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Author Topic: Ashburton and Totnes  (Read 5616 times)

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Offline JohnBS

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #60 on: July 30, 2018, 08:22:14 PM »
Hi folks,
Let's try another short video, this time of Totnes. Link:
https://youtu.be/Oq4W6BNIJ74
Hope that this works.
Best wishes,
John
For more information see my blog: http://ashburton-and-totnes.blogspot.co.uk

Offline Train Waiting

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #61 on: July 31, 2018, 08:48:51 AM »
Many thanks for these two short films, John.

I enjoyed both very much indeed.

Thanks again and best wishes.

John
'Why does the Disney Castle work so well?  Because it borrows from reality without ever slipping into it.'

(Acknowledgement: John Goodall Esq, Architectural Editor, 'Country Life'.)

The Table-Top Railway is an attempt to create, in British 'N' gauge,  a 'semi-scenic' railway in the old-fashioned style, reminiscent of the layouts of the 1920s to the 1950s.

For the made-up background to the railway and list of characters, please see here: https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=38281.msg607991#msg607991

Offline MinZaPint

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #62 on: August 01, 2018, 11:27:40 AM »
Very enjoyable video, for me Totnes is a Must see layout, please keep us updated on any future appearances. I unfortunately I missed Corsham as our Niece was getting married! I was told in no uncertain terms that was more important  :(
Cogito Sumere potum alterum

Offline Newportnobby

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #63 on: August 01, 2018, 04:11:20 PM »
I unfortunately I missed Corsham as our Niece was getting married! I was told in no uncertain terms that was more important  :(

Now that really is a rock and a hard place, David

Offline Train Waiting

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #64 on: October 15, 2018, 04:38:55 PM »
Congratulations, John, on a fabulous article on painted backscenes in Model Railway Journal No. 266.  The photographs accompanying the article are excellent.  The one on page 270 is simply amazing.

Thank you very much.

With best wishes.

John
'Why does the Disney Castle work so well?  Because it borrows from reality without ever slipping into it.'

(Acknowledgement: John Goodall Esq, Architectural Editor, 'Country Life'.)

The Table-Top Railway is an attempt to create, in British 'N' gauge,  a 'semi-scenic' railway in the old-fashioned style, reminiscent of the layouts of the 1920s to the 1950s.

For the made-up background to the railway and list of characters, please see here: https://www.ngaugeforum.co.uk/SMFN/index.php?topic=38281.msg607991#msg607991

Offline JohnBS

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #65 on: November 24, 2018, 12:08:46 PM »
BACKSCENES FOR ASHBURTON AND TOTNES


Above - general view of Totnes
INTRODUCTION
I have had a couple of requests to post something on the backscenes for Ashburton and Totnes. This post is based on an article written for the Model Railway Journal, edition 266.
Both these layouts are to 2mm scale but with N-gauge track.  As such, I describe some of the methods that I have used but it is not intended to be prescriptive and the same techniques will apply to all the smaller scales.
Perhaps the most valuable characteristic of 2mm scale (N-gauge) is its ability to set the railway in a scenic context. One only has to think of the seminal layouts of recent decades – Gransmoor, Chiltern Green, Chee Tor and Copenhagen Fields - to demonstrate the validity of this. However, even this scale does not avoid the ever-present limitation of available space. A carefully designed and executed painted backscene can help mitigate this limitation.
DESIGN
Design criteria
Before embarking on creating a backscene, some questions must be considered:
   What is the display height of the layout?
   What level(s) are the running lines?
   What is the design viewing eye-level? (Normally in the range of 1.4 - 1.6m)
   How is the layout to be lighted?
   What direction and angle, intense or diffuse?
   From where is it intended to operate the layout? From behind the backscene, from in front (suitable for small layouts), from the ends, or by CCTV.
It is essential to determine these factors before setting-out the backscenes. The absolutely key factor to be aware of is that the backscene horizon is, logically enough, a horizontal line at the design viewing eye-level. At no point should the sky be visible below this line, though locally, hills, trees and buildings can project above it. Another factor, affecting the overall height of the backscene, is the operating position – is it necessary for the operator to see over the top of the backscene?
The backscene
My Ashburton and Totnes backscenes are made in two separate layers – a scenic profile fixed to the baseboards and a sky board, separated by a few millimetres from the scenic profile. The reasons for this separation are:
The two layers increase the apparent visual depth without adding significantly to the physical dimensions
The sky boards, which generally benefit from the softness derived from the use of larger brushes, or spray-painting, are physically separate (or separable) from the more intricately-painted scenic profiles
The scenic profiles form part of the protection of the layout during transport
The sky boards can be transported and protected separately, if wanted
In my case, I have a layout height (track level) of approximately 1.2m (4ft), a design viewing eye-level of 1.4m (4ft 8in) and operation from behind the back-scene. The top of the backscene is 270mm (11in) above the track level, giving an overall height of about 1.5m (5ft).


