HO with N Forced Perspective

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Steam Donkey, Jul 29, 2002.

  1. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    Last night I picked up an old copy of Model Railroader in which a fellow had modeled a narrow gauge O scale logging layout, and had used HO scale in the upper levels of the layout to implement "forced perspective". :cool:

    I am planning an HO logging layout, and am thinking of using N scale up in the mountains (perhaps mostly above eye level). Has anybody tried this? Is it effective, or does it look like a layout belonging to someone who can't make up their mind about what scale to use? :)

    Hope you guys can help, thanks a bunch!

  2. billk

    billk Active Member

    I'm confused - what are you going to use in the smaller scale? Buildings, track, rolling stock, what?
  3. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    Hi billk,

    I would use it all! Everything from N-Scale engines to structures to wee little people!

    But I was thinking of rolling stock in particular, I would have essentially two separate operating railroads. The HO down low and up close, the N-Scale up high and farther back to represent the railroad at a distance.

    Hope that clears the mud....

  4. billk

    billk Active Member

    Using a smaller scale scenery sounds OK if done right.

    Having an actual second running layout seems problematical to me, especially if a HO scale train is supposed to disappear and then reappear as an N scale train. That means you would need to have 2 of everything and maintain identical consists and ... I'm getting dizzy just thinking about it!

    Also, there is a dearth (dirth? durth? very little!) of N scale logging stuff available.
  5. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    Ouch! I just got a headache! :D HO Trains disappearing and reappearing as n scale; sounds like I'd need to build some kind of a shrinking machine in a tunnel. "Honey! I shrunk the trains!" ;)

    Truth is I didn't intend on duplicating trains, background trains would be background trains, maybe just running on a loop, leaving the operation to the foreground HO stuff.

    Hmmm....but you may be right. I don't believe I have ever seen a dinky sized N-scale Shay (somebody, correct me if I'm wrong!). Me-thinks this needs more thought!
  6. t. alexander

    t. alexander Member

    Steam Donkey,
    I think mixing scales work great for staging a photograph.

    I'm not sure how successful it would be at conveying the same illusion when your standing in front of it all though. I have seen a non "posed" snapshot of O and HO scales mixed and it looked to me like just what it was, an O scale train next to a HO scale train. I'd suggest experimenting with what angles & distance it takes before you feel the illusion starts to happen. I'm picturing in my mind right now that to start getting it using what you suggested, a valley & mountain scene, it might take four ft. to the mountain. Then about six inches above eye level whatever that may be. If you smoke alot and have low ceilings in the train room it could be even more convincing. :D
    Sounds like fun . I might do some experimenting myself.

  7. msh

    msh Member

    Oh Yes

    In my Modeling Realistic HO Scenery book this technique was offered as a viable use of your back-of-the-layout scenes. For example: he placed an HO scale building not 3 inches from an N scale building, but was specific to mention placing trees or debris in between them as a view block or transitional piece. In the photo it looked as if the N scale house was much further away than it really was - a very cool idea and if done properly an innovative one. He also used techniques like narrowing a road as it traveled deeper into the background and placing the smaller structures next to the narrow portion as well. Looked very convincing.

    I'll pick up a few teeny buildings and try it - especially on the rear mountainous region for that mile away look. I say go for it.
  8. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Hi Stan, I have never tried what you are asking about but over the years I have seen several articles and photos of this very thing...N scale as background for HO. They were impressive:) I've seen some Z scale models used as background on an N scale modular layout too.

    As I recall the trick to the whole thing was to have the N scale model slightly above eye level, possibly set at an angle so you do not view it head on and to have it far enough back so that it appears to be a structure in the distance. Looks like you'll have to experiment just a bit but I'll bet its gonna be great:) Please post some pics of it.

