About two weeks ago I resolved that I would take some photos of my progress on the layout today. I wanted to set myself a target date to get as much done as possible before I took the photos. I photograph everything I do with my modelling: often this is with the intention of illustrating an article or this blog, but just as often it is to give me a camera’s eye view. I find you can sit and look at a scene you’ve modelled for an hour and still miss something glaring you see straight away in a photo. This is an inveterate habit with me and has become as much a part of my modelling as reading magazines and shopping for hobby products.

I’m happy enough with the progress I’ve made in the last two weeks but I’m not as far along as I’d like to have been. I wanted to be able to say the section of the layout I’m currently working on is finished to a level that would allow me to run a locomotive on it but sadly I’m not ready for this yet: possibly next weekend. I might get my little video camera out and shoot some footage of this momentous event but we’ll wait and see. I’m back at work tomorrow and things are going to get busy.

I’ve found myself doing some reverse gardening over the last couple of days as I prepared to get the layout ready to take the photos: I’ve been planting weeds and generally messing up the pristine landscape. After I get the basic landform the shape I want it I paint it a yellow colour with acrylic house paint and then lay down a basic covering of Woodland Scenics earth blend. This colour has become the default colour of the whole layout and is pretty much used to tie together every scene. I don’t just use it for grass cover: I sprinkle it on trees, over the top of the loading bank, blending weed clumps together and a half doz applications. I’ll be in real trouble if they ever stop making it!

After this basic ground cover is down and dry I then come back and detail and texture with a range of products that I’ve been collecting over the previous months. I’m glad to say that my days of ground foam and coloured saw dust are long gone as I’ve been using the great new products that have been coming onto the market over the last few years. I really like the textured grass “mats” and individual “tufts” that are now available as they allow a lot of control and produce great results. You can buy these from a lot of outlets (I have a link to Modellers Warehouse on the blog) but I would suggest that you try to take a look at the colours and textures in person if possible before buying as it can be a bit difficult to get an accurate idea of the colours and textures from photos on the web.

I start the texturing process by placing the trees I’m going to use first and also installing any fencing dry to allow me to move it later if I want to. I’ll then sit back and take a look at the way these are positioned. I find the siting of fences and trees is critical: if it doesn’t look right then move things about. I only use a minimum number of larger (and more expensive) trees and fill in the understory with cheap quickies from Busch and Scenic Express using their “fillers”. Once I’m happy with the “architectural” elements of trees and fences, I start from the back and work my way forward. I don’t install any buildings until the last minute and I can’t avoid it any longer. I don’t want these getting sprayed with water, bumped with stray elbows or squashed by having something heavy dropped on them.

Today I weeded up a long narrow strip of land between the weighbridge and the track. I installed a fence down the edge of the rail line and went to work. I tend to install the taller weeds and shrubs to the back (in this case on the track side of the fence) and gradually allow the shrubs and weeds to grow shorter the closer they get to the viewer. This is what landscape gardeners do: you see, you do learn something from watching Lifestyle programmes on TV 🙂 I’m still not finished yet: I didn’t have enough fence to install it all the way along the edge of the track and I’ve still got to weed and detail around the weighbridge hut and the dry creek bed. However things are sufficiently advanced to allow me to post some photos.

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