safe distance from each other and warns them when one is ahead.
- Maintenance Sheds
These little structures create some variation in the mountain scenery. Often being the only structures along the tracks they were usually used to store tools, handcars, and speeders.
- Switch Stand
Using scale switch stands can also improve the look of turnouts and goes well with the fine detail of the maintenance sheds. With an under table turnout motor used, the non functioning switch stand can be used, avoiding bulky above table turnout motors or functional stands.
That concludes my third blog of this project, next time I will explain ballasting, ground cover, and construction of a fictional small town at the bottom of the hill. ~~ Tyler Fedoroshyn