Above - reference material and work in progress
MATERIALS
Boards
Sky boards – 3mm MDF (usually obtainable in 1220 x 610mm or 2440x1220mm sheets from builders' merchants or DIY stores)
Scenic profiles – 2mm or 3mm MDF, as above
Paints
Primer/undercoat – matt emulsion – white for sky boards, mid dull green for scenic profiles
Finishing paints – for sky matt emulsion match-pots
Finishing paints – for scenic boards artist’s (not student’s) acrylic paints (Daler Rowney or Winsor & Newton)
Colours
A large range of colours is not necessary, my basic range includes:
   Titanium white (you will need lots - get a larger size than other colours)
   Yellow ochre
   Sap green
   Hookers green
   Cerulean blue
   Ultramarine blue
   Violet
   Burnt sienna
Try to avoid using black – much too stark and dead – you can get as near as you need to by mixing Hookers green, ultramarine and burnt sienna.


Above - the tools of the trade
Brushes
For priming/undercoating, a good-quality decorating paint brush, (1in or 2in depending on the areas to be covered)
For blocking-in colours, one or two flat artist’s brushes (nylon or synthetic are fine)
For intermediate work, a good quality round brush No 3 (sable or synthetic sable)
For fine detailing, a good quality No 1 or No 0 brush (sable or synthetic sable).
Accessories
A palette - piece of hardboard (or an off-cut of the MDF), about 200x300mm
A small palette knife for mixing and for cleaning the palette
Cling-film to cover the palette
Retarding gel; mixed with the colours, this prolongs the usability of the paint on the palette.


More to come.

John
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 05:10:06 PM by JohnBS »
For more information see my blog: http://ashburton-and-totnes.blogspot.co.uk

Offline JohnBS

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #66 on: November 26, 2018, 07:57:00 PM »
BACKSCENES FOR ASHBURTON AND TOTNES (continued)

CONSTRUCTION


Above is a typical section through my recent layout - Totnes, showing the construction.
Generally
I prefer to cut the final shape of thin MDF with a Stanley knife, rather than a saw or jig-saw. For straight cuts, I use a good metal straight-edge and cut from both sides. Also it is a good idea initially to make each board very slightly over-length, then offer the boards up to the layout and cut or plane them to butt-up precisely – it’s much easier to remove a few millimetres than trying to add a 5mm extension!
Sky boards
These are made with an additional reinforcing strip of MDF about 45mm wide laminated to the back of the top edge and a second spacing strip laminated to the front of the bottom edge. Of course, any curves should be formed before the laminations are added - use steam or hot water for tight bends, shape around a suitable former and leave overnight for the laminating glue to dry fully before releasing. Make the curves to as large a radius as possible; in my case, I have used a minimum radius of 450mm.
My sky boards are a maximum of 1.2 m (4ft) long - a good length for handling and economical for cutting out of standard-size sheets. If it is intended to join two or more panels end-to-end, I stop the top reinforcing strips about 15mm short of the ends of each panel, add a vertical strip below and a third strip ending in line with the board. This allows a 25mm wide loose tongue of 2mm MDF to be inserted to align the adjoining boards, when set-up on the model, and can then be locked with a small case-latch on the rear.

Two separated sky boards from behind, with loose tongue and case latch

The two boards joined

The boards from the front 

Four sky boards nested together

All wrapped-up and ready to go !

