Or maybe, where to put the detail for maximum impact.
Railways need a purpose. For my own layout, by mixing geography, historical fact and a dose of fiction, I was able to create a purpose for my line. The lines purpose, originally was to provide a route round London connecting the north and east to the original Thames ferry ports, before their relocation to Dover and Folkestone. At the same time, by extending 10 miles beyond Brentwood a loop was created supplying the airbases and army camps at Warley and providing farmers with access to the London markets.
Following extensive upgrades during the 1930’s in anticiaption of war, the line became an important artery round north London. Post war, the line takes local honey, beer, vegetables and flowers in season to the London markets, airmen and supplies alight for the local airfields, the daily main line visitor heading to or from the ferry and liner terminal at Tilbury and of course, suburban services heading into London.
OK, very creative I hear you sigh…..whats this got to do with detail? In reality very little, but, it gives me a reason to incorporate all sorts of key scenic and man made features. My branch line terminus needs a good’s shed; my station needs space for a bus to take troops and airmen to the bases; my honey factory needs a spur for shunting and of course some cottage’s for workers.
Maybe I do actually need a small overnight shed and coal yard as well? Maybe there is enough local business to support a one band man?
Then of course, to provide an opportunity to run a daily boat train to and from Tilbury and who knows where, maybe even a “Tilbury & Warley Pullman” (having discovered a full train of wooden sided Hornby Pullman coaches and Observation Car in a box one day), I need a line off the escarpment to the Thames and a port / pier station.
From there, a line could run back into London and a terminus that provides the opportunity to model city scapes and locomotive depots, a small terminus station in post war, bombed London………
All of a sudden, purpose has given me opportunity to model a variety of connected scenes, locomotives and rolling stock (thats got your attention now, maybe he isn’t a march hare after all). I admit, I may not be very good at it, but I like scenic modelling and detailing buildings and scenes.
But that dosn’t matter. A station can be a cameo scene full of figures or simply a platform and station building. The goods shed can be a stylised masterpiece featuring Ratio, Skalescenes etc pieces or a Metcalfe or off the shelf kit and on it goes.
Track dosn’t need to be weathered, ballasted etc but you can now run that mixed good’s using that newly discovered gem for a reason. Few of us have the time or ability to replicate the Franklin and South Manchester, Ric Keller’s panoramic New Hampshire Division in N scale (Railroad Modeller March 2001), Bath Green Park by the Taunton Model Railway Group (Railway Modeller January 2012) or Alan Matthews West, Park & General (Railway Modeller January 2012) but I believe the selective use of scenic detail adds to our operational satisfaction.
I use each structure or building as a focal point for a scene. Each scene is a small area, say 12 by 12 inches in real money and I, over a period of time, detail the hell out of it! So, my 13 foot by 2foot branch line has 4 scenes; the small terminus station, goods shed, signal box and cottages and small engine shed and coal yard. Thats, being generous 6 square foot of scenic detail on a 26 square foot palette. I join the scenes together by using pink foam to create contours, based on the area I’m modelling to creat a general impression of the landscape – in my case fields, hedgerows and mature trees.
To be effective, the basic scenery musn’t overpower the cameo scenes. I use acrylic colour, paints and basic, textures to create broad scenes that accentuate the cameos.
Remember, like modern day roads, the railways came after the landscape and were often destructive to or had to overcome natures grand plan! So, the building’s were located partially for practicality and partly for cost. However, I have been able to set a signal box, a Hornby kit, compete with Ratio interior, lighting and signal man into the scenic backdrop and contour the foreground so it is visible from all angles. The same applies for the goods shed, station and engine shed.
Over the coming months, I will probably add pill boxes, a crashed or shot down aircraft into an embankment and as I have already done, small scenes such as roadworks or culverts. These small, micro scenes, often a result of the “why not syndrome” will either be merged into an existing scene, be used to draw the viewers eye and introduce them to an area or to distract attention i.e. a baseboard join. Even a single figure strategically placed can provide humour and draw attention………
I could go on for ever but I’ll save some of that for next time (if you’ll let me?). So go on, pour a beer, and if you hav’nt already done so or are daunted by the masterpieces in the magazines or don’t see the need, have a fresh look. You may be as suprised as I was……