A journal following the history, design, construction and operation of Bernard Kempinski's O Scale model railroad depicting the U. S. Military Railroad (USMRR) Aquia-Falmouth line in 1863, and other model railroad projects.
©Bernard Kempinski All text and images, except as noted, on this blog are copyrighted by the author and may not be used without permission.

December 18, 2010

Backdrop at Aquia Landing

I painted the backdrop at Aquia Landing today. Here is a shot showing the backdrop before I add the ships.

This shot below is a closer look at the large dark cloud on the left side behind the future Burnside Wharf area. The dark cloud works in this area for two reasons. First, the room lighting falls off a bit as you approach the frame of the door. So the dark cloud there "explains" why the the lighting is less. Secondly, the door frame acts as a picture frame, cutting off the large cloud and avoiding the extreme expansion of the cloud as the perspective lines diverge.

It would have been much trickier to execute this large cloud if the backdrop continued further to the left. For example, the photo at the right shows a large cloud in the center of the wall where there is no "frame" to set off the cloud. In this case, it is better to paint  flatter clouds and rely on atmospheric perspective to provide depth. Or more simply, just omit the large clouds that extend overhead and paint low clouds along the horizon.

I plan do a post later to explain my theories on perspective in backdrop painting.

Here is a quick and dirty time lapse video showing the backdrop as I painted it.

The wet bar is taking shape. Marty stopped by on Thursday to wait for his son to arrive via Amtrak  at Alexandria Station. So I put him to work building benchwork. He made the usual gripes about how my tools are no good, but we managed to finish the framework to support the water surface at Aquia Landing. After he left I installed the hardboard water surface and the curved fascia pieces at the perimeter. Alicia likes how they came out.  I still need to get a few more pieces of lumber and hardboard before the benchwork is completely done in this section.

With the door to the office closed, the basement looks like river front property :)


  1. The tip of the big cloud ends about at the point of tangent before the cover of the backdrop, right? That makes sense, so you don't have to worry about "parallax" with the cover.

  2. I take it as a good sign that you can't tell where the cove begins.

  3. The main reason for the pointy cloud is to pull your eye into the scene. The vanishing point is at the center of the coved corner. This perspective works from both sides of the peninsula. I did a similar perspective trick at Falmouth. There I used two vanishing points, so that the clouds recede into the distance, but the room also looks bigger as the clouds got smaller as you go closer to the engine terminal.

  4. Beautiful! In that last shot, if you didn't already know the truth, you could easily be fooled into thinking you're looking out onto an open balcony that overlooks a harbor or river.