Author Topic: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics  (Read 3597 times)

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wm3798

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Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« on: May 20, 2008, 08:56:10 AM »
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I hadn't seen a week 5 entry yet, so I thought I'd take a stab at it...

We've all read about some of the cardinal rules of model railroad design, things like providing for transition curves, maintaining steady grades, and providing an adequate yard lead.  These certainly improve the operating aspect of our miniature transportation systems, as well as bolster the realism we hope to achieve.

But what about how the layout looks?  What are some of your fundamental approaches to aesthetics that you feel contribute to creating a realistic scene?  I'm looking for things like how your scenery relates to your track plan, placement of structures and other scenic elements, and even what you do to create an environment for the layout itself.

I'm going to get a coffee now... Discuss!  As always, you're welcome to support your theories with photographic evidence...

Lee
« Last Edit: May 20, 2008, 08:57:53 AM by wm3798 »
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Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2008, 09:18:42 AM »
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I think this is something that often gets overlooked.

Personally, I believe less is definitely more.

If you look at the real world, things are cluttered, but not too cluttered. There has to be adequate space around businesses, road access to them, etc... Otherwise, no matter how well executed, it'll always look like a model train layout instead of reality.

There are a lot of issues around the practicality of this, but I feel that it's one of the things that really set a layout apart.

wm3798

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2008, 10:54:51 AM »
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What got me thinking about this was a comment on the A-board by Spookshow about my penchant against straight lines and right angles.  In particular, tracks, roads and other scenic elements that run parallel to the edge of the layout.

Outside of certain scenes where it's absolutely unavoidable, I try to avoid that.  And when it has to be there,  I try to do use other elements to trick the eye into believing otherwise, such as this scene at North Junction:


The raw track plan has the WM main running razor straight through the middle of the shelf.  The other track that curves around and crosses at the diamond represents the PRR Cumberland Valley line, which on the layout is an interchange point.

In this case the straight line is modified by several things.
First, There's a grade coming up out of the staging yard, so in an eye level view, you get a some "movement" of the train vertically...


Next, the PRR line meanders through the scene from left to right, culminating in the double diamonds:

This breaks the plane between the main line track and the front edge of the shelf.

Finally, the scene includes a highway overpass, which is set at a slight angle as it crosses the railroad, and also tapers from front to back to give the illusion of more distance as it meets the 3-D background elements, (which are still a work in progress)


I've also tried to place several of the structures at different angles in relation to the track further break up the parallel nature of the scene.

Lee
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3rdrail

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2008, 12:10:26 PM »
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In a way, discussing layout aesthetics is like playing ball with a live grenade. Someone's feelings are going to get hurt.

That said, one thing that bothers me are bright colors. Even the brightest display of fall colors is far duller than most so-called "Fall" trees available. Sure, there are spots of brilliant color, but on maybe 10 percent of a leaf. Most structures have been painted in what are now called "earthtone colors" for a century now, except in certain ethnic neighborhoods, and even that is almost a thing of the past. In addition, colors become duller with distance, and most N scale layouts are being viewed from several hundred scale feet away.

As to space, it is a luxury many do not have. I thought I had a huge area to work with on my layout upstairs, but am finding that scale sized industries take up a lot of space. Motisa Machine Works will take up a space almost half the size of my portable layout (There's a power plant not built yet, plus a water tower.), and my grocery warehouse won't fit where I envisioned it as it's over two feet long.

shark_jj

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2008, 04:04:12 PM »
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Lee, thanks for starting this thread.  I was involved in running a model railroad convention and show all weekend and came home to find my desktop computer had crashed.  Still trying to get it fixed and am working from my laptop at the moment without access to a lot of my usual stuff.  Good subject selection.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2008, 04:16:57 PM »
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If we're talking about lines here, then I definitely have something to say.

On the kidney at home, I've made it a kidney for just that reason. The one side has a definitely "wind" to it, and I think it's really made watching things on it much more visually interesting.

One of the other things to keep in mind is that the prototype has a large amount to do with the way a layout is laid out. Obviously something in the big flat states will be much more linear than in the Rockies or the Appalachians.

