Sequencing Scenery Construction

Discussion in 'Photos & Videos' started by Bob Collins, Dec 8, 2001.

  1. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    I'm more than a little curious about how you "oldtimers" actually sequence your scenery construction. By that I mean do you try to complete all of one phase of the constrcution before beginning the next? I feel I can realistically divide my layout into six or seven sections. By doing that I could completely do the scenery construction in one area as long as I take into account whatever I'm planning to do to transition into the next area. By that I mean make certain I have a road construction ready to tranisition to the next area. I have decided that I am not going to have a "city" as such, but a villiage. There will be no mountains as I want the terrian open and rolling. I like this idea because it will allow you to stand (or sit) and see most of the layout operation from one place. I have decided that with the sort of terrian I want I will have no tunnels, although there will be several cuts I will use to transition from one area to the next.

    I could see doing all of the foam board and plaster work for the whole layout, but some of the other things seem to need to progress around the layout a little at a time. An example might be the installation of trees, shrubs and other growth.

    When I began my track installation many moons ago I followed some advice I had received about starting in a place where as I progressed I would basically fan out. I did that by starting where there are two parts of the mainline that are crossed at 90 degrees by the line coming back around. I am wondering if I ought to start the scenery in a specific place, such as a corner.

    Also, do you set out at least your basic building allignment before you begin actually terrian construction and if so, how do you do it, by marking on the benchwork where the buildings will go?

    Any insight at all would be great.

    Many thanks

    :) Bob
  2. shamus

    shamus Registered Member

    Hi Bob,
    I think I can give you an insight as to how I go about the scenery.
    First of all, I draw the track plan with all structures and bridges in place, then visualize on the plan were my mountains and cuts will be in relation to the bridges, then draw these on the plan. So, when I start my railroad I have a good idea as to how it will turn out.
    There is another way which I used to do it, and that was to make a small cardboard layout around 1/8th full size and make it to completion even to the extent of adding small cocktail sticks for trees.
    The main thing is to keep an open mind as you progress so as not to get bogged down with too many idea's. which don't always work out right.
    Too much track can also spoil an otherwise excellent railroad, keep it simple.
    Good luck friend
  3. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member

    Thanks Shamus;

    I have a fairly detailed idea in my mind and I think I will follow your advise to put it on paper. I will also use some of the information from the plan I am building and also some from Joe Taylors article in the Model Railroad Planning 2000 book where he opens the layout up and adds an industrial area.

    I plan to begin my scenery construction within the loop in the lower left corner of the plan (#82, of 101 Track Plans). That is where I plan to construct a village on an elevation slightly above the track level. I can basically do it as an isolated area except I want to put a road across to the next section up the plan where I plan to put in a grain elevator and some small industry.

    I also appreciate what you have said about too much track. I can see where it would be a problem to add the scenery if you basically have no area with which to work.

    I'll keep you posted. I have a little more track work to do before I start on the scenery, but I'm always thing to think at least one step ahead. I also need to see about finding some good sources of the supplies I'll need to do the scenery. I have lots of blueboard, but need plaster, paints, etc :)

  4. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    Sequencing, an interesting concept

    My most extensive scenery work has been on 2'X4' HO scale modules, and on some existing scenery on a club layout.
    On the modules, the first concern was getting a finished,while not completely detailed scene. Get the ground in, and some ground cover so it's not all white. This is because the modules go on display at regular intervals, and need to be more than benchwork.
    The topography being generic to the area I want to model.
    Major scenic details, retaining walls, bridge abutments, rock formations, and major buildings which are a part of the original concept, go in next. Water areas can either be major scenic details, or the next step, depending on their impact on the overall scene. At this point I start adding the small details as needed or wanted. Because I chose to model a generic "New England" scene, in only two feet of depth, with a backdrop,or "skyboard", I chose to model all the trees individually. In a 2'X12' area I now have over 270 individual trees, a conifer/desiduous mix including several birches.
    Because I'm doing modules which have to be carried up and down the basement stairs, they had to be as light as possible, so I use a very thin shell scenery. This can be easily cut out to add buildings, or other scene changes. I've even extended existing bridges, and changed the surrounding scenery as required. I had one area where the scene existed before the "right of way", and I had to build two bridges into the scene, and lay track.
    I guess, if I had to give any advise, it would be to get the "distant" details done first so you're not leaning across finished scenery to do detail work.
  5. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member

