Sulle, September 2018

I’ve taken the plunge and dismantled the layout – in order to do some electrical work underneath. This meant separating baseboards that hadn’t been split since I did the scenic work. Luckily, everything went without major damage being done.

This has created the possibility to photograph the layout from angles not normally possible, and under different lighting – so here is a selection of today’s photo-fest.


Enfin j’ai osé de démanteler le réseau – pour faire des travaux éléctriques au dessous. Il m’a fallu séparer des modules qui je n’avais jamais fait depuis le finission des scènes. Heureusement tout allait sans problème.

Il m’a présenté de l’opportunité de faire des photos des directions pas normalement possibles, et sous d’éclairage différent. Voici les résultats de la «fête de photos» d’aujourd’hui.

























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Le buffet de la gare

I’ve just completed the latest building for Sulle: the station buffet. Based, as per the main building on the one at Guéret near Limoges. A delight to make, especially as it did not take anything like the 18 months of the previous one! Fine detailing to follow…

Je viens de finir un nouveau bâtiment pour Sulle: le buffet de la gare. Inspire par cel à Guéret. J’ai pris grand plaisir en le fabriquant, surtout parce qu’il n’était pas un travail de 18, mois comme le dernier! Petit détaillage à suive…


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Ending the silence/ La fin du silence

It’s a long time since I posted anything here (at all). My ongoing issues with the damaging effects of stress and more robbed me completely of my enthusiasm for my hobbies and interests, and it is still only gradually returning.
There has been very little progress on the model over the past year, but after receiving a concerned enquiry, I can confirm that Sulle is still very much in existence.
I did make a concerted effort to complete the set of riverside buildings, which can be seen in the accompanying photos. The fact they were wanted for an article in Continental Modeller did help. There is still some work to do with fine detailing, and bedding them finally into the landscape.
I have just started work on the station cafe, and am having preliminary thoughts about tackling the spider’s web that will be the underside of the overall roof. Hopefully it won’t be so long until the next update.

C’est bien longtemps depuis que j’ai fait des nouvelles ici. Mes problèmes de santé grâce a la «stress» de mon ancien boulot restent toujours, et j’ai perdu tout enthousiasme pour touts mes passe-temps. Il revient, mais peu à peu.
Donc j’ai fait très peu sur Sulle, mais je confirme que le réseau existe toujours, et je remercie «Paulo» pour ses recherches sur ce sujet.
J’ai fini les grand bâtiments au bord de la fleuve, comme vous pouvez voir dans les photos. Il reste quelques details fins à faire. Ces bâtiments vont faire le sujet d’un article dans «Continental Modeller».
Je viens de commencer «Le Café de la Gare», et je donne des pensées au sujet de la toile d’araignée que va constituer le fond de la marquise… J’éspère que les prochaines nouvelles vont apparaître beaucoup plus vite que les dernières…OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Travelling in Style?


I named this blog carefully, in the belief that attention to the small things is often what transforms mere existence into Living. It is also a study in how this happens – and rather too often fails to.

I think that the truest reflection of the nature of a place or people is found not in the grand gestures, but in the small, everyday matters that contribute to making life what it is or isn’t. Sheer experience has shown that the approaches to this are not the same everywhere: some cultures appear to attach more importance to both pleasing appearance and high quality than others; one of my perpetual gripes about Britain is that so much here feels temporary and insubstantial, even when it is perhaps not. Maybe we need to pay more attention to the details.

Or rather, it’s not that we can’t do things well – but the…

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An M25 for high speed trains?


HS4a schematic

Our last two trips on the continent were both by train. The first was to Lyon, the second to Basel via Strasbourg. In the past it has always been necessary to change trains in Paris, and using the RER (fast metro) with luggage was never the easiest of experiences. However, recent high-speed openings have changed the landscape. The trip to Lyon involved a twenty-minute wait at Lille Europe, which is just one hour from where we parked our car at Ebbsfleet, just off the M25. At Lille, we switched to a TGV duplex (double deck) which was heading for Marseille. The trip from Lille to Lyon was three hours, making a car-to-hotel time of a little under six hours, not very much longer than the time by air with all its attendant mucking around. The second trip was very similar, with a change in Lille onto a Strasbourg train again…