On top of that, you also have the different railroad's styles. Different lines had different budgets when it came to engineering. The MA&PA, for example, had a twisty right of way, while the PRR simply leveled mountains when it needed to.

chuck geiger

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2008, 03:11:38 PM »
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Ed is right, LESS IS MORE. I have on my new layout a 6' section of just single track with a siding for a packing industry and it looks great. I fought the temptation to have spur and siding after spur and siding and it looks more life-like. The Sanger and Fresno area are about complete. Working on the scenery on the LDE process is so much better than buying packs of products and shaking them on white glue. Working off the pictures of the area and modeling only what you actually see is much more productive for me than model railroading. Thanks Railwire, FOR TEACHING ME HOW TO DRINK AND WORK ON THE LAYOUT.

« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 08:56:47 PM by chuck geiger »
Chuck Geiger
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wm3798

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2008, 04:45:01 PM »
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NOT Drink?  Man, you're doing it wrong!
Foster Brooks
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asciibaron

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2008, 04:46:47 PM »
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Thanks Railwire, everyone here taught me not to drink and work on the layout.

who is the assclown that told you that - there is no rule g in my basement....

-Steve
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Lucas in Alaska

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2008, 04:54:45 PM »
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Chuck,

 Thanks for the track plan. What are your room dimensions?

Lucas

TiVoPrince

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2008, 07:07:12 PM »
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Red box
was drawn as a square foot in Chucks plan as a scale marker.  Thats what I recall anyway, that is unless I started drinking away my memory early tonight...
Support fine modeling

davefoxx

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2008, 07:24:39 PM »
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Forum,

You all have raised some good points so far.  On my hollow-core door layout, I am limited to running the mainline parallel to the layout edge to maximize the run.  However, I have tried to disguise this by minimizing how much of a scene that one can see at a time.  I use trees on my layout to help not only screen the backside or staging area, but also break up the amount of the length of the layout that can be really viewed at one time.  My roads do not run necessarily straight or parallel to the tracks or the edge of the layout.  I also tried to place most of my sidings and buildings at angles to reduce the linear look of my layout.  Once the scenes are broken up, the straight-as-an-arrow mainline does not really bother me so much, because, let's face it, the prototype tried to build the line in as straight a line as possible.

Since I mentioned roads, the one thing that I have tried to avoid is the severe curves and grades that are often seen on model railroads.  Even though automobiles can traverse stiffer grades and sharper curves than a railroad, roads are constructed to minimize these features for safety reasons.  In a recent magazine, one model layout had a road that must have had an incline of something between thirty and forty degrees!  Would you trust your brakes and tires on that kind of grade?  Not me.  I think model roads look much more realistic if built with broad curves and gentle grades.

Lastly, I think that layouts should be built with little or no flat areas.  On my layout, with the exception of the tracks, road, and town area, I have tried to add variation to the elevation.  If I were to rebuild the road on my layout, I would add some gentle swales to breakup the flatness there.  As the town is still unfinished, I am still adding small ditches and rolling landscaping around the buildings to add interest to the scene.  As we all know, the world is not flat . . . not even in the Midwest.

Dave Foxx
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« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 08:56:45 PM by davefoxx »

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Erik W

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2008, 07:42:37 PM »
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What are some of your fundamental approaches to aesthetics that you feel contribute to creating a realistic scene?  I'm looking for things like how your scenery relates to your track plan, placement of structures and other scenic elements

I made a real effort when roughing in the scenery to make it look like the track had to conform to the lay of the land (as in the real world) rather than the other way around.  I think it turned out well.






and even what you do to create an environment for the layout itself.

Before I picked up the hammer to start the benchwork, I knew that I wanted this layout to have a nice finshed look about it.  So, a backdrop, fascia and a skirt were essential.



Erik

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chuck geiger

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2008, 08:47:39 PM »
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I got so hammered at a local club concert Monday night, I looked at the layout on Tuesday and almost hurled. Dave brings up another great point, elevation changes are essential to aesthetics. Sidings or spurs coming off the main and dropping below mainline track elevation.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2008, 08:50:48 PM by chuck geiger »
Chuck Geiger
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chuck geiger

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic: Week 5 - Layout Aesthetics
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2008, 08:55:27 PM »
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Chuck,

 Thanks for the track plan. What are your room dimensions?

Lucas

Tivo is right, he did the plan, it's like 10x10. Real small I live in a new mobile home. My spare room
is pretty small. This is how one affords to buy a house in California.
Chuck Geiger
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