September 16, 2009

Painting Backdrops and Fascia

Work continues on painting backdrops, fascia and scenery. I am using a textured paint from the Ralph Lauren River Rock line. The color is called Adirondack Bark- strange name for a color that resembles red Virginia Clay. The paint has a fine black sand added to it, giving a slightly rough texture to the surface. I am using it on the fascia and as a scenery base coat.

As I paint the backdrop, I apply washes of acrylic craft colors to the scenery surface to help the colors blend. Most of this color will be hidden under a layer of applied scenery materials when I get to that phase.

Chard's book is helpful in providing guidance on showing perspective for backdrop scenes.

Just visible on the horizon in the second photo is a set of three field guns. These models are 25mm scale (1/64th) and are a test of forced perspective. They are hard to see in this shot as they blend with the distant ridge line. I think I can use 25mm figures in the deep scenes to help fill up the layout with detail. There is a wide variety of 25mm ACW figures and accessories available for the wargame market. Ideally, I would have preferred to do the layout in 1/64th scale, but the locomotives were not available.

he third photos shows my first attempt at painting a structure on the backdrop. In this case a small farmhouse. There is also a faint path leading off to the distance. I'll probably install a fence along the backdrop-scenery joint to help disguise it.

I planted some trees to see how they work with the backdrop. I painted some larger trees on the backdrop right behind the trees to help flesh out the forest that lies along the bottom of this creek. This is important in the larger scales on a shelf layout. Model trees take up a lot of room in this scale, so there is not a lot of space to simulate a convincing forest in the 8 to 12 inches between the track and the backdrop.

I am getting close to the point where I need to build the first bridge. I plan to install the bridge before I lay the track. I do not plan to use a temporary bridge, but I may change my mind as things progress. It seems to me that a temporary bridge is extra work, and may make installing the final model bridge more difficult. I plan to install a wood trestle here, though my brother was advocating a model of one of Haupt's pre-fabricated Shad Belly trusses.


  1. Your ground color and texture looks fantastic. This is by far the best red clay look I have seen in a model. Do you thin the Ralph Lauren River Rock paint or use it full strength?

  2. That is just the base color that is indeed RL River Rock paint. But the lighting is tricky in these photos. The actual scene is a bit more muted. Also, this is only the base coat. It still need to be textured with dirt, grass etc.