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Winter running on the Bryandale Railway

A neighbour’s request for trains to run so her grandson could see them rapidly grew into a long petition of locals wanting the same thing. So I agreed to a relatively rare winter outing for the Bryandale Railway to coincide with our town’s Christmas Market. A couple of days’ basic maintenance work saw the line passed fit for operations, and the impact of feline inquisitiveness courtesy of our newish house-mate put right.

with Taliesin and Russell out of traffic needing radio attention, I also took the opportunity to clean up and maintain Myfanwy, the Lady Anne class loco that was the B.R.’s first engine back in 2005. Other than some tweaks to the radio and timing, she performed pretty well after several years out of service.

My co-driver Gavin came over on what was a pretty cold afternoon, but we managed to put on a good show of two loco’s in steam for the crowds who gathered.




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Missed again – or why Britain’s public transport lags behind its neighbours’



In 2012, the government announced the largest investment in railway electrification since the 1970s.  Lines to Bristol and South Wales, Sheffield and the East Midlands, and across the Pennines between Manchester and Leeds, and from Southampton to the Midlands were all due to be wired. We were told that it would bring journey savings, efficiency gains, environmental gains, removal of freight from the roads, and more – all of which in technical terms is true.
Last week, the same party scrapped most of the schemes due to cost over-runs on the one that has actually got underway between London and Bristol. We are now told we don’t need electric trains and the ‘visual intrusion’ they bring. They can’t both be right.
Why does this county so often fail in matters of national investment? By comparison, virtually all of the French, German and Italian main line networks have been electric for decades – and…

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Building work to March 2017

It’s been some time since the last post, so here’s a brief update. I’ve been spending modelling time on the block of buildings by the river. As there are seven of them, it is taking quite some time, especially as I am taking extra care with the details. The challenge is the different wall finishes, door/window types etc.

All of the walls have been detailed on the flat and were finally assembled a couple of days ago. Please with the progress so far – though the block is BIG…

C’est assez longtemps depuis mes derniers actus, donc voici un petit bulletin…

J’ai passé mes heures de modellisme en fabricant les bâtiments du côté de la fleuve. Il y en a sept et il m’a demandé beaucoup de temps pour découper toutes les portes et fenêtres… Je prends du soin avec les textures differents de murs etc.

J’ai fabriqué chaque face plât sur la table, et je les ai collées il y a quelques jours. Il reste beaucoup à faire…Le bâtiment me plait beaucoup – mais c’est GRAND!




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Comment créer les fond de décor maison

Le procès que j’ai dévéloppé (si on peut l’aggrandir comme ҫa) n’est ni rapide ni bon marché – mais il peut créer un fond de décor adapté précisement pour votre réseau. J’ai des procès bien bizarre, et peut-etre qu’il puissent être améliorés. Toutes idées bien acceptées!

Il faut regarder cet PowerPoint en lisant le tuto… (23mB)


Des considérations généraux…

Il vaut la peine de se préparer bien. Par exemple, je considère la topographie de l’environnement afin que le fond puisse être co-ordiné avec la maquette soi-même.

Le plus important est de trouver le niveau juste pour l’horizon, très souvent plus bas qu’on attend. Il faut aussi s’assurer que les teintes correspondent avec celles de la maquette, tout en souvenant l’éffet éclairissant de distance.

Les scènes distantes sont plus faciles à créer que celles plus proches car l’éffet de parallaxe est réduit. Il est nécéssaire de créer les choses au premier plan en 2D et les traiter comme plat – un peu comme au théatre. Un fond de décor n’est pas la même chose d’une photo panoramique prise d’un seul endroit. C’est plus comme un «mural» des images fusionnées. Ҫa c’est la raison pourquoi les images d’une société en ligne très bien connue sont si utiles!

Les coins sont importants. Je fabrique mes fonds de contraplaqué 3mm en faisant des courbes de rayon à peu près 300mm. L’espace perdue est compensée par l’effet amélioré de la scène…

Il faut faire des plans pour la position du soleil, le profondeur et directions des ombres etc. Toutes ces choses peuvent être adaptés avec les éditeurs de couleurs dans les logiciels. Je trouve ceux de Irfanview les plus faciles et rapides.

