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Friday, January 7, 2011

Your First Railroad Part 7.

With structures on the layout, it is time to complete the railroad with Scenery.  Scenery is the final peice that makes a train layout whole.  Although a layout is never "finished", scenery completes the railroad look.  Scenery, however, is a large and complicated chunck of building a railroad.  But like a math problem, it is best to break the process into smaller sections.  Scenery can be divided many ways, but the method that works for me goes as follows;

Although this should be done in the begining, reviewing where everything scenicly should be placed with help to avoid problems.  Things such as clearence, and poportion will mke the overall layout more real.  You don't often see a tree over 100ft high and brushes the sides of railcars, instead make tres that are far from the track and aren't more than about 50ft in height scale wise.

Basic Scenery;
This is the begining of the real work.  Basic scenery doesn't include trees and bushes but rather just the grass.  to start, apply paint on the scenic shell. The color of the paint varies from place to place.  In the midwest mix of gravel and clay is best, colors there would be light brown to dark gray/brown.  In the south west various shades of light brown and dark brown with red would replicate the sandstone realisticaly.
After the paint has been applied and is still wet, add the first layer of ground foam. my favorite for the mid west in summer is a medium green color with hints of brown and light green.  Woodland scenics is a good source for ground foam.  As an added bonus, Woodland scenics sells their foam in shaker cans. 
Next, seal off the first layer with dilluted wood glue, elmer makes good wood glue that can be mixed with water and still maintains a strong bond even at a 4:1 ratio of water and glue.  To apply the glue, you could use a sprayer, but be sure to cover the tracks with tape as the glue will impede preformance of the rails if the stuff gets on.  This happened to my second layout and therefore had a short life because of the glue.  My favorite method of appling glue to a layout is using a contact solution bottle.  Chances are you or someone you know has contacts, so ask them if you could use an empty contact solution bottle with a removable cap.  Using a contact solutiong bottle gives the user more control than a sprayer, so that no glue gets on the rails.  after the glue dries, add a second layer composed of mosly dirt and weed, like ground foam to places where the hillsides that may not support lush grass.  Then repeat glueing in those areas.

Trees and Bushes;
Trees cover mistakes and out of place objects.  Trees also frame scenes and make the overall layout realistic.
So how does one aquire model trees for a layout.  the most expensive way is to buy prebuilt trees.  these are realistic but and individual tree can cost up to around $5.00.  These are not recomended in large quantities because of the price, however, a micro layout or having these trees in close up areas of the layout will sufice to hold up realism.
The mid price method is to buy tree kits. these kits sell between $10 and $30 dolllars and make a similar amount of trees as what the price is.  these trees are decently realistic when viewed at around 1-2ft back.  You can make the trees more realistic by painting the trunks various colors of gray and brown.  A combination of  kit-type trees and pre built trees, using the kit trees in the back and the prebuilt trees in the front make a realistic looking forest.
The cheapest method, and my favorite is to make your own trees. Finding plants in your yard that have many different branches that are small are good for model railroad use.  The trees are in most cases even prepainted. All one has to do is add ground foam to represent leaves.  First spray the tree with cheap hair spray with a mid-level stength hold, then sprinkle on the ground foam.  After the tree dries, add it to the layout.
When adding trees to a layout, make sure that the trees are out side the right of way.  The right of way is the section of land a railroad owns. Railways clear out everything excpt grass on the right of way, but in some cases where the line isn't used as much as a mainline, the right of way is smaller and the trees grow closer.
Reasearch the area you model to get info on right of ways that you would model.
Bushes cover up small mistakes ad make a forest apper full of plant life.  Make sure to use foam safe caulk or glue when adding bushes to a train layout as the foam will melt with any other kind.

Details make the difference when it comes to realism.  Adding figures, animals, trash, fences, power lines, culverts, and trails will complete the scene about as best as anyone can.  Animals in north america that would be seen along side the tracks,would be deer, moose, bear, racoon, rabbits, birds such as vultures and eagles, horses, and cattle.  The more of these that one has on a layout, the more realistic.  However, do not over populate the area with too many animals, or it will look like a zoo!
Unlike animals that remain esentially the same for thousands of years, people accuire a different look about every five to ten years.  So pick an era and stick to it.  Modern people of 21st century don't wear suits and neither  did people of the 80s.  1800s people were victorian and 60s people had hardly anything on.

This concludes this series of posts, comments are welcome so that some areas can be expanded to make the series more helpful.  But anyway, enjoy and happy modeling!!

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