I visited a friend’s layout a couple of days ago and we started talking about his plans for a loads in/empties out facility on a coal line. As he was telling me about his plans he said “I wouldn’t mind a backdrop with a power station showing in the distance”. When I got home I got thinking about what he’d said and thought “I can do that”. So I cranked up Photoshop and did some searches on Google Images for power plant cooling towers. After about 15 minutes work I sent him the resultant image and he replied he wouldn’t mind a smoke stack. After thinking “fussy bugger” 🙂 I went back online and did another search for power station smoke stacks with the tools setting set at large images.
Once I’d sent him the result he said “what next?” and I replied, print them out on paper and pin them on his backdrop for a week to help you decide if that’s what you want. We could talk about what other steps might need to be taken later.
I wouldn’t make any claims that this backdrop is of commercial quality but then that’s not what it’s meant to be. It’s meant to be an exercise in allowing my friend to see if he likes the idea of a photo backdrop in that spot to give his power plant/coal loader scene depth and character. What you can see here took literally less than half an hour to produce and as such I think it’s a good demonstration of getting what you want if nothing suitable is available commercially. Every element of this scene can be adjusted, from the lighting, intensity, the position and number of the smoke stacks/towers (the cooling towers are actually the same one I cut and pasted, changed the shadow and altered the mist to make it look different) and even the saturation of the colours so that the objects look further away.
We probably won’t use this image if he goes ahead and gets the backdrop printed commercially but I feel this more than adequately demonstrates how easy it is to add photo realistic scenes to you layout.