Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Also sprach Zarathustra

As the sun rose over Duchal Moor a random estate worker had to find a rock to sit down on when, after discovering a large randomly placed concrete block, his head was filled with strange brightly coloured visions of advanced technology.


Back in reality, while one end of the bridge over Blacketty Water is supported by a large rock outcrop the other end rests on a large concrete block. I think, by taking measurements from the photographs, that the block is approximately 5 feet tall, 1 foot deep, by 3 feet wide. Now I'm sure there are many ways I could model this block but I decided to try and make it from the same casting plaster as the rocks. So I built a small rectangular mould from plastruct stuck to a sheet of plastic. I used 4mm square section for the sides (which gives the 1 foot depth) but left one short side loose so that I could remove it after the plaster had set to help get the block out of the mould.

Once I had a suitably sized block it was then coloured using diluted Woodland Secnics concrete liquid pigment and a thin wash of the stone gray, before these were sealed with scenic cement and then a thin black wash applied to dirty the block a bit more. It will clearly need more weathering once it's bedded into the diorama but I think it's worked out quite nicely, although due to a few bubbles in the casting I might make a second block for the actual diorama.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Rocks, Rocks, and More Rocks

While yesterdays rocks were an improvement I decided that they were probably too uniform in colour, so I've had yet another go. In fact I had two castings to hand so I've used the same approach to paint two new rocks (at the front) in the same way to check the process is repeatable.


The two new rocks were both painted by first randomly covering areas in stone gray and concrete. Once dry a thin wash of stone gray was applied to the entire rock to both darken the colours and to blend the areas together. This initial base coat was then sealed using scenic cement before a thin black wash was run over the rock with extra black added to highlight obvious cracks and features.

This seems to give a similar overall impression to the rocks I painted yesterday but with a more natural looking variation across the surface. I think they look a lot better and hopefully I won't change my mind again tomorrow.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Rocky Road

After feedback, both here and on a thread on NGRM Online, I've had another go at painting rocks.


The two new rocks are at the front. Both were painted with a less diluted mix of stone gray and a thinner wash of black. The one on the left I used a much thinner black wash and focused it in on the details much more carefully. I think this works much better than the previous attempts as there is a nice base colour and plenty of variation. It might not be a perfect match but I think it's close enough to what I want and anyway lots of it will be covered in lichen, moss, and other gunk.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

As well as water one of the main features of the diorama I'm planning is the rock outcrop that supports one end of the bridge. Now I have cast and painted rocks before but on that occasion I wasn't trying to match the rocks to a specific spot, so I decided some more experimenting was in order; yesterday I cast a bunch of rocks and today I've slowly painted up a few small pieces to get a better idea of what colours might work.


While there are five rocks I've used just four different, heavily diluted, Woodland Scenics liquid pigments to paint them; four used just a single colour for the base coat, while one used a mixture of two colours. Starting at the front we have a small rock painted with black. Behind it on the left the rock was painted with concrete, while the rock on the right was a mixture of stone gray and black. At the very back on the left the rock was painted using just stone gray, while on the right I used earth undercoat. Once the colours had dried they were sealed with a thin layer of scenic cement and then a wash of black to help highlight the details.

I think the rock at the front that used just black is probably the closest to what I need although it needs lots of lichen and gunk adding. I'm not convinced by the two tone rock (second row, right) and the concrete is way too light. The stone gray looks good but I think even with dirt added etc. would be too light. The rock I coloured using earth undercoat is obviously very wrong for what I'm currently modelling, but if I wanted a sandstone outcrop I think it would work quite well.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Water Under The Bridge

Having decided that adding peat brown ink to Woodland Scenics Realistc Water showed promise I set about doing a slightly more in depth experiment. The plan was to generate a small test piece of plaster covered scenery where I could pour some water and see how it looked.