    As to N scale trains running on a loop in the background that seems to be an interesting challange but I get the idea...how about a tourist train running around a mountain or a log train just to keep things simple.
  9. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Can I suggest that you may want to put something in an in-between scale between the HO and the N, to force the perspective a bit more. Otherwise, your N starts looking like an amusement park train. And put something even smaller beyond it.
    If you want train movement, you could set up one of those back-and-forth electronic things and have the return track behind the backdrop; hidden reversing sections at each end. A pair of tortoise motors hooked to the track might control the turnouts.
    (just speculating -- it might work)
  10. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Steam Donkey,
    If memory serves me, that was an On3 layout with HO at the top of the mountain, "Ironhead Timber Co. by Bob Clarke. Both were in fact logging lines and he used the forced Perspective to great effect. With my HO logging line, I have in the past used N scale structures at the rear just for an effect.

    Its a good effect so long as you keep the smaller stuff higher and at the rear.

  11. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    One of the members of the modular group used to have an HO scene down below the HO main line, and duplicated the train in N scale above the main line. It actually looked pretty good!
  12. JeffGerow

    JeffGerow Member

    Perspective in scales

    On my small HO layout, 5' deep at its' widest, the left side is dominated by a hill (around and under which most of the track runs). The foregraound of the hill is a field with sparse trees, cows, sheep, horses, etc - all HO scale. As you move further back, the trees get smaller until the animals change to N scale. Various details getting smaller and blocking some of the "distance" help to separate the two scales - so you don't "see" a "full-sized" horse right in front of a "distant" horse. Futher back still is an N scale barn and farmhouse, with N scale people. No, I don't have a operating railroad back there, but it would fit right in.
    Looking at the hill, and in photos, it appears much bigger and deeper than it really is. If you have the space, a working railroad back there would continue the effect. As you create this effect, pause often and sit and look at what you're creating -- by moving some details here or there, the overall effect can be strengthened (or destroyed).
  13. fvracer85

    fvracer85 Member

    I'd like to see a pic of someones HO RR with N scale in the background....I've read about it but never seen a "convincing" use of this technique (even in the mags).....I'm curious... :D Does anyone have pics available online of such a layout?
  14. Vic

    Vic Active Member

    Once at a trainshow I saw an HO modular layout that one of the scenes on it was a "live steam" meet. The guy that built the module had used Z scale locos and cars to represent 1 1/2" scale and 2" scale live steam models in HO. Danged if it didn't look neat and it was the "hit" of the show.
  15. fvracer85

    fvracer85 Member

    Now that IS cool Vic! In MRR a month or two back one of the layouts had a fair on it and he used an N scale loop of track and train to represent a .5 scale fair train, I thought that was a neat idea too.
  16. Matt Probst

    Matt Probst Member

    Hi! Just browsing thru some back issues of MR, I saw an HO layout with a tall tree covered hill towards the backdrop and an N scale church posed behind the trees. The only parts visible were the steeple and parts of the roof, but it made the scene look fairly deep and believable.

    Matt--Hershey, Pa.
  17. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Michael Tylick did a series in MR a few years back on his Pioneer Valley switching layout. He incorporated both HO, & N scale building flats into the urban backdrop for this O scale layout.
    This always looks convincing in photos, but I'm not sure haw well the effect holds up "in person".
    Sounds like an interesting experiment, though.
  18. Steam Donkey

    Steam Donkey Member

    I also saw that photo of the reduced scale church, it was very convincing. Didn't they also show a duplicate photo, only substituting in an identical HO church for comparison? It made a believer out of me!:cool:

    In a recent issue of MR (last months?) I noticed a photo of a HO steamer cruising by a hillside of fall colored lichen trees, amongst the trees were two or three N Scale houses.

    The angle of the photo was such that the loco appeared to be coming almost at a 45 degree angle to the photographer, but the hillside was on the left. For some reason, this seemed to distort the forced perspective effect, the houses looked like N scale homes on an HO layout, the rest of the modeling looked top notch.

    Any idea why the obvious distortion? Maybe the forced perspective should only be viewed head-on, or at the most 45 degrees. I suppose having the two different scales beside each other (instead of front to back) gives the viewer too much opportunity to make size comparisons. (Did i just answer my own question?) :eek: :D


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