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!

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