Annoyingly I forgot to take photos at a number of important stages but you can at least see the piece before I added the water and when I'd finished. The colours of the rock and ground aren't great (they were what I had to hand) plus I don't think I let the plaster dry for long enough before painting so it's a bit of a mess. Either way you can see what works and what doesn't regarding the water.

Basically if there is sufficient depth of water then it looks great, but if it is too thin the colour goes wrong. This is easy to work with on the actual diorama as I want a fairly even depth of water. The flow effects were done by adding Woodland Scenics Water Effects. I added some on it's own, but also some with a bit of Woodland Scenics snow mixed in. This did add a little sparkle but not much so most of the ripples were then dry brushed with ivory to make them look more like churned up water.

While not a completely successful experiment I think I'm fairly happy with the approach it just needs finessing slightly rather than totally rethinking. I'll probably have another go shortly but I'm fairly happy that I should be able to model the water well enough for the diorama to be believable.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Duchal Moor Railway

When I originally started work on a bridge for the Dave Brewer challenge I wasn't sure if I was going to copy an existing bridge or just use one for inspiration. That is why, until now, I've specifically not mentioned the bridge I'd been looking at. Of course, as comments on recent posts have shown, it's difficult for any of you to make comments on how accurate something I've modelled is if you have no real idea of what it should look like, so......

The Duchal Moor Railway, known locally as the Grouse Moor Line, was built by the shipbuilder James Lithgow to help transport people and equipment out to the shooting butts on the moor. When completed in 1922 there was approximately 7 miles of 2ft gauge track. The railway closed in the late 1970s and most of the line has disappeared back into the peat bogs it was built over. One of the remaining sections of the line includes a bridge over Blacketty Water which I'm using as the basis for my model.


Clearly it's not a particularly big or complex bridge but I was looking for something that I had a could model with a chance of finishing in time, and which would also let me experiment with a bunch of new techniques. To follow up on the question of sleeper size here is a comparison of the test piece of track and the real track.


Having measured from the photo, I think the majority of the sleepers are around 2' 9" wide but I've modelled them as 3' (so 12mm) to give a little more width. Even with the extra width they look very narrow due to the over sized spikes and heavier rail. Given there is not much I can do about the rail or the spikes (I really couldn't handle smaller spikes) I think the track looks like a reasonable representation, especially as when viewed from a normal distance the spikes blend in more than they do in the close up photo. I suppose the other option would be to just glue the rail down and not bother with the spikes given how small they are in real life but somehow that seems like cheating.

Anyway, now you all know what bridge I'm basing my model on hopefully you'll keep making helpful comments as I continue experimenting and then building the final model.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

OO8: 4mm Scale, 2ft Gauge Track

One of the problems of modelling in OO9 (9mm gauge track in 4mm scale) is that often the track isn't really to scale. 9mm track at 4mm to the foot is 2' 3" but narrow gauge railways varied quite widely in their choice of track gauge. In Britain possibly the most common gauge was 2 ft meaning that 9mm track is 1mm too wide.

The bridge I'm building for my entry to this years Dave Brewer challenge carried a 2ft gauge railway and given I'm aiming for the smallest entry category (to make it easier to transport on the train) I thought it made sense to produce track to the correct gauge so I give you my first attempt at OO8 track (8mm gauge track modelled at 4mm to the foot).


As you can see this combines the numerous experiments I've been blogging about recently (here, here, and here) to produce a short test piece. Producing actual track using rail spikes in this scale is exceedingly time consuming. I've probably spent about 10 hours producing this small piece, although by the end of that I'd got a system going that means producing more will be quicker but not by much. On the plus side the track is to scale and an accurate representation of the real track I'm modelling right down to the number and placement of rail spikes. The spikes look a bit too big in the photos and they probably are, but in real life they blend in quite well.

I'm really happy with how the track has turned out, although it has meant that the number of hours I thought I'd need to build the diorama for the challenge has increased quite substantially. I should still have enough time though so I'm not worried.... yet.