Friday, April 15, 2016

Modern Progress

Yesterday I started working on Donohue's scenery, mainly the access road and employees parking lot. Everywhere on the layout I used gray paint to mockup asphalt, but Donohue was ready to get a layer of the real thing.

In the past, I used several different methods of making road: painted cardboard or styrene à la Lance Mindheim, Gordon Gravett's talc powder trick and drywall joint compound tinted when dry. Most of these method can yield great results depending on you color choice. Getting the right color is in fact much more important than which material you use. As a kid, I used tar paper on my first layout, but let discard that one for obvious reasons.

This time, I decided to use lightweight spackling following Mike Confalone's recipe. Once again, it looks easy on video, but it's quite something else! First of all, it is far thicker than regular drywall mud. I precolored it with black and raw umber to get a decent tone of grey, but let me tell you stirring the mix was a real challenge.

Spackling is also a little bit harder to spread evenly and smoothly. My first batch was full of air bubbles and it was hard to get rid of it. At this point, I put a very thick layer so I would plenty enough material to sand down when drying. Such is the way I made the road.

The job was much more easier when I did the parking lot. For some reason, the mix had less air bubble and was easier to spread.

You probably saw my mix is pink! I couldn't find regular white spackling so I purchased the pink one. The pink color is an indicator and when the stuff is dry, it turns white. As some spackling started to dry, it took a nice warm gray color. Unfortunately, the pink color makes it hard to guess the final color when you mix in the pigment.

As a matter of fact, I believe this method is good for small rural roads without curbs and have some complex geometry. It is also quite good for large expanse of asphalt. But for more urban roads with curbs and other details like that, I think I'll go back to the cardboard method. At least, in Villeneuve and D'Estimauville. Since these roads have very complex painted line works, I'd rather paint them at the benchwork than in place.


  1. Matthieu,

    I have used this method for roads on my Algonquin Railway. Make sure you wait at least 3-4 days before you sand. This stuff when put on thick dries from the outside in. I made the mistake of sanding it after the surface was hard, about 24 hours after applied and made a big mess of it, when the soft inside started to come through. This stuff is really easy to sand when fully dry and takes powder and washes really well for further colouring.


    1. Thanks for the tip Ryan! I was expecting to start sanding it tomorrow but I guess I'll wait a little bit more just to be safe. Good thing I read your comment before making a mistake! The possibility to easy sand and shape the material when dry is a big plus to me.