On completion of the boards, plane and sand all edges, check for fit and prime front, back and edges with emulsion (slightly dilute the first coat with about 10% water). It is a good idea to clamp the boards to their finished shape while the paint is drying to avoid warping. When complete, transfer the horizon line to the boards.
Scenic profiles
These are made of single layers of MDF. Start the boards so that the bottoms can be screw-fixed to the structural bed of the layout and extend upwards to the highest desired point of the scenic profile. Mark the extent of the modelled ground, trees and buildings where they abut the scenic profiles. Then mark the horizon line and carefully plot out the desired scenic profile, all of which, of course, should be on or above the horizon line.  Cut to the scenic profile - remember that the distant details will be very small so finish off carefully with a scalpel and Swiss files. Bevel the back edges of the top of the board to leave a fine knife edge. End-to-end joints can be made in a similar way to the sky boards, but without the case-latches. Sand and prime all round.

More to come,

John
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 08:51:11 PM by JohnBS »
For more information see my blog: http://ashburton-and-totnes.blogspot.co.uk

Offline JohnBS

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #67 on: November 28, 2018, 08:14:47 PM »
BACKSCENES FOR ASHBURTON AND TOTNES (continued)


Above. Picture of Totnes town and the Dart estuary.

PAINTING
Composition and setting-out
A couple of basic points need to be remembered. Firstly that the backscene is the background to the model, there to give an illusion of greater size than the actual space available for the baseboards and as a foil to separate the model from the real world of operators' heads and the general public. We are not trying to draw attention to the backscene; let's get viewers to concentrate on the modelling in the foreground. Avoid any fussy detail, lots of buildings (unless you are modelling an urban prototype) or livestock. Secondly, it is important to make the transition between the model and the backscene as seamless as possible. This means trying to match the tones and hues of the backscene to those of the model, bearing in mind the affects of the direction and intensity of the lighting.

References
It is a very good idea to get appropriate reference material for the model’s locality and period – land forms, cultivation patterns, enclosures, crops, etc vary geographically, seasonally and between different periods.


Above. View of Ashburton

For example, cultivation methods and crop types were significantly different in the pre-war period. Fields were smaller, barley was the principle cereal crop, with some oats and wheat (particularly in East Anglia), sown grass for hay, fodder crops such as kale and root vegetables and permanent pasture. Cereals were cut by binder, sheaves set up in stooks and then stacked in the yard for threshing. Elm trees were common in hedgerows. Crops such as maize, alfalfa and rape were not grown, black and white cattle (Holstein Friesians) were rarely seen and there were no 'tramlines' of crop-spraying tractors. However, the change in agricultural practices over the last century is a complex subject perhaps better described in a separate article.

Contemporary and current photographs are obvious starting points, but usually the details have to be modified to integrate with the three-dimensional part of the model. Taking your own photos has never been easier - many cameras or phones have a panorama setting. Otherwise, take a slightly overlapping series of photos from a suitable vantage point. Try to keep the camera horizontal or the resulting panorama will be curved. I have usually taken a minimum of four or five photos in each panorama (this is enough to cover a 1.2 m long board), printed them out in black and white on A4 copier paper and stuck them together. Then it is a simple job to trace down the key features on to the blank scenic board, modifying as necessary.

Similarly, references are necessary for sky conditions – as well as your own photos, there are several available  books on the subject with good colour photographs of the main types of clouds.

Consider carefully the lighting direction of the model and the risk of casting shadows of trees or structures on to the backscene. Beware the lone tree or factory chimney 50mm in front of the backscene! If necessary, locally amend the three-dimensional part of the model. Carefully draw out the main features of the scenic profiles boards. Remember that the intensity, or grain, of detail increases markedly as you move up towards the horizon. It can be useful to divide the backscene in half horizontally between the 3D model and the horizon line, then in half again and repeat several times. Each of the narrowing strips should contain approximately the same amount of detail.

Perspective
The basic rules of drawn perspective apply to backscenes as well as any other sort of “realistic” painting. The first principle is that parallel lines appear to meet at a point on the horizon, known as the “vanishing point”. This applies to straight and level roads, parallel field boundaries on flat ground, etc. However, the “vanishing point” for parallel lines on rising ground is above the horizon, and the converse.

