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.

September 19, 2022

Trying some new techniques

New artwork for the backdrop
 I tried some new techniques over the past two days on the backdrop and trees.

The first was to create a new backdrop scene from photos I took at the Pamplin Civil War Museum last year. For example the house in the picture above came from a picture I took. I added some of Brian Kammerer's figures that he provided me a few years back. To make the photo of the house match my existing backdrops, I had to make it look painted. So I used Photoshop to do that using the Oil Paint filter and the then a Poster Edge filter that had been reduced to just the outlines.The photo at the right shows it on the backdrop.

This is the base image

I made a second camp scene from another image I took at the museum. In this one I started with a distant image of the simulated camp at Pamplin now used as a summer camp for kids. Then I composited other images from Pamplin along with more of Brian's figures to create a long  backdrop image. I then printed it in sections and applied it to the wall.

Here is the finished backdrop on the layout behind the tail track at Falmouth

Lone pine at Falmouth 

 Secondly,  I tried to make a model of the lone pine tree at Falmouth. I used a piece of pine carved to look like a trunk. Then I added plastic armatures from Woodland Scenics. I had to trim and modify them to look more like a  pine tree branches. I painted it with brown and dark gray and then used Superturf from Scenic Express to add the foliage. The tree looks better in person than the photo, but I am not that happy with it. It is disappointing as it took several hours to make it.  It will do for now while I come up with something better. 

Finally I added some simple trees behind the engine terminal at Falmouth.


  1. Hi Bernie. I've used Ryan Mendell's method to scratch build Eastern White Pines. Here is a link to his old blog. As he says, it is time consuming but can produce a reasonable looking tree. Good luck
    Pete Leach

    1. Bernard C KempinskiSeptember 19, 2022

      I have made pine trees as you suggest for the railroad in the early stages. You can check how they came out by looking at earlier posts on my blog. However, once I bought some pine trees from Sterling Models, I hadn't used that technique for several years.

      I did look for dried caspia or baby's breath at local crafts stores last weekend but could not find any. I may have to order some from on line shops.

  2. Bernie, the backdrop looks great! The enhanced digital images are very interesting and a nice enhancement, although your hand painted subjects are expertly executed too. I was doing some research for a paper and came across an article about Richard Neutra (my favorite modernist architect), and never realized he designed the cyclorama building at Gettysburg. The painting is breathtaking from what I saw online, and your backdrop articles made me think of it. The Neutra was one of his only public buildings in existence and the Park Service (surprisingly) wanted to demolish it. Do you know if the building is gone now? The painting has been restored and moved apparently. Jeff