Well that is not what I did, so now as I go about working on the MARS I am confronted with the challenge of working up a background that will serve as a backdrop to the railroad. In the one area where I did work up a back drop before doing hardly anything else, I have now decided I am not happy with it and I want to take a different approach to creating my city scape for New Beau City. I don't know that there is really a lesson to be learned from my experience here, other than recognizing that the backdrop to the railroad is an important visual tool for enhancing the overall realism of the layout and the environment in which we run our trains. Of course this would only apply I suppose to those that are trying to create that realistic environment as that is not the aim of many railroad layouts which is perfectly fine too. In terms of trying to achieve scale fidelity and realism on the MARS I like to think that I fall somewhere in the middle. To the degree that I think a backdrop for the railroad that contributes to the realism it important. I say in the middle, because I'm perfectly content with three rail track, oversized couplers and non weathered locomotives and rolling stock. It's all really a matter of personal choice and what it is that you enjoy.
Well anyways, this leads me to the most recent development involving North Bend. In order to create the backdrop for North Bend it required that I be able to get up on the bench work to paint it. That meant taking up the track, removing some of the already installed trees, and the girder bridge that was in place. Fortunately the bench work is fairly robust and easily able to hold my weight. The next challenge was painting the backdrop itself. Take it from me when I say that I am not an artist. I was very anxious about trying to paint this backdrop. In fact for a previous section of the railroad I hired the friend of a friend who is an artist and she did a fine job. In this instance she was not available and so it pretty much fell to me to tackle the project.
To prepare for the challenge I relied on two Model Railroader publications, "Scenery for Your Model Railroad: From
Backdrop to Tabletop" by Mike Danneman and "How To Build Realistic Model Scenery" (3rd Edition) by Dave Frary. I also watched a "How to Video" about painting a backdrop on the Model Railroader website. Those along with some pictures of
Pennsylvania hills were very helpful. My wife who has a good sense of color was also very helpful when it came time to mix the various colors. I used acrylic paints applied with a couple of different brushes and after they had dried I used some flat light gray and flat white paint from rattle cans (spray paint cans) to create a haze effect on the most distant hills. Below you can see the final result and the lesson to be learned here is "if I can do it, anybody can". Really!