ExpoNG presents a number of awards each year for layouts but they also have an open modelling competition, the Dave Brewer Memorial Challenge. Unlike the 009 Society competition this isn't just about locomotives or rolling stock and in fact the rules change every year. This year the competition is all about building a bridge. Specifically the rules are:
- The model bridge may use any scale and gauge combination, as long as it represents a narrow (ie less than 4 ft 8.5 ins) gauge, with a maximum gauge of 45 mm.
- The model can be any type of over or under-bridge and should be complete with abutments and track.
- The model may be wholly scratch-built, or use parts from kits or commercial models, but no unaltered kits or commercial models can be entered.
- To ensure we can fit entries into the available space please use these maximum sizes:
- 50 cm by 25 cm by 35 cm high for gauges 32 mm and above, to a maximum of 45 mm.
- 40 cm by 20 cm by 25 cm high for gauges 14 mm and above, but less than 32 mm.
- 30 cm by 15 cm by 20 cm high for gauges 9 mm and above, but less than 14 mm.
- 20 cm by 10 cm by 15 cm high for all gauges below 9 mm.
- The model should not have been entered in any previous competition.
- To be eligible, completed entry forms must be received by 31st August 2015.
- To be eligible, models must be presented for judging at Expo Narrow Gauge 2015.
- A prize, including one year’s subscription to Narrow Gauge World, will be awarded to the winner.
- The judges’ decision is final.
I have decided what I'm modelling but for now I'm planning on keeping it as a surprise for the day. I will, however, blog about the build as I go along as there will be a number of experiments that I'll need to make before committing to the final version. Without describing the bridge in detail I can say it's fairly decrepit looking and crosses peat coloured water. This means that I need to be able to model (among other things) peaty water and sleepers that have been weathered almost to a silver colour.
Having never tried to model water before I decided that this was likely to be the main problem I'd have to overcome. There are a number of products available for modelling water but they all seem to produce crystal clear water which isn't what I wanted. Asking around on the forums and most people suggested that I'd be best using a number of layers of yacht varnish to create the effect I wanted but I've never had much luck varnishing furniture so I didn't really fancy this route. The other option was to add colour between layers or into the water products, but again I couldn't find many people who had done this to model what I was after; the one exception being the stream on Tom Dauben's Dunbracken layout (a good photo of the stream can be found here). Tom told me that he'd used the Woodland Scenics Realistic Water and Water Effects products to create the stream with colouring applied to the stream bed and between a few layers. Armed with this information I set out to do an experiment or two.
Winsor & Newton do a peat brown ink. So armed with the ink, some paints, and the Realistic Water I did an experiment. I first painted patches of the ink and burnt umber acrylic paint on the cardboard. I then coloured the water using a few drops of ink before pouring it onto the cardboard (the weird chunk at the top I'll come back to). The colour looks better in real life and what I've found is that the ink works well not just for colouring the water but helping simulate depth where I used it to paint the cardboard. the burnt umber patch seems too dark and different from the water to be believable, although that could just be because you can see the edges so clearly. The weird chunk is because I had a little bit of the mixture left so added a bit more ink to make it darker and then left it to dry in the pot. Once dried I removed it from the pot and decided it was way too dark. Unfortunately I then put it down on top of the experimental pour and left it there overnight. The following morning it was stuck. Anyway I'm really happy with this first experiment. Obviously I'll need to repeat it using some proper scenic materials (i.e. plaster) for the stream bed, and probably multiple layers of water to get more depth but it certainly appears to have promise.
As some of you may remember it took me quite a few attempts to get a well worn wood effect sorted when painting wagons and they are a very different colour than exposed sleepers would turn (or at least I think so looking at photos etc.), so I wasn't looking forward to coming up with a new approach, but I think I've found something that works reasonably well.
The sleepers aren't the right size as I just chopped up and distressed some coffee stirrers but hopefully the painting will work regardless of the size. I started by soaking them for a minute or so in a 10:1 mixture of isopropanol and Indian ink. This doesn't turn them jet black but allows the ink to settle into distressed bits of wood quite well. I then painted the sleeper using the peat brown ink used for the water. The black sections show through giving a nice variation and depth to the cracks etc. I then followed this by dry brushing with dark sand, ivory, and finally gun metal. This approach seems to work nicely as close to you can see lots of the grain and colour variation, yet when viewed from a distance, especially with the light falling on them, they look very light in colour which matches what I was hoping for.
So I might not have actually modelled anything but hopefully I now have a good idea of most of the techniques (although not all) that I'll need to complete the bridge for the challenge.