Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Frosty's Cold Storage!

Surprisingly, despite considerable work pressure my layout progress has been more or less steady this year - for the first time in my life (Hope I hadn't jinxed it!).

To give you quick updates, we painted the cold storage building in the mean time, developed additional scenery for the 3D backdrop, completed the entrance of the layout with ground cover etc... and, built the most important thing of all - a couple of cut out bill boards! And guess who owns the clod storage now... yes, frosty it is. :)

So this is my wife's first piece of real estate in the Americas and a decent business venture that too! Ladies and Gentlemen, I present you Frosty's Cold Storage (With a crooked 'L'):

The letters are self adhesive plastic letter cutouts to use on cheap name plates and all - originally had a pathetic golden color. I painted them white, and then put them on the cardboard frame. The one on the rooftop still requires some more bars - I ran out of supply in the process, but managed to complete the basic structure.

Coming to the backscene, though the effect of the 3D back ground photo is awesome from street level, it definitely is strikingly awkward from other angles. Hence I covered both the buildings with a couple of trees in such a way that the effect actually is enhanced from the street level view, but the awkward effect is drastically reduced from other angles. Here are a few shots to demonstrate the cover-up. The first one is from an angle that's never been used before.

More to come... stay tuned. :)

Friday, April 4, 2014

3D Background Scene and Low Relief Background Buildings

It has always been in my mind - the background scene. The way I see it, background scenes and how it blends into the layout is one of the most important things in layout building as track laying, wiring, scratchbuilding and even the actual operations. The background scenes develop the 'feel' of the layout, and gives it the required depth. From my perspective, it is easier to create that vastness and touching the horizon feel in a large layout with meters of hills and hundreds of trees, but for an urban setting in a small layout, it is a challenging job to create that illusion.

This is when I thought of 3D backscenes - a concept that is used to bring more depth in certain decorative wall hangings and something that is surely used in movie sets - something I learned from my one time gig in a local B grade movie as a child actor nearly two decades ago! That is what I wanted to incorporate in this layout.

So I started looking for suitable background scene materials on the internet. After months of searching I finally found my material - but those are not photographs - those are reproduction of hand drawn posters of 1960's North Carolina. These became instant favorite - the hand drawn quality gives it the artistic touch that I always like to see in a layout. After all, a photograph makes it all too perfect for me to blend in to the make believe world of miniature anyway, especially for a person like me who builds everything from scratch and with cardboard and wood - I always like to stay on that thin line of 'fine scale modeler' vs. an artist - you have less compulsion, more freedom, and for me, it makes my job more interesting.

Anyway - enough for the prologue, for the 3D effect, I raised the building on the two sides raised by 7mm, and fitted light inside (night time scenes coming soon), and then blended it with the layout from three sides - two low relief, scratch built buildings from both the sides, the rolling up the asphalt road to the back scene -  The back scene is 7-8 mm above the baseboard and the road curves it's way up to merge with the road in the poster, giving it a smooth transition.

Here are some quick photos. I also included my favorite bad boy bikers figure kit from WS, featuring some great N scale bike models and rough characters - a very nice touch for a 1960's small American port town, I think. :)

The area still requires a lot of detailing (street lamps, dust bins, cats, dogs, birds, people, junk, grass, fence - you name it, it all goes in that tiny 15" X 9" area) and will be the hot spot of the layout - a detailing task that will take months if not years. However, I am hoping to post some night time photos soon where the background buildings will also have lights!