    scenic construction

    I've found it easiest and most natural way to do it, is follow natures way. Lay down the rock, then lay things down as time would. e.g. the rock, then dirt, then some grass, then some bushes, the along would come a grader and build the road, then some grass would grow along the road edges, then a fence would be built. Then some buildings in, then some trees planted. Of course, some things have to be done in the original topography (track cuttings etc, but I found it comes up best if you do it the way nature, or man would. e.g. lay the dirt grass first, then ballast over it. I picked a part of Garahbara that was the most "not visible" to experiment on first. Anyway, that bits been bulldozed now. At was a cutting/hill that was blocking the view of trains. So the bulldozers move in. I just did it the way normal processes would.
  6. Gary Pfeil

    Gary Pfeil Active Member

    Bob, If I understand your question correctly, you are asking not just about what order to construct your scenery in, but rather the construction of the entire layout. There is no right or wrong here, it's a matter of what you feel like doing. In my case, after constuction of benchwork and laying of mainline tracks and staging yards, and after a couple months of running while accomplishing nothing, I decided to do some scenery. One scene that is approximately 2'x18'. I built the river, layered the hillside, made some trees and a road bridge, then started on the structures. About this time I was getting anxious to lay more track, to increase the operational capabilities of the layout. I found that I started hurrying construction of the structures: not detailing them as I had wished, and in general approaching it with the thought I wish it were done. So I stopped and went to track laying, leaving scenery undone, rather than rushing it and having to redo it later. Sometimes you don't notice that you've stopped having fun, that it seems like work. So, my advise is to do whatever you fell like on a given night.

  7. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I've run into the same problem with structures before...I would get in a rush to have structures, & so as soon as I had walls & roof together, I'd slap them on the layout, only to wish later that I had added a sign, a chimney, window shades, or some other detail.
    So what I've learned to do lately is to set the structures on the layout, but not glue them down, until I'm absolutely sure I'm satisfied with their placement, & amount of detail, etc...
  8. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member

    I'm in a similar situation myself. Ever since Charlie told us how he does his brickwork, I've been wanting to go back and do it to a few kits that I have on my layout. I don't know exactly how I'm going to do it because to do it safely I'd have to remove the windows and other details. But at least those particular structures aren't fastened down. I may just leave them as-is and use the "new" technique on future structures...

  9. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    I don't do all my brickwork the same way...I think you're refering to the dry-brushing over white paint that you asked me about...I also use white washes over brick colored walls. This might be a less risky method for a building with the windows already in place.
    I just brush on VERY THIN white paint, (my favorite is Polly Scale Aged White)& then wipe off the excess with a paper towel, or cloth.

    Sorry I got a little off the thread topic there...:eek:
  10. roryglasgow

    roryglasgow Active Member


    Thanks for the tip! That sounds like the way for me to go. And no, it's not totally off-topic, because it is a matter of "sequencing."

