The real challenge for my modelling skills has been the painting of back drops on my Top Deck layout to look something like the high chalk downs overlooking the Folkestone area. Even with the help of reference photographs, it was always going to be an ‘interpretation’. I am no artist and was hopeless at art in school, so it was either keep the back drop white in colour or take a deep breath and have a go! The key was matching the summer colours of the Woodland Scenics to the artists acrylic paints currently available from my local art supplies shop and finding the right paint brushes for stippling etc. The pictures shown here were taken as work proceeded so I could examine my efforts away from the layout and identify problems with my work. I can always find plenty of those, but have to temper expectation with skill level!
This layout is the third deck of a three-deck layout, positioned 70 inches from the floor. It’s a shelf layout design, so to enable me to reach all areas of it, is relatively narrow at 22 inches wide. The main line tracks leading into Martello Tunnel at this point are only 3 inches from the back drop. How to achieve a good blend between three-dimensional scenery and the back drop with its high hills was also something that occupied much thinking time!
Thankfully, the real location has a lot of scrubby trees and gorse on the hills, so I have a great deal more painting to do on the back scene which will help with perspective. Also to be added is the distant outline of various buildings, mostly houses, on the hillside and partly concealed by trees. That is why the back drop looks relatively bare at the moment. My aim at this stage was to assess the blend between scenery and back drop and already these pictures show the need for darker shadows under the painted trees to create more contrast.
The blue Class 47 is a new addition to the fleet…a ViTrains model simply repainted and weathered to run as part of my early to mid 1980s fleet. The ballast colour is a bit uniform, but when the shot was taken, it had just been placed and glued!
My faithful white 4-Cig No. 1742 emerges from the tunnel portal running in the Up direction. Ideally, the far corner of the back drop boards should be coved. However, the number of trees to be placed on the hill over the tunnel will disguise that. The scenery materials, glues etc sitting in the back ground are occupying the space to be used for the three train roads and three berthing sidings, Whilst they run back beyond the tunnel portal, which is contrary to the full size location where they end just beyond and curving away from the portal, I could not afford to loose the train road length, hence the compromise! The main line curves away round the back of the room after entering the tunnel; space being needed for the 48 inch radius curve. I shall dress the resulting hillside above the train roads at this point with shrubs and some chalk exposed between the greenery to finish it.
There is a bit of white chalk cliff showing on the back drop in this view and the side section will have more tress painted in together with an outline of the Martello tower on the skyline. There will be more buildings painted in too, mostly the upper storeys and roof lines. I am yet to find the right colours…
When the back drop painting, track ballasting and scenery work along the rear area of the layout is complete, I will commence work on laying track on the bare boards to the front of the scene. In the meantime, there has been changes to the way I operate the Top Deck layout…the incumbent Lenz equipment is being changed for radio control which will make operation of the Top Deck much easier! More on that soon!