J’utilise trois logiciels parce que je n’ai pas trouvé un seul qui peut faire tout dont j’ai besoin sans une grande dépense!

Les trois sont:

Photoshop Elements (integré dans l’ordinateur…)

Irfanview – pour le découpage, recoloration, regrandissement

GIMP2 – je l’utilise pour découper les images sans avoir un fond blanc afin de les superimposer dans PowerPoint.

Je constitue les images en PowerPoint parce que c’est facile de manipuler les éléments et de préciser les dimensions essentiels.

Surtout il faut practiquer avec ces logiciels et les connaitre assez bien. Je n’ai pas indiqué toutes les possibilités ici…

Etape 1.

Calculer le totale de diapositifs PowerPoint dont on a besoin. Souvenez qu’il reste toujours une marge blanche autour des images… On peut insérer des blocs pout indiquer les dimensions et positions essentiels, par exemple les sorties routières et férroviaires…

Etape 2.

Créer un ciel. Il est souhaitable d’en chercher un sans nuages. On peut les insérer plus tard… Le ciel devient plus blanc vers l’horizon. Séléctionner une petite tranche de l’image, copier et redimensionner. Répéter sur toutes les diapositifs…

Je sugère d’imprimer un test à c’est étape – tres souvent les bleus sont plus forts qu’on attend et vous aurez besoin de quelque chose plus clair que vous croyez…


Le plus long… il faut chercher et choisir toutes les images que vous voulez. Il est important de laisser assez constant les résolutions et les colorations…Commencer avec les horizons et mettre les images plus proches les au-dessus.

Si vous utilisez Street View vous aurez besoin de «voyager» autour de l’endroit, en cherchant des vues non bloquées. Souvent on peut trouver quelque chose de bon d’en haut d’une colline. Normalement il faut faire des compositions de plusieurs de vues. On peut employer son créativité en composant des vues, comme un artiste…

Etape 4

Il faut enlever des détails non desirés du premier plan. J’utilise Photoshop Editor «Healing Brush». Il faut faire des essaies avec les tailles et durétés des brosses. Souvenir d’employer le fonction «remplacer» au lieu de «normal» (qui mélange les deux…) Les plus grand brosses évitent un effet mosaïque…

Il est possible d’obscurer des détails avec du végétation ou d’un bâtiment au premier plan. Il faut utilier les brosses un peu comme du peinture…

Etape 5.

Utiliser le «quick selection» pour selectionner les éléments de l’image dont vous avez besoin. Aucun besoin du ciel. Copier.

Etape 6

Ouvrer GIMP2. Coller l’image et utiliser «tools/selection/colour selection» pour séléctionner le ciel (blanc…) Puis utilise «select/invert» pour séléctionner tout sauf le ciel. Copier et coller dans PowerPoint.

Les prochaines étapes sont montrées dans le PowerPoint. C’est un quéstion de la répétition des étapes précédentes. Finalement, «print screen» et copier/coller l’image finie dans Photoshop pour raffiner les détails.

J’utilise le fonction «smudge» pour adoucir les bords des images surposées…

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Home-made photographic back scenes

The process I have developed (if you can call it that) is neither quick nor particularly cheap – but it can provide a tailor-made backscene to enhance your model. I have evolved some rather esoteric procedures here, and it may be possible to streamline the process.

The attached PowerPoint (23mB) should be viewed in tandem with these notes.


Some general points:

It is worth preparing thoroughly. For instance, I have in mind the geography of the surrounding, non-modelled area, so that topography etc. can be co-ordinated with the model proper.

The most important points to success seem to be finding the right height for the horizon, which is normally lower than expected, and ensuring that colours blend with those on the model, allowing for the paling effect of distance.

Distant scenes are easier than close ones, because the distortion of perspective when seen from an angle is less. Close-up features are hardest to do, and involve compromise. It is necessary to remove and depth from such buildings and treat them as 2-dimensional ‘flats’. A backscene is not the same as a panoramic photo taken from one point. It is more like a mural of merged images; this is why the camera-car of a certain well-known online company provides such useful images!

