Pete's Pumpkins

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Creating A Backdrop – Part One

With the groundcover in place it was obvious that before I could precede any further I would need to install the backdrop – as I couldn’t add scrub brush and trees without it. I had every intention of painting the backdrop, but as I was surfing the web for reference images it dawned on me that I might be able to print a suitable backdrop – which would save me a great deal of time and effort…

I found a very nice image of rolling farm fields with a smattering of autumn trees that looked like a good fit for Pete’s Pumpkins; however the image was far too small to create a decent print. Rather then search for a higher resolution image, I elected to apply a few Photoshop filers to the image to give it a more ‘painterly’ look. The end result wasn’t sharp, but suggested the scene very suitably. After trimming the printout and eyeing the results, I decided that while the backdrop helped the model immensely –the colour wasn’t right. I discarded the print, resolving to correct the colours to more closely match the foreground scenery.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Modelling Scale Pumpkins

While I’ve been working on the layout I’ve been trying to decide how to justify the existence of a narrow gauge railway on a pumpkin farm. I decided that the only reason a pumpkin farmer would need a railway would be because either he has a high volume of goods to transport, or the goods are quite heavy. It seemed unlikely that a farmer would use a railway to transport pumpkins when a tractor and wagon would suffice – however – it seemed reasonable to presume that if the pumpkins were large, too large to load onto a wagon, that a farmer might use a railway. Hence, I’ve decided that Pete of Pete’s Pumpkins specializes in growing competition-grade monster pumpkins.

With the industry of the model railway finally decided upon, I set to work in creating a flatcar and some pumpkins for Pete. I shortened the underside of an old N scale boxcar, and glued on a new deck I built using some bits of styrene. I gave the flatcar a quick coat of flat-black spray paint, as well as some red oxide and dark brown.

I next modeled some ‘monster’ pumpkins. Using the leftover Sculpy I managed to model four very large pumpkins. Monster pumpkins aren’t the typical pumpkin shape – they look like they’ve collapsed under their own weight and have a pancake-like look. The models I created represent competition-grade pumpkins with an approximate weight of 350-500lbs each – which now makes having a railway much more plausible!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Groundcover and Ballast

A busy week has kept me from making any progress on the layout – so when I did manage to steal away a few hours, I decided to maximize the time. I wanted to start scenicing the layout, so I decided to add the groundcover and ballast the track together to save time. I applied a coat of full-strength white glue to the hills, banks and roadbed sides before sifting on combinations of dirt, blended leaves, ground foam, twigs, rocks and ballast. When I was satisfied with the results, I misted the entire layout with water and applied diluted white glue. Hopefully everything will be dry by tomorrow!

Saturday, September 8, 2007

The Barn Is Finished (Mostly)

A few nights of scoring, bending, painting a gluing have paid off, and I think I can say the barn is done. Working in N scale sure spoils you when it comes to the quantities of materials needed! This structure was a pig!

I built the barn door using some bits of rail, the wheels off an old N scale boxcar and some scrap styrene. The door can slide along the rail so I can open or close the door depending on my mood.

I’m pleased with the barn, although it would certainly fail close scrutiny. Then again, this is a ‘fun’ layout that I’m building just for the experience, so I’m not too worried about its accuracy. I’m likely not going to super-detail it, however knowing myself fairly well, I will likely add things over the next few weeks in the moments where I procrastinate from building trees…

(Excuse the shine on the roof of the barn – the dullcoat hasn’t dried yet)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Installing Barn Boards

I spent the evening sheathing the barn. In a few short hours I managed to install most of the barn boards atop the foamcore base – less the fact I ran out of boards… Because the boards are cardboard, they tended to curl once installed, some more then others, which gave a nice effect. Anytime a board started to curl too much, I simply dabbed a little hot glue on the underside and stuck it in place.

Eager to see how things would look, I have the entire structure a quick weathering before replacing it on the layout. I first spooned dirt onto each of the walls, and brushed it away using a makeup brush. When I was happy with the effect, I sprayed the dirt with dullcoat to set it in place. I next sprinkled some fine ‘earth’ ground foam onto the wet dullcoat near the base of the structure, followed by a very light dusting of light green. The effect is that of a damp, mossy barn.

There are a few major details I need to add – namely the doors, and the roof, however at this point I’m happy with the results for the effort.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Barn Boards and Steel Roofs

With the barn structure built I was ready to start adding the siding and roofing. I had figured out how I wanted to model each, but having never tested either technique I thought it best to create a ‘test’ piece. As I wanted to add a structure to the right side of the layout, I decided to model an outhouse to try out my ideas.

In the end I was very happy with the results, and I am ready to start sheeting the barn!

Building the Outhouse

I built the privy in the same manner I made the barn – hot gluing foamcore to create the basic structure, and adding a flap of cardboard from a cereal box as a door.

Modeling Barn Boards

I first covered a piece of cardboard with a mixture of tan and gray paint – rather then mix the two colours consistently, I opted to leave them as mottled a possible to give the card some colour variation. I sprinkled some fine ballast onto the wet paint – ballast colour wasn’t important as I was going to use this as an abrasive. I then dragged a scrap piece of foamcore across the surface of the card (in a uniform direction) until I had removed the majority of the ballast, and the surface of the card had numerous vertical scratches. Once dry, I rubbed off the remaining ballast with my fingers and applied a light misting of black spray paint to add some small black flecks. Again, I waited for the paint to dry and applied a thin blotchy wash of burnt umber oil paint and varsol to the surface of the card. I cut the card into scale boards, and mixed them up – reversing some of the boards end for end in an attempt to hide all seams. I painted the privy flat-black and attached the boards one at a time with white glue – making sure to leave a small gap between each board. Once the glue had dried, I weathered the structure with some real dirt, applied some Testor’s Dullcoat, and dusted on some fine green ground foam to represent moss.

Modeling Corrugated Steel Roofing

I cut some heavy tinfoil into scale siding pieces approximately 2x8 feet in size. I laid the foil on a soft piece of pine, and placed a large bolt atop the foil at one end. Using a piece of hardwood as a pressure block, I pushed down firmly on the bolt with the block of wood, and rolled the bolt along the length of the foil. The threads of the bolt dented both the foil and the wood, creating the characteristic corrugated pattern. I sprayed the individual roofing pieces with black/brown/red oxide spray paint to create a dull weathered look. Once the paint was dry to the touch, I dragged a rag along the surface of the foil, and removed some of the paint – exposing the foil beneath. I hot glued the sheeting to the roof, and applied alternating coats of dirt and dullcoat for weathering.