    I'm presently rearranging my town...AGAIN. The unexpected arrival of a couple of new buildings at Christmas prompted me to make some changes. In the process of removing the grass from around the locations where the buildings will sit, I discovered something kinda nifty. Remember how I had said that I didn't peal off the plastic liner from the blue foam? Well, that's worked to my advantage. To remove the grass, all I had to do was cut through the plastic liner and peal it (and the grass) off the foam! The only problem, I guess, is that it's a one-time deal. But THIS IS THE LAST TIME I REARRANGE THE TOWN!!! I AIN'T DOIN' IT NO MORE!!! :)

  11. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Uh-huh...famous last words Rory! :D
    Seriously though, I remember a long time ago hearing a really advanced modeler say that you should never feel like anything you do is "carved in stone". In other words, don't be afraid to change something you're not satisfied with.
    I'd like to see more pictures of your town.
    Maybe a before & after pic?
  12. fvracer85

    fvracer85 Member

    Ok, I'm NOT an oldtimer. But I am in proccess with my 10.5x4' layout and I have to tell you that I tend to potter a lot these days. I have the track down and ballasted, grades in place (obviously if the track is down!) and some structures built. I have a half built/rebuilt LARGE mountain and some lower hills, in other areas there is grass, bushes, and trees. The point is that I want this layout to look as good as it can (with me working on it) and personally I can't focus on one item for weeks on end without finding myself rushing or fudging to get it finished. So I potter... I dink around with the mountains, maybe put some dirt and grass else where, install a switch engine, pull a couple of wires, and then of course run the trains for an hour. That is a satisfactory Tuesday Evening for me. The layout is coming along and I don't get tired of the repetative or deeply involved parts of the construction (let's face it, if you feel that way it's now WORK, I want to relax and putz I don't want to WORK!!). Above all else, for me at least, if I do things this way I don't rush to finish, and I don't take short cuts. I guess it's as much of a personality issue as whether there is a right and wrong way to tackling layout construction, just remember, you are having FUN so don't make it WORK!!!!!

  13. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    One section at a time, I'm not bright enough to lay out the entire railroad at once. I did lay all the track and test it before moving on to the scenery. But the scenery I let evolve several square feet at a time. May not work for everybody but seems to for me.
  14. Bob Collins

    Bob Collins Active Member


    I think that I am going to do exactly the same thing you have talked about above. I have a time frame and an idea about location ( type of terrain), but think I will have to build the vision just slightly ahead of the actual construction.

    I finally decided to do it this way as I want to be able to run several eras of loco power and I think I can best do that by keeping my general terrain plan very open and simple. Look for me somewhere between Lincoln and Chadron, Nebraska!! Actually, that would offer some very interesting possibilities as there was narrow gauge at Chadron for many years and part of it was still there when I went through that area about five years ago!!

  15. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Good luck and remember it's only a hobby, it's only a hobby, it's only a hobby :D
  16. alkcnw

    alkcnw Member

    Hey Bob, you probably have enough suggestions by now but here's the way I usually do it. I get the base done first foamboard, plywood or open. Then get my track in and operational. After that I get my structures in,just set in place. Then I ballast, ground cover,and details a small section at a time. Each one like a single scene that all blends together. I don't know if this all makes sense, but it sounded better in my head!!!:eek:
  17. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    Hi Bob,

    I think I am like most, I draw the trackplan and then sketch or visualize terrain and structures. Trying something different with my town on my club "N" scale module. On a previous post I showed the skeletons of the buildings on a piece of 1/8" luan. I played with the building placements for almost two weeks before I was satisfied. Now I have cut up the luan into building lots. This will enable me to complete each structure and its' surroundings at my workbench. Then each segment will get glued into place alongside the road or rail spur. I can hide all the joints with overlapping sidewalks, hedge rows, etc. Think this is going to save a lot of bending over a layout with tedious things. I can make the tiny chain link fences, board fences, signs, flower beds and all that other fine detailing at the comfort of my bench. Oh well, nothing ventured - nothing gained.

    Attached Files:

  18. Bill Pontin

    Bill Pontin Member

    Here is a shot with the structure skeletons in place

    Attached Files:

  19. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Damn that's a good idea (not one I can pull off) but a good idea never the less! :cool:
  20. Drew1125

    Drew1125 Active Member

    Ah, to have foresight, & organizational skills like that!
    All I got was mountains of clutter, & plenty of 20-20 hindsight!:rolleyes:
    (translation - I got 4 kids! :D )

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