Tuesday, January 1, 2013

028 The Augusta Railway - Blue Sky...Smiling at Me!

We have a sky!  Yeah!  Only took me the whole vacation to get it done, and with a little help from my friends!  But its done!  Thanks to those that pitched in including Thayne, Marie, Taylor and Katie!


We took both the white and blue paints and prepared roller pans for each, as well as cups and paintbrushes for each color.  Stir sticks, wet rags and lots of drop cloths joined the mix.  The card tables are very handy, and we moved them close to the work.

My daughter Taylor was going to help us with some photos but got mad when she couldn't paint on the backdrop.  So she wound up in big trouble.  I think she just needed a nap.  So we lost the first few pictures.
Marie started rollering 2/3rd of the backdrop top in blue, and then the bottom in a fresh coat of white.  She would do about 2 feet or so just ahead of Scott.  Scott took the 3" new brush and using some white and blue paint, blended the two colors while the undercoat was still wet.

On my right you can see the blue up above, the grey primer, and the white below.  Just near my right shoulder is fresh blue and white paint.  I've got a cup of white paint and the large brush.  I would start in the blue and work down about half way into the white, then move up working out the white into the blue above. The work goes quickly...has to because the paint dries fast.  Drips were everywhere!

I was not trying for perfection, because if I did, it wouldn't look realistic.  I just tried for a wispy blend of white and blue, with the backdrop more white to the bottom and darker blue above.

Its hard to see here when the paint is wet and reflecting light, but the blend is not bad.  I would use paints that didn't dry so fast (or use a retarder) next time.  Keep in mind the last four or five inches won't be seen.
 They will be behind the scenery.

Standing in the room the affect is pretty good!

We'll leave the board to dry overnight before we start tinkering with clouds.

Here it is not quite dry yet, but I wanted to see how it came out on a camera.  Not too bad.  I was afraid the blue would wash out completely.

I can see where I worked in sections.  Have to figure out how to not do that next time.

Here is the dry backdrop.  I'm quite happy with it and will begin working on the clouds later this week.  If I can get the clouds in this week, we can begin the benchwork!

As always, please post critique, comments and ideas!

Guest Commentary:

Here is a comment from another egroup from Rob Spangler, probably the most accomplished model railroad backdrop artist I've ever seen.  He is amazing!  Here's what he had to say:

I've been working on more backdrops this week, including sky and clouds.  Here's how I handled the gradation in color toward the horizon...

First, I just paint the entire sky plain blue, and ensure it's completely dry. Starting with a base of solid, dry color works well as the later blending work doesn't soak in as quickly. For how I work, it's important to start with a dry base coat as I don't want to pull off any of the base in the following steps.

I use white PVA drywall primer instead of pure white paint for the lighter horizon color, and brush it on starting at the bottom and work up. Primer isn't opaque and is relatively easy to control. I keep a bowl of water handy and regularly dip the brush into it as I go to ensure I can continue brushing smoothly. Only a small amount is needed at a time. If dripping occurs, I quickly brush it out with horizontal strokes.

Next, I take some blue and blend it downward into the wet primer. Again, I use some water occasionally to smooth out the application.

I find that a span of two or three feet is as much as I can do while still keeping the primer wet enough to blend successfully.

Once the overall sky color is finished, I start with clouds and also often use primer for these, especially for indistinct clouds lower in the sky. Some of the current progress can be seen on my blog here http://model-railroad-hobbyist.com/node/10571?page=4 . The effect tends to be more obvious in person than in these photos.

Rob Spangler

Thanks for the great tips, Rob!  I was having a terrible time keeping the paint wet enough to work it.

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