The join between the baseboard and the backscene requires careful consideration, is it is most effective if obscured.

Corners of the layout are important. I now create curved backscenes using 3mm plywood. The lost corner space is more than made up for by the improved appearance. The effect can be enhanced further by careful planning of the topography. For example, on Sulle, the river valley recedes into one layout corner, and the curving backscene gives an improved sense of depth and distance as a result, without having to resort to forced perspective.

You will also need to consider things such as the position of the sun, light levels, position and depth of shadows etc. All of these things can be adjusted using colour editor tools. I find the ones on Irfanview to be the easiest to use. This program is also useful for resizing images, sharpening them etc.

I use three online programs. The reason for this is that the free version of Photoshop does not do everything that is required, although it is by far the best for retouching images, and I use it the most.

The three programs are:

Photoshop Elements (came with computer)

Irfanview – excellent for cropping and colour-adjustments.

GIMP2 – the main reason for using this is that it is possible to take cut-outs from an image without taking a white background rectangle with it, which is the problem with Photoshop Elements. It also has good tools for adjusting parallax and other distortions.

I tend to assemble backscenes in PowerPoint as it is easy to measure distances and to move elements around. It must be possible to merge all the eventual images into one, and get it professionally printed. So far, I have not done this as I find it easier to assemble the image in small sections – at the cost of small joins though these can be disguised with care.

It is necessary to learn these programs reasonably well – I have only shown some of the possibilities on my instructions. There may well be a less clunky method than mine…

Step 1.

Work out how many PowerPoint slides you will need, allowing for the white margin when they print out. Create the requisite number of slides. It can be useful at this point to use formatted shapes of appropriate dimensions to position critical features such as roads leading off the baseboard, track exits etc.

Step 2.

Create a sky scene. You can use pretty much any image you want. It is easiest to use a cloudless sky and add clouds later. Try to find one that fades to the horizon. It is also important to ensure that the colour at either end of your picture is identical. The easiest way to do this is to use a very narrow sample strip to minimise horizontal colour variation, and then stretch the image (being plain blue, it won’t show). Paste your finished sky scene onto all of the slides you will need.

It may be worth printing a test page at this stage, to see how it looks on the model. In particular, blues print more brightly than they appear on the screen, so you may well need a much paler blue than you first think.

Step 3.

The longest part of the task by far is choosing the images you want to use. They can come from any source, but it is important to keep the resolution and colouring fairly constant. Start by selecting distant scenes with a horizon. If you are using Streetview then you will need to move around the landscape a lot to find the best views. You may need to go up hills to find ones that are less obstructed by unwanted foregrounds. It is very unlikely that you will simply be able to take one view and use it unchanged. You will need to use creativity to marry different views together. Remember to take shots from different viewpoints as you move along the scene. They can be blended together later.

Step 4. You may need to remove foreground details. This can be done in Photoshop editor using the Healing Brush tool. You will need to experiment with various brush sizes and hardnesses and remember to use ‘replace’ option rather than normal, which blends things together. Larger brushes are less manoeuvrable, but give less of a mosaic repeating pattern effect. When it come to erasing against the sky, use your replacement colour from as close to the original as possible. This process can be used to remove anything you want from the picture. The easiest thing to replace ‘hard’ items with is extra vegetation. It is also possible to past foreground images over difficult-to-hide features. This process requires practice, and is best thought of as a form of painting, using sampled colours/textures as your palette.

Step 5. Use the quick selection tool to drag/capture those parts of the scene you wish to use. No need to take the sky. Edit/copy as required.

Step 6. Open GIMP2. Paste the image and use tools/selection tools/colour selection to select the sky. Then use select/invert to select everything except the sky. Copy the image and paste it into PowerPoint. You should find there is no white background showing as happens with the free version of Photoshop.

Further steps… are shown in the slides. Basically it involves repeating the above to assemble your scenes and then putting the whole thing back into Photoshop editor to do any final blending, cleaning etc. In particular, it is worth softening the edges of overlays using the smudge tool, so they do not appear too sharply defined. Other than that, it’s a lot of trial and error!


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