Painting generally
Particularly for the sky and distant scenery, you are not looking for texture – thin the paint down to watercolour consistency and use multiple layers - “glazes”. If you are expecting to have a long session to get large areas done in one go, it is a good idea to mix some retarding gel with each of the colours. Don’t forget to keep the brushes in water during a painting session and give them a thorough clean in warm soapy water when you finish. Acrylic paints can be kept workable for a longer time by wrapping the palette with cling-film when not in use.

Painting the sky
Usually we are not seeking to attract attention to the sky on our models, rather the sky forms a visual break between the model and real worlds. Therefore it seems to me best to underplay the detail and contrast. At its simplest, an effective sky can be a gradation from near white (with perhaps a tint of violet) at the horizon, to a pale cerulean or cobalt blue higher up. Even in this country, cloudless days do exist! If you want clouds, remember that they are required to obey the same laws of perspective as terrestrial objects. Clouds near the horizon are seen edge-on and are distant and appear intricate, the big fluffy ones will only appear high up on tall backscenes. It is important to consider the lighting direction of the model so that cloud highlights and shadows are consistent with the ground features.


Above. Not a backscene but a watercolour which illustrates the effect of "aerial perspective" - the tendency towards pale blue as distance increases. Painting of a valley in Andros, Greece, made in the late afternoon in spring.

Painting the scenery
Begin by blocking-in the main colours. I generally mix greens for grass with sap green, yellow ochre, a little raw sienna and plenty of white. In high summer, grass colours have a significant yellow component and grass seed heads can even appear pink!  My colours for trees are mixed from Hookers green, ultramarine blue and burnt sienna for the deepest shadows and progressively adding yellow ochre and white moving towards the highlights. As the distances increase, tonal contrasts reduce and colours move towards the blue-violet. The most distant areas, near the horizon line, are almost completely pale blues with subtly varying tones.

Check with the three-dimensional model, preferably under the designed lighting and from the design viewing eye-level. Adjust the lines, colours and tones as required. It is surprising how light a tone grass and crops need to be and how important the cast shadows of trees are. Pick-out highlights such as parts of tree trunks catching the sun, similarly wall tops and fence posts. Disguise the junction with the three-dimensional model with judiciously-placed field enclosures, and, where necessary, meld with smooth fillets from the ground surface to the backscene and with careful painting. Give texture to painted trees where they are next to modelled block planting with applied scenic materials. Remember that you are striving to achieve a seamless transition and an integrated whole. As with any work of fiction, you are aiming for the ‘suspension of disbelief’

PHOTOGRAPHY
When photographing the layout or setting-up publicly-viewable CCTV, it is generally most convincing to set the camera at or slightly below the design viewing eye-level (i.e. the horizon level). By all means tilt or zoom but if the camera is raised or lowered significantly, the back-scene perspective will appear distorted and the model unrealistic.

Well, I hope that this has been some help to you. Happy painting.

John
« Last Edit: November 28, 2018, 09:04:59 PM by JohnBS »
For more information see my blog: http://ashburton-and-totnes.blogspot.co.uk

Offline Laurie Wood

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #68 on: February 18, 2020, 02:41:27 AM »
Quite the most impressive and beautifully built n gauge layout I have ever seen, at least in magazines.
I would so love to see the layout in the flesh.
Will it be shown anywhere in Britain over the next year - I would dearly love to see it
Laurie Wood

« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 04:10:58 AM by Bealman »

Online crewearpley40

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #69 on: February 18, 2020, 04:06:56 AM »
Please can I suggest not showing your mobile number? Use the pm facility for direct contact with the layout owners
« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 06:06:38 AM by crewearpley40 »

Online Bealman

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #70 on: February 18, 2020, 04:10:00 AM »
Moderator Comment It has just been removed along with the email address. As crewearply correctly suggests, please use the pm facility. :thumbsup:
« Last Edit: February 18, 2020, 04:12:54 AM by Bealman »
Vision over visibility. Bono, U2.

Online crewearpley40

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Re: Ashburton and Totnes
« Reply #71 on: February 18, 2020, 04:17:12 AM »
It's a beautiful layout which I saw a few years back and I believe appeared iin publications capturing 1930s devon

 

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