November 18, 2009

Interesting Backdrop Painting

The conventional wisdom on backdrop painting is to keep it indistinct and neutral. But when a good artist is able to paint a backdrop the effect can be spectacular. The best backdrops I have ever seen in person were Mike Danneman's and Ed Louiseaux's. Ed hired a professional artist to do his, while Mike, a professional artist, did his own. Mike's backdrop and layout lighting is so skillfully done, that a visitor has a hard time discerning where the layout ends and the backdrop starts.

I happened to see recently Troels Kirk's blog that is documenting the construction of his layout. Troels is a Danish professional artist living in Sweden. His backdrop is stunning. Click the link to see more. He models the 1930's along the Maine coast in On30. (Photos by Troels Kirk)

are I tried something similar over my harbor scene? This is a Photoshop file I did as a test for a backdrop. The ships are composites from photos I took of contemporary ships with editing to backdate them, such as removing radars and antennas, and some artwork from a book on civil war ships. Brian Kammerer volunteered the artwork for the car ferry after he saw my original, unsatisfactory attempt. The water and distant tree line is from an actual photograph of the Potomac River taken last March.

I need to practice my painting techniques if I hope to capture this scene. I could try a large computer print as before, but I am concerned about how to blend it with the rest of the backdrop. Maybe a combination of cutouts and hand painting will work.

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