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Thread: Material for add-on backdrop painting?

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    Default Material for add-on backdrop painting?

    I want to add some backdrop (distant hill profiles) to my layout by painting something stiff and slipping it behind the trees against the layout room's walls. I thought poster board would work but it got all wavy when I painted it. Short of something as heavy as countertop laminate or masonite, does anyone know of something that will work? Possible builder's rosin paper but I don't know if it will go wavy or not.
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    Lowe's sells some corrugated plastic, like corrugated cardboard, but doesn't warp when painted. I used it to paint an end cap to match my mountain, as you can see in this post:

    https://www.nscale.net/forums/showth...248#post620248

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    I used the smooth side of the plastic 4x8 sheets used for wet applications. The stuff in many warehouse bathrooms. I cut mine to match the length of my modules so there is a bit of a seem. I added pieces of 1/4"ply to add even more stability and clamp them on. I added chest clasps to draw them together reducing the seem.
    John

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    What is your budget?
    How tall and how long do you need to cover?
    Are seams an issue?

    Do you have a Grainger nearby - Plexiglass: https://www.grainger.com/search/raw-...Not+Applicable

    ABS sheet: https://www.grainger.com/search/raw-...ategoryIndex=1

    PVC sheet: https://www.grainger.com/search/raw-...Not+Applicable

    Not cheap options but plastic is one solution. 0.0625 in thick, 16 in W x 48 is $18.56 - Delivery may not be reasonable... So pick up is better.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
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    Appreciate the suggestions all! At someone's recommendation I ended up buying a sheet of 4' x 8' x .06 styrene ata somewhat local Curbell Plastics warehouse for $67. I'm going to rip it to 18" or 12" (haven't decided yet) to get either 24 or 48 feet of it. I only need about 16 feet.

    Now all I have to do is learn how to be an artist! Prototype photo is the upper half of this.
    058 Smokies being smokey '99.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    I'm going to rip it to 18" or 12"
    You can score and snap it too... FWIW. Sometimes easier to do than ripping via table saw. Unless you have extra hands.

    Glad you had a plastic supply nearby. They are less common than they used to be in my area.
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    I'm going to rip it to 18" or 12" (haven't decided yet) to get either 24 or 48 feet of it. I only need about 16 feet.
    Methinks your math might be a bit off... each strip yields 8' of length. At 12" you could get 4 such strips, or 32' total. At 18" you would get only 2, for 16' total, with a 12" strip left over.
    An option you didn't list would be 16" strips, or cutting it in thirds, so you get 3x8'=24'.

    But if all you need is 16' then you could go with 24" strips. A taller backdrop can facilitate low angle photos, and also helps the viewer to feel like they are in the scene rather than observing from outside that world.

    Hello. My name is Michael, and I am an ALCo - haul - ic.

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    I used 1/4" plywood. A little heavy but stable.



    My first attempt had the hills about halfway up, which worked okay from standing eye height but was not so good from a low angle:



    So I repainted the treeline to be low. I like this better for low angle pics.





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    Quote Originally Posted by Jugtown Modeler View Post
    You can score and snap it too... FWIW. Sometimes easier to do than ripping via table saw. Unless you have extra hands.
    Quote Originally Posted by WP&P View Post
    Methinks your math might be a bit off... each strip yields 8' of length. At 12" you could get 4 such strips, or 32' total. At 18" you would get only 2, for 16' total, with a 12" strip left over.
    An option you didn't list would be 16" strips, or cutting it in thirds, so you get 3x8'=24'.

    But if all you need is 16' then you could go with 24" strips. A taller backdrop can facilitate low angle photos, and also helps the viewer to feel like they are in the scene rather than observing from outside that world.
    And don't forget if you use a table saw, you'll lose 1/8 - 3/16 of an inch for each cut due to the kerf of the blade. So you won't exactly get four 12" high pieces. The snap method that Jugtown suggested will not cause you to lose any material so you'll get four 12" high pieces that way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    Now all I have to do is learn how to be an artist! Prototype photo is the upper half of this.
    Bob Ross might be the man for the job. I learned to paint my backdrop from watching a few of his vids, eg; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYuH...&index=45&t=1s I used acrilic instead of oil paint so many of his tecniques did not apply but I did learn about creating distence and other handy tips. From knowing nothing to this: rsz_img_4662.jpg Thanks to Bob Ross

    I always paint on thin plywood. I find it very stable and I rather like the wood grain showing through. You could use MDF for a smoother finish.

