Sunday, May 31, 2020

Riley layout book published!

The title refers to a book just published by Kalmbach Books, entitled Realistic Layouts, by my long-time friend, CJ Riley. The subtitle of the book is “Use the Art of Illusion to Model like a Pro.” That reflects the title that CJ wanted for the book, which was “The Art of Illusion.” He of course means the many subtle techniques and tricks we all use so that our relatively tiny slices of modeling will look like the world around us.
     The cover is shown below. I liked the subtle (there’s that word again) treatment on the cover, in which what appears at a glance to be solid color is actually a sea of trees.

This is the standard Kalmbach paperback book, 8.5 x 11-inch pages, softbound, 96 pages, and it maintains their standard price point, $21.99.
     My friend Riley has been working toward this book, on and off, for over 20 years, so I am really pleased to see it finally out in the light of day. Kalmbach’s high standards of quality production serve the material well. The book contains many of Riley’s photographs, both model and prototype, along with a good sprinkling of photos by others to illustrate particular points. And I like the gracious foreword by Tony Koester, which kicks off the book in suitable style.
     Strikingly, Riley’s background as an architect gives the book a distinctly artistic and creative content, making it a book that probably ought to be on one of your shelves right next to Lance Mindheim’s book, entitled Model Railroading as Art (which I reviewed in an earlier post; see that review at: ). Most of us don’t have any art background, so both books can teach us a great deal.
     The book comprises ten chapters. The first is entitled “Planning a realistic model railroad,” followed by two chapters on “Secrets to life-like backdrops” and “Planning realistic scenery.” A high point is Chapter 4, “Mirrors for illusion.” The text then proceeds through chapters on “Installing accurate bridges,” “Modeling structures,” and “Weathering,” all topics that are components of the overall theme. Concluding chapters on “The importance of color,” and on “Setting the mood,” bring everything together .
     I have copies of a number of CJ’s slides from his layout in Shadyside (Pittsburgh) and show one below. His photographic skills, in my opinion, are on a par with his modeling ability.

The structure at left is the Pocahontas Coal dealer featured in the book’s frontispiece.
     The book happens to be dedicated to the Iron City Ferroequinological Society (ICFS) and its three members in addition to Riley: Larry Kline and me, and, joining the original three, Jim Ruffing. I have written about ICFS in several prior posts, and if you're interested,you might like to read some general comments (at this link: ). Also relevant might perhaps be my tribute to Larry Kline after he passed away in 2014 (that post is here: ).
     It’s been a long wait for this book, but all the more welcome for all that. I congratulate CJ on this fine accomplishment, and am happy that a much wider audience can now discover and absorb his many insights into realistic layout design, building, and completion.
Tony Thompson

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