Further Developments & Experiments…………………….

Since my last update Bleddfa Road has gained a scenic fiddle yard. I have also been dabbling with acrylics as I prepare to paint my own backscene

Starting with the scenic fiddleyard I used the bases of the old cassettes for the new track bed. The track being built in situ on Templot templates, with 1.5mm ply sleepers and Slater’s bullhead rail held in C&L two bolt plastic chairs. Waterproof PVA was used to to secure the templates and sleepers to the track bed, as things can get a little damp when ballasting. I had a good supply of rail and chairs in stock, so the job flowed nicely and soon the new track was ready to be wired and tested. I get a lot of satisfaction from track building, and even more so in 7mm scale. This is lost on one of my friends who cannot understand why I don’t use a well known ready to lay track system. Sadly he thinks I’m just trying to be clever, whereas I simply want something a little better and more realistic.

Once the track had been thoroughly tested I turned my attention to the scenic foundations and loading bank. Kingspan insulation was used for the former, and 3mm ‘Palight’ for the latter, with the rock cutting being carved from DAS modelling clay.

Thanks to this new viewing angle the crossing keepers cottage now needs a back door and some extra windows. Modifications that I can easily carry out seeing as I resisted the urge to develop the cottage earlier. This is why the other buildings on the layout are still just basic shells, and will remain that way until I am absolutely sure that everything will sit together. After creating the basic scenic foundation the Kingspan was covered in plaster bandage to seal, and protect it from any stray solvents.

A little work has also been carried out on the road bridge, I think the mix of building materials drew me to this particular structure. It is also different which is another big plus point as far as I am concerned. Like the prototype, the model is also being constructed from a mix of materials, all being overlaid onto a shell of 3mm ‘Palight’ foamboard.

This is how the fiddleyard looked before further experimentation, there is a very gentle reverse curve on the main line. Unfortunately the camera makes it appear kinked, which it certainly isn’t. The reason for laying the track in that manner was to create a little extra clearance between it and the siding. It also helps as regards the alignment of the road bridge, as well as increasing the length of the track by an extra inch. Now that might not sound much but it means that an extra wagon can now fit into the fiddleyard. Looking at the loading dock I know it is early days, but I am not sure that it is working for me, so I’m experimenting with the idea of a lime kiln again. The sketch below, which is based on a plan that can be found in Gordon Gravetts second book on modelling in 7mm scale really appeals to me.

I really like the look of this scene so I made a rough card mock up to see if the idea of a kiln would work. Scaling up a building from a sketch isn’t exactly easy, and several adjustments will need to be made until I get the proportions of my mock up right. In the meantime a little research won’t go amiss, as I have several questions about the whole process of manufacturing quick lime.

Anyway and moving on, I have also been experimenting with some backscene painting techniques. I started off by following Martin Goodall’s advice and took a few more photos of the scenes that appeal to me.

Both of the above images have been given a dreamy muted look in hope of creating the illusion of distance. I don’t want the backscene to have too much detail, or the eye will be drawn to it, rather than the layout itself. Though my experimental pieces bear no resemblance to these scenes, I am hoping to produce something similar once I have mastered a few techniques. To help me in my quest I have been watching repeats of ‘The Joy Of Painting’ on BBC 4, and have picked up some very useful tips from its presenter, the late Bob Ross. After watching a certain episode I found myself reaching for paint and brushes. Unfortunately I didn’t have the colours recommended by Bob or Martin. I didn’t have a piece of hardboard or canvass to paint on either. Nevertheless I made do with a piece of card and what paints I could muster and came up with these small scenes.

If you refer back to the earlier photos you will notice that they feature trees and hedges. The question was could I paint them, or would it be better to model them in 2D? You might ask why not leave them out and make things easier for myself, well the simple answer is that they will help to avoid any shadows cast by the lamp hut, and the tree featured in the above photo does just that despite its shortcomings. Obviously I need to improve my tree painting, but I am very happy with the hedge on the left. Its basic shape being blocked out first and then highlighted. I was also keen to see how my homemade grass matting would blend into a painted background, which wasn’t easy given the colours available to me. The colour of the sky and horizon will also improve now that I have the correct acrylic paints to hand.

This is my second attempt, trees once again capture the shadows cast by the station building. Highlighting the tree trunk Bob Ross style improved things no end, but the foliage still needs work. Another thing that I needed to consider was the position of the horizon. Referring to Martin’s articles he reckons that it should be two to three inches (approx 5-8 cm) higher than any buildings. But of course the height of the backscene has to be taken into consideration as well. Well I think that little lot brings everything up to date for now, thanks for reading. Geoff

5 thoughts on “Further Developments & Experiments…………………….

  1. If I could make a suggestion Geoff, they need more foliage to the front – when you look at a summer tree you don’t tend to see much of the trunk and branches as the leaves will grow all round them. Good first attempt otherwise!


    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your comments Keith, I am always open to suggestion:-) Sorry for the late response but we have been away for a few days.

      Those scenes were very much experimental as I tried a few techniques and ideas. You see I am wary of the backscene overpowering the layout, too much detail in the way of foliage could make it stand out, too little and things will look flat, so it is going to be a very fine balancing act. I wanted to see what worked best, should the trees be simply blocked out and highlighted as per Martin Goodall’s ideas, or should I attempt a little more detail Bob Ross style? As for the tree trunks I was experimenting to see if highlighting them would work or not, hence the absence of foliage in some areas. Another consideration is the season that I am modelling, all my layouts are set towards the end of summer, that lovely time of year just before autumn. By then the long grasses are becoming a bleached green/yellow colour and leaves are already beginning to fall. I’m experimenting with different moods of sky now, more hazy blue grey than the usual sky blue with white fluffy clouds so often seen on layouts, well Bleddfa Road is in Wales after all 🙂



      1. “…more hazy blue grey than the usual sky blue with white fluffy clouds so often seen on layouts, well Bleddfa Road is in Wales after all ”

        Not a single fluffy white cloud in our lovely late summer azure blue Welsh sky at the moment Geoff! This is my favourite time of year too, just looking out of the window at some nice mature trees and already the leaves are turning.

        Looking forward to your future artistic endeavours (although to be fair everything about your layouts is artistic! 🙂 )


        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Khris, nice of you to say so:-) I don’t suppose they are too bad for a first attempt but I feel there is room for improvement, especially now that I have some decent paints to hand.


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