Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Repairing the Ballard hill — Part 5

The process of repairing this major scenic feature of my layout is finally approaching completion. Rather than give all the previous links, I will just cite Part 4, which in turn contains links to all the earlier posts. You can read Part 4 at: .
     Defining the subsidiary ridges on the “back” side of the hill, the side toward Ballard and away from the end of the peninsula, was approaching completeness in Part 4. As progress continued, here is how it looked from a high angle (a view which is not accessible as such to layout visitors). The tunnel area is about ready for installation of the portal. The upper part of the hill has already been painted the Nutmeg color.

     One of the last areas to be completed was the Ballard tunnel portal. You can see that area at left in the photo above. I first glued the portal to the supports, which were in place from the previous layout, then carefully applied Sculptamold around the portal to get a realistic cut into the hillside. It is shown below, partway along, with final surface refinement still to come. In the center background, additional Nutmeg has been applied to the ridge in the middle of the hill. The far ridge remains unfinished.

     Once all surface contours looked satisfactory to me, as refined with the Brandt’s paper mache, and painted Nutmeg, I proceeded to apply scenic materials to this entire job of repair and rebuilding. But before describing my process of applying these materials, I should make a couple of comments on the prototype that I am trying to depict. My layout locale is the central California coast, so I need to aim at the landscapes typical of that area. I wrote a blog post awhile back about this subject, which you may wish to read. It is at: .
     I will start with the oak woodland which is widespread in my area. Here is my procedure for that scenic type (this is simply an adaptation of the well-known Dave Frary “water-soluble scenery” method). I usually use a 1-inch brush to paint on Matte Medium, full strength or diluted about 2:1, Matte Medium to water, on a working area of a couple of square feet. On top of that, I like to sprinkle Woodland Scenics finer-size turf material for a base layer, primarily a fair amount of No. T42, Earth, T43, Yellow Grass (a little too yellow, so used sparingly), and some T44, Burnt Grass, with a little sprinkling in places of  blended turf No. T49, Green Blend. Once this application has been well misted with “wet water” (water with a drop of detergent) until it is soaked, I allow it to dry thoroughly.
     The second step is aimed at blending colors, and adjusting any areas that don’t look right. Here I thoroughly wet down the area to be worked with “wet water,” sprinkle adjustment colors as needed, and again use a sprayer, with a 50:50 mix of Matte Medium and water, to make sure everything will adhere, and allowed to dry. Finally, I go back and touch up any thin areas, and begin adding various colors of Woodland Scenics coarse turf, such as No. T60, Earth, and T65, Dark Green. This is glued down with Matte Medium to make clumps of small vegetation. Here is a view of one area (on the Shumala side of the hill) with the two applications done; the area at upper left is the painted backdrop behind Shumala.

There are as yet no trees or major shrubs applied, which come later.
     I should mention that there is none of the long “electrostatic” grass in this area. This is for two reasons. First, the kind of waist-high or higher grass applied by some modelers of other regions simply would be unusual on hillsides in California oak woodland. Second, I don’t want a detailed look to this hillside in any event, to help it look farther away. This applies also to refinement in trees and shrubs—not wanted in this area. But in areas closer to the viewer, I have used and will continue to apply longer grass, and more detailed trees.
     The other vegetation community I need to represent is the “coastal sage” community seen near the coast. This is a much darker family of vegetation and normally includes extensive chaparral as well. For this, my base layer is Woodland Scenics No. T41, Soil, and a modest amount of T49, Green Blend. The addition of coarse turf is mostly the T65, Dark Green. Finally, I add some well-stretched-out fiber foliage material, which from a distance suggests the chaparral part. Here is one area like this, just above the ocean beach, with the Masonite fascia in the foreground. At upper left is an N-scale farmhouse, to lend some forced perspective.

     Pending addition of final vegetation, and completion of ground cover on the Ballard side of the hill, these areas are approaching the overall look I want.
Tony Thompson

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