January 19, 2010

"By Jove, Haupt, that is an fine piece of engineering"

"Thank you, Mr Stevenson. We'll be running trains on this bridge in a few days time."

"Those piers look a mite dodgy."

"They are just in the approximate location.We'll have them squared and plumb once the scenery glue dries. "

"Well Haupt, General Hooker is sure to be pleased.

"The Army shall not want for supplies on our account. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to prepare a detailed report for General McCallum."

Several people asked about the scenery treatment. I used pretty standard techniques, except that I did not rely on ground foam for texture, only for tinting. This is O Scale and ground foam is not a good scenic base for larger scale work.

Rocks are combination of foam castings and hand carved Durhams water putty. When making the water putty I mix in a couple table spoons of finely sifted dirt, and a good shot of Spice Brown acrylic paint. This helps tone down the stark pale yellow color of the water putty. Once carved, they got a base coat of paint, then dry brush and dark washes - all with acrylics.

Base paint is a red textured paint from the Ralph Lauren River Rock line called Adirondack Bark color. I bring it onto the fascia too. My Home Depot will be discontinuing it in March, so I bought a gallon last night. At $40 a gallon it is not cheap.

Next is a layer of sifted dirt I collected in Utah. It is a decomposed conglomerate that had a red color. I selected it so that it would match the red Virginia clay in the modeled area. I found it in a rock cut last summer near the Lake Jordanelle reservoir. I packed a large USPS Priority Mail flat rate box with zip locked bags of it and mailed it home. I tried using various red clays for the base dirt, but they swell when wet, and shrink once dry causing cracks. Decomposed rocks doesn't do this. I used standard white glue and wet water technique. For the steep slopes I applied a layer of straight white glue so the dirt would stick as aI sprinkled it on. Strong sprays with the water bottle helps the dirt flow realistically on the rock faces to simulate erosion. I use paper towels to sop up the excess water that collects at the bottom.

The next step I struggled with as I have not done much O Scale scenery before. After studying photos of the era and studying some wooded areas near my house in winter, I decided to use a combination of WS ground foam and static grass. I was concerned that the ground foam would be out of scale. But what the ground foam does is tint the base scene creating a level of micro texture. I applied the static grass without static. In this way it takes on the appearance of matted winter grass that has been trampled by soldiers. Just what I wanted. The combination of colors matches well with the palette I used on the backdrop (one of the advantages of a hand painted backdrop).

Once the base is dry, I will go back in and dry brush just about everything to held blend it. I have been trying a new dry brush technique that actually uses very thin coats of dilute acrylics, so it is not a dry brush at all, but the strokes are similar to the normal dry brushing. This is a technique I learned from figure painters and it creates a much better blend/transition of colors. You hit the highlights with progressive very thin layers of dilute paint. The color builds up gradually and creates highlights without the rough contrast that traditional dry brushing can cause.

I added a few stumps and ground leaves in the background, but more of that work remains. I have lots of detail to add including grass clumps, leaf less bushes, log cribs, construction debris and detritus in the river to add. The creek will have mud banks and water made with easy water and gloss acrylic. I have been experimenting with pot toppers for the grass clumps trying to find the proper color. Their store bought green color is too artificial looking to use on a layout.


  1. Bernie,

    looks like you're having too much fun over there...

  2. I'm glad to see Mr Stevenson is making the rounds of the layout (in a starring role... :-)


  3. As Kirk Reddie says, "modeling in O Scale is like playing with action figures." Fun indeed for this 50-something-year-old going on 12.