Saturday, November 16, 2019

The Little Barn of Clermont

A few weeks ago, I made some test on the layout to see if the new more prototypical barn looked as good as I wanted.

A few pictures convinced me it was right to replace the generic kitbashed Revell barn with a more prototypical structure fitting better the locale and era.

While a lot of scenery and detailing are still required to complete this scene, this give already a good idea how this structure helps framing scenes and giving a sense of place.

Some weathering, vegetation and soil cover whould take care of the rest, which reminds me it's time to design and print a new photo backdrop before going to fast with this project!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Fast Growing Woods

Without further delay, I started to scenic the peninsula. This is a large piece of land covered by woods – mainly deciduous trees – is about 16 square feet. While I could go crazy over detailing, the sheer amount of scenic elements consumed by this disproportionate chunk of forest would make it both impractical and little rewarding. For these obvious reasons, I elected to use an impressionistic approach, relying on overall effect rather than fine rendition of individual trees.

Gloss acrylic medium not yet dry on the river...

Nevertheless, I aim to achieve two goals: create a dense enough forested cover to create a sense of distance and separation between both sides of the peninsula while creating an effective background to trains. For this reason, tree armatures used near the border are carefully selected while the ones in the middle are less than perfect. Some bare Super Trees are also used, mainly to add texture, but also to create opacity to hide defects or things I want to tone down such as the rock faces.

At this point, only trees are planted, with some vegetal debris here and there. However, the transition between the woods and the ditch as yet to be improved by addition of bushes, small trees and dead grass.

Forest floor is far too uniform

Interestingly enough, this woods works better than I thought. First, it did require far less trees than I expected when I made mock ups earlier this year. Second, since our eyes focus on the track and foreground, the wooden area get blurred in our field of vision, effectively disrupting the need for a solid backdrop between the two scenes. Interestingly enough, the creek scene works far better than we expected. Not only it becomes impossible to see where this river originates from, but the trees and meanders create a compelling impression of depth. Honestly, when covered in trees, the peninsula looks about 1.5 times deeper.

Pine trees add a touch of color to a drab scene

As for the color palettes, I kept it quite bland and regular. Greyish barks and brownish dead leaves as per prototype. Some greenish small plants add a touch of color. However, as prototypical it was, these colors were quite drab and I made about 8 Eastern pine trees using twigs, paint ad static grass. They are far to be perfect and I will probably replace them someday in the future, but they do add a touch of color that brings life to the scene. It doesn’t need a lot to completely transform our perceptions.

All in all, I’m quite satisfied with this forest as it stand now. It only took a few hours to put together and the results speak for themselves. It also brings us back exactly to the same level of completion before we tore down Clermont yard last year.

However, pictures show the woods are far too homogenous compared to the prototype. Trees haven't enough branches and some super trees will need to add texture in that department. In that regard, the problem with super trees is their branches start too long on the trunk while in a real wood, most branches are on top of the trees. I'll probably need to create hybrid trees using twigs and super trees branches. I suspect a dozen of them would make a sizeable improvement.

Another caveat is the forest floor. Shredded dead leaves does a good basic job but they can't be used in solo for a spring scene. A closer examination of photos show the leaves on the creek banks are much yellowish than anticipated. Also, many small grow plants are quite green and makes for a big contrast. Finally, ferns are also quite visible here and there among small bushes.

It means I'm about half done and probably two other layers of vegetation and debris will be required to add color and texture to this scene. The big issue being to not overdo it in the process. As for completion, about half the woods are in place, the other half to be done at a later date before starting to work again on Wieland scenery when all structures will be done and backdrop printed. I suspect I have about one month of work until I feel completely satisfied with this scene.

Monday, November 4, 2019

CFQ Shops - A proof of Concept

Having built the shops from scratch, it was time to test if it played its intended role yet again... Certainly, some details, painting and weathering are still to be done, but the now assembled structure gives a between idea of how it bring some visual balance to the scene. It is to be expected the ground will be covered in grass and parts of the siding too...

Back in the days, before the Baie-Saint-Paul engine house was built it the early 2010s, all motive power was stationed in Wieland. It wasn't unusual to see up to three locomotives there.

While the shop track can hold up to 3 locomotives, we probably won't store more than two, including the decrepit snow plow in storage as it used to be back in the days when I was railfanning the line.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Does it matters?

When I started building the small barn in Clermont, I faced a big question. While the structure is entirely scratchbuilt with high level of prototypicalness, the idea of using commercial window castings was in my mind.

Who in our modern world of available parts would waste hours painstakingly assembly microscopic mullions to obtain exact replica? So, like any good modeller, I took a lot in my junk box, hoping to find something good. Except for one cheap window and a Tichy door, everything else fell short from the real deal.

I could have compromised, but this barn is an iconic structure seen on many pictures of Wieland. After so many efforts, it felt a betrayal to use expedients. Also, the barn windows are of a typical 6-panes model quite typical to province of Quebec due to their French original design. A sash window wouldn't have worked. Thus, I reluctantly started to build prototypical windows to maintain a sense of place and time.

Left: commercial casting, right: the real thing.

It's no surprise the process was in fact less arduous than originally imagined. Certainly, I wouldn't do dozen of them, but three windows were a manageable task. At the end of the day, it was a good call to push the limits further to ensure a good-looking barn. I know I wouldn't have like a toned down commercial approach with this structure in the long run.