Methods/téchniques – 2

This is the second instalment of my thoughts on scenic techniques…

Topography and landscape.

No surprises here either. The baseboards were made open-topped from 9mm ply and about 15cm deep, so that the river valley had sufficient depth. The spaces were infilled with expanded polystyrene and covered with filler, in progressively more dilute layers in order to achieve the finer detail.

I have used static grass for the first time, and am very pleased with the results, provided one varies the coverage and colours used.

Trees are sea moss. I think it is important to be ruthless with the pieces one uses. They must have a convincing tree shape. I cut off all the leaves with nail scissors then cover the main ‘trunk’ with a filler/glue/paint mix to bulk it out. I spray the whole thing either grey or brown. Then either hairspray or spray glue is used to scatter static grass fibres over the tree to create foliage. Colouring is critical; I opted out of anything more radical and went for a late-summer dark green.

Before planting the trees, I prepared suitable ground surfaces using Woodland Scenics scatter and tufts of hanging basket liner. I think the thing here is to remember that large stands of trees generally don’t have full grass ground-cover beneath them.

The rock face is made using a Woodland Scenics mould and casting mix. I broke the large pieces up to fix them in place and filled the gaps by hand, so as to avoid a repeating pattern. The small retaining wall was simply made by smoothing the surface and scribing the stones.

The river is Woodland Scenics resin over a painted bed, the colour being varied to represent different water depths. I tried to consider the route of the current, hence one finds eroded river banks and areas of deposition as appropriate. I varied the surface, with ripples in areas of shallower or more exposed water and a still surface in deeper or sheltered areas.

Ballast: a small breakthrough here (for me at least). I experimented with Chinchilla sand, which works well – but better still if mixed with a second colour, in this case a Woodland Scenics fine grey. The two-tone effect is much more realistic than monotone, even once weathered down.

Further thoughts…

I think colour is important. From the scale distance we observe N scale, colours are muted. I always use very dilute colours and add more than one coat if needed. I’ve tended to move away from enamels towards acrylics for this reason. Observing what colours things actually are is also essential – old sleepers are more grey than brown, for example. Always work from photos, but exercise restraint: even a heavily weathered item can easily look overdone in N scale. I think this goes for more recent ‘dimensions’ such as light and sound; again they are too easily overdone in N scale. Lights in particular are often far too bright on many models.

The second really important thing is proportion. In photos at least, nothing is a greater give-away of N scale than fat dimensions. This is particularly apparent with things like lamp posts, fences, signal posts and railings. So I make regular use of a digital calliper and reject anything over-scale. I even managed to get some grains of chinchilla sand in there just to check…

Proportion is also important with the overall plan. It seems to me that N scale in particular creates the urge to cram as much as possible into a small space. I think that keeping distances as close to scale as possible, even if it means modelling less, removes one of the main give-aways of a model.

Observation. I spent ages creating PowerPoints of attractive features, and roaming around Google Earth. The aim is to identify attractive features, observe typical practices and to understand atmosphere and character. It is necessary to saturate yourself in this, so that it is barely necessary to think about it while actually modelling. This was part of the reason for setting myself the challenge of modelling a different country for the first time – everything from the architecture to the effects of weathering is different, and it needs a lot of looking at. In the event, we actually made a holiday to the area and assembled a large file of photos of things that were not visible online.

Think beyond the baseboard. I consider the model to be a slice of the real world, so it needs to make geographical and topographical sense. Sulle is supposedly set slightly up on a hillside above the town; while this is all on the back scene, it influenced the topography at the rear of the model, such as the top of a retaining wall as well as the height of the foreground buildings on the back scene.

Finally, don’t be intimidated by N scale! It is too easy to think that it can’t be done (or worse, it isn’t necessary) in small-scale modelling. I’m so glad that Cav Millward pushed me into making my own track for the first time: it makes such a difference. The same goes for scenic modelling – the small details CAN be done. I take a lot of inspiration from Model Railway Journal and the books of Gordon Gravett, even though they have little direct content about 2mm scale.

 

Voici le deuxième chapitre sur mes téchniques de décor…

Le paysage:

Aucun surpris ici, non plus. Le topographie est formé de polystyrène éxpansé, couvert de plâtre. Je mets plusieurs de couches, chacun plus liquide que la dernière, pour créer les petits détails.

J’ai utilisé les fibres statiques pour la première fois, et les résultats me plaisent beaucoup.

Les arbres sont en mousse de mer, les troncs aggrandis de plâtre et l’ensemble peint à la bombe (gris ou brun). La verdure est representée par les fibres statiques vert foncé.

Avant de poser les arbres, j’ai préparé la terre: c’est important de souvenir que les grandes espaces boisées ne sont couvertes jamais de l’herbe.

La falaise est de chez Woodland Scenics. J’ai cassé les pièces moulues et les ai rassemblées pour éviter la répétition de formes.

La fleuve est en resine de chez Woodland Scenics, sur une basse peinte en bruns variés pour réprésenter les differentes profondeurs d’eau.

Le ballastage. Une petite avance ici (du moins pour moi)… j’ai utilisé le sable de chinchilla qui va bien, mais même mieux si melangé de quelquechose d’une couleur foncé, en ce cas le ballast gris clair de chez Woodland Scenics.

Des pensées additionelles…

L’essentiel est de réproduire fidèlement les couleurs. En N, la distance éffective entre la maquette et l’observateur est habituellement assez grande. Donc, les couleurs doivent recéder plus qu’en les échelles plus grandes. Même la patinage lourde doit être faite avec restraint. C’est la même chose avec les sons et l’éclairage. En N, les lampes réalistes doivent être assez faibles.

La proportion. Il me semble que tres souvent, le N crée la tentation de remplir chaque coin d’une petite éspace. C’est plus réaliste de laisser beaucoup d’éspace, même s’il est une quéstion de faire moins mais mieux. C’est plus important pour les chemins de fer continentaux qui sont très souvent plus spacieux que cels de Grande Bretagne.

C’est très important de résister les choses trop grasses sur la maquette. C’est une problème surtout avec les mâts des lampadaires, les rambardes, les signaux, les cadres des fenêtres. Surtout dans les photos, ces choses trahissent la maquette. J’utilise très souvent mon calliper numérique pour vérifier les dimensions – même pour les grains de ballast…

L’observation. Je me suis posé le défi de réproduire la France afin que je puisse améliorer la connaissance des quelquechose un peu moins familier. J’ai passé beaucoup de temps en regardant les photos, Google Earth etc. et en créeant des PowerPoint d’images attrayantes. Même la patinage est un peu différente en France qu’en Angleterre à cause des différents climats et materiaux: ca vous fait regarder bien…

Pensez au dehors des plateaux. Il faut considérer la topographie voisinale de la tranche qu’on réproduit. Le topographie doit être fidèle et ca peut influencer la topographie sur la maquette soi-même et sur le fond de décor.

Finalement: N’ayez pas peur de cette échelle petite! C’est facile de croire qu’on «ne peut faire cela» dans cette échelle – ou pire, que ce n’est pas nécéssaire! Je suis reconaissant de Cav Millward pour m’avoir poussé vers la fabrication de la voie maison. Ca fait un grand difference!

Je prends toujours de l’inspiration des maîtres des échelles plus grandes.

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