Monday, November 23, 2015

PE Photo Prop

In the never ending struggle to actually figure out the particulars of my Orphan Branch Layout I've successfully spent more time thinking instead of actually building.  So, finally put down the tank car project for a few days and started working on a 12"x 24" photo prop that I can shoot finished projects.  Seems a great way to actually get something done in a short time that serves a couple purposes.

So, using 1x4 lumber and a sheet of 1/4" MDF I set to cutting and gluing.

Here is a basic layout of the photo prop.  The structures are salvaged from a layout I took down last year and they will require a lot of work to get cleaned up and ready for repaint and extra detailing. All the buildings will be modified to better represent Brand Blvd in the late 1950's.  

Here I've scribed the tracks in the road using a Plexi Glass cutter and some files to clean out the groves.  You have to work slowly using a long ruler and smooth passes to control the depth.  I was surprised at how easy this step turned out to be. Pads for the buildings were cut from card stock and placed where they will sit.

Overall shot, now I've laser cut the building pads out of .090" plexi glass I picked up at Home Depot.  This is a great height to simulate the concrete walks.  Sand using a medium foam pad and clean out the grooves in the side walks.

Close up of the scribed railroad tracks.  Once these are clean, the whole surface is sanded with medium grit sandpaper to open up the surface to better take the paint.  If you skip that step, the paint will float on the top and when you go to mask the details on the road you may pull up the paint.

Low level shot to get perspective.

Closeup of the sidewalk in front of the bank building.  I laser cut holes in the concrete so I can put some small trees in those spots.  I think this will be a nice detail and add a bit of green to the whole end of the module.

I painted the pads with primer and then Rust-oleum Satin Fossil for concrete.. The lines were accented using thinned down dark grey and oversprayed with an airbrush.  This detail adds a little life to what would be a cold mono tone feature.

Overall shot.  The base was painted with a few coats of primer, sanded and then two coats of black and set aside to dry.  One more light sanding and then the road was sprayed with Rust-oleum Satin Granite color.  I find this to be a great representation of asphalt and being able to use a spray can insures good coverage and paint density.  Here you see the pads, with holes for for screws to fasten them down instead of glue.  In the future if I decide I don't like an area I can detach it and add something else without having to destroy the whole model.

Jumping ahead a bit, I've attached the pads and put down street lines using Sharpie White Paint Pens, also something you can get at Home Depot.  I was surprised at how well these worked.  The track was washed with rust Tamiya and then using the Silver Sharpie,traced the track positioning the point of the pen in the grove.  A smooth steady draw and you have a very convincing track detail.  I chose not to put metal rail in to reduce the complexity and since this wasn't going to be worked into a layout, it would have been more work than necessary.  When I photograph an engine I'll just run some wires to the wheels on the hidden side.

Another overall shot. The triangle area by the red and green buildings is the site of a future service station and sign.  The bus stop will have grass pads and a palm or two to set the scene.

A quick shot at ground level to get an idea of what shots will look like.  Once things are finished then I can start working with stacked images to get better depth of field.

Next, the structures...oh my :)

The Tuttle National Bank was the first structure to be reworked.  This is one of those pre painted Walthers Models which on it's own is a pretty nice deal for the price.  I spiced it up a bit by cleaning up the seams and proceeded to repaint it. The base model is grey with a wash to hightlight the details.  I used Tamiya XF 71 Cockpit Green for the recesses.  Then I gave the model a coat of clear flat Lacquer from a Testors spray can to seal the masking. Then I sprayed Tamiya XF-63 Olive Green on all the window frames.  Another coat of clear and then masked the windows off.

Here you see the model ready for painting. I also masked off the brick sides opting to give it a series of washes and dry brushing to detail it.  Being pretty much hidden from view, it will not require a lot of time initially.  One more clear coat and then I sprayed the whole building with XF-60 Dark Yellow.  Two good coats were applied and then set aside to dry.

Below is a shot before and then a shot after.  A few hours and a couple jars of paint and you have something more visually striking and more period appropriate.

When you unmask, this is what the model now looks like.  Next will be detailing and some light weathering.  There's this nice molded in shield on the roof trim that calls out to be detailed.  I picked up some nifty LED's with a Resistor installed that I will use to illuminate the building.  At the moment the plan is to construct several boxes for the upper story to have individual rooms lit and group of LED's for the lower floor.  Clear thin acrylic will be used to represent the windows and behind those, different window treatments or window signs.  Thinking out loud, the lower level would be the bank and the upper leased office space. This way I can add variety to the view in the windows. 

The task at the moment will be to get it to a stage that it will look complete in a general photograph and then later go back and add details and accents.

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