    Good luck and have lots of fun. It's always cool to learn new things.
    Thanks, Tom

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    I took a stab at painting the first backdrop section; not sure how wise it is to stab your layout though.

    I haven't painted a painting since Junior High. Frustrating learning curve, lots of repaints, and while I'm not exactly happy with the results they are acceptable. Hopefully my next section will be better. If my artistic skills improve enough I can always pull it back out and re-do.
    20221207_101341.jpg20221207_103905.jpg20221207_104009.jpg
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    @NtheBasement

    Your backdrop painting skills are better than you think, good sir. Looks real good!
    = >

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    Remember that distant things (sky, hills, trees) get paler (1) the farther away they are, and (2) as they approach the horizon. The top of the sky and distant hills should fade as they go lower. Sky in particular is a good place to use a rattle can.

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    Yup, problem 4a is that my farthest hills look way too sky blue. They should get lighter but also bluer and less detailed.

    Color matching turns out not to be my forte. Prototype blue mountain photos:
    New River Bridge Long Pt.jpgPrinceton WV I-77.jpg
    Had a hard time finding photos with these criteria:
    Appalachian
    Sunny day with high thin hazy clouds
    Light from overhead, not dramatically from the side or straight ahead or at sunset
    Summer
    Got them off Google Earth. Most of the decent ones were from along I-77.
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    Don't be too hard on yourself. Like anything, there is a learning curve... That said, looks like a great start to me. Your self awareness will only help you improve.

    I have always been challenged with color matching. One of the things "artists" use are premium base colors and mix/blend to what they want. Often, in general, hobby and craft paints are factory mixed before we get them and other pigments that contribute to manufacture specs can play havoc when we then try to mix and match colors to a specific reference color. I am not implying you should buy more expensive paint, just give yourself some slack if they don't do what you'd like or expected.

    Also, it might be helpful if the light you are painting under matches closely to your layout lighting for comparison.

    It's an additive process. Just keep adding more paint until it's perfect!
    Steve - Jugtown Modeler - Don't know enough about railroading yet, but scale modeling is my life - Web-Folio
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jugtown Modeler View Post
    It's an additive process. Just keep adding more paint until it's perfect!
    What he said!

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    That prototype photo is nice enough I'd be tempted to order a suitably large print of it, rather than frustrate myself with hours and hours of trying to become Bob Ross.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Siegmund View Post
    That prototype photo is nice enough I'd be tempted to order a suitably large print of it, rather than frustrate myself with hours and hours of trying to become Bob Ross.
    That is exactly my thought. I would rather take some panoramic photos and have them printed out to scale. Saves me time and frustration.
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    I've seen pictures of layouts with photo backdrops and, from the POV used for the shot, they look fantastic. I thought that what what I would do until I saw layouts in person. The effect in real life is very different. When I am not looking head-on I find the foreshortening (skinnifying?) looks jarringly out of place and, IMO but not everyone's, detracts from the the layout instead of enhancing it. A hazy background painted with no detail looks pretty much the same regardless of angle, although viewing from different heights can still look wacky.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NtheBasement View Post
    I've seen pictures of layouts with photo backdrops and, from the POV used for the shot, they look fantastic. I thought that what what I would do until I saw layouts in person. The effect in real life is very different. When I am not looking head-on I find the foreshortening (skinnifying?) looks jarringly out of place and, IMO but not everyone's, detracts from the the layout instead of enhancing it. A hazy background painted with no detail looks pretty much the same regardless of angle, although viewing from different heights can still look wacky.
    I truly admire those who paint their backdrops. It takes plenty of time patience, and a very good amount of skill to get the job done right. For me and my 11' board, I think a photo would work nicely. A photo can be photoshopped a thousand different ways to get the affect you may want. Seems more pointed towards my skill level.
    Last edited by spiralcity; 23rd Jan 2023 at 02:35 AM.
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