Author Topic: Painting backdrop skies?  (Read 2216 times)

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ednadolski

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Painting backdrop skies?
« on: February 01, 2010, 02:06:41 AM »
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Anyone have any thoughts on how to paint a convincing backdrop sky?   What I'm really wondering is how to paint a smooth & convincing 'transition' from a deeper/darker blue near to top to a whiter/lighter blue at the horizon.

The trick is doing this in latex paints, but here in Colorado the paints dry out so fast that it's very hard to work wet-on-wet. I've looked thru the books, mags, & DVDs that I have but haven't come up with much (even Mike Danneman in one case referred to such blending attempts as "an exercise in frustration".)  I've seen a few other ideas like trying to blend the colors on the roller, but I don't think I can do that with consistency.   Spray painting or airbrushing wouldn't be feasible for me either.   (I'd consider a photo print, except that's likely to be too expensive.)

I'm not sure I can paint feasible clouds, but for now I'm just interested in the blue sky.   Anyways here are a few pics that give an idea of what I am trying for.





Any/all ideas, advice, admonitions, etc are most welcome.


Philip H

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2010, 07:28:44 AM »
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Move to Tehachapi andf build you railroad in front of a picture window.
Philip H.
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Baton Rouge Southern RR - Mount Rainier Division.

"Yes there are somethings that are "off;" but hey, so what." ~ Wyatt

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GaryHinshaw

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 08:04:20 AM »
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You're imposing some pretty tight constraints there Ed... But have you tried an acrylic retarder?  These are supposed to prolong drying time and might give you enough time to work a blend.  I haven't tried them myself, but I've seen them in most home stores.  I've also read that regular glycerin can be used (and may be what commercial retarders are - and IIRC, the same stuff Linn Wescott used to preserve lichen back in the day).

Just a thought,
Gary

P.S. Nice pics.  :)

DKS

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 08:35:56 AM »
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I've had pretty decent luck by having two paint trays with small amounts of paint, one with the darker color and one with the lighter color, and blending them at once on the wall with one roller in each hand. After a while the paints in the trays would start to get "polluted" with each other's colors from the rollers, which is why I used small amounts of paint at a time. It takes some practice to get the technique down, because you have to work fairly quickly. Afterward, I disguised any imperfections with clouds.

Sokramiketes

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 08:56:20 AM »
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Pelle used oil paints in order to have the long working time.  Think there was an article in MR in the last couple years.
Mike

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DKS

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 09:00:10 AM »
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Another thought, something I never tried, but might be worth a shot... rent a sprayer.

Pomperaugrr

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 12:48:33 PM »
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I had good luck painting the sky a uniform blue, then faded the bottom by misting on white paint using home made cloud stencils.  Then I misted over each layer of hills to help fade them into the distance.  I used the ham fisted approach of misting with white Krylon primer.  I would recommend an airbrush though, if you have one.  I just picked up a triple action Iwata this weekend, but it was too late for the backdrop painting. Here's an example before I changed to better 500K flourescents:



Eric
« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 01:20:25 PM by Pomperaugrr »

ednadolski

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2010, 04:27:13 PM »
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Thanks everyone for the ideas.  One other idea that came to mind: paint the backdrop the lightest color, and then apply successive layers of darker color with some kind of transparent glazing medium, working up from bottom to top.  Has anyone tried anything like that?  I'm not sure how well that might work, or how much medium it would need.

I'm planning to get a few scrap sheets of Masonite and try out a few of these ideas.  The picture window at Tehachapi would be awesome but I don't think I could sell the idea to my wife  ;).

Ed

bsoplinger

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2010, 08:45:46 PM »
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Another thing to be careful of it going with way too dark of a blue. The sky really isn't very blue in most places but more of a grey with blue vs red tint.

chuck geiger

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2010, 10:21:35 PM »
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I have had success using stencils from NEW LONDON INDUSTRIES. www.newlondonindustries.com








« Last Edit: February 01, 2010, 10:36:39 PM by chuck geiger »
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ednadolski

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #10 on: July 25, 2015, 06:19:35 PM »
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(Revisiting an old thread  :ashat:)

I've decided to have a go at this and see where I would end up.  This is a sample painting on a 24x48 sheet of masonite.  I mixed up two custom blue colors for the sky, a 'horizon' and  a 'zenith'.   I first covered the whole sheet with the horizon color.  I then painted in the sky with a 1" brush by starting at the horizon line, and adding progressively larger amounts of zenith color as I kept going upwards.  Finally, at the top, I got to 100% zenith color.  For clouds, I used the horizon color and brushed it on, in some cases using light, sweeping strokes, and in other cases using rolling, scrubbing stroke to get more of a 'puffy' look.   I also mixed in some straight Titanium White for denser/closer parts of the clouds. (It is possible to overdo this).

For the hills I used a Hobby Lobby craft paint in a green that was close to the color that I wanted.  I also mixed in some raw umber for the shadow areas and parchment white for the highlights.  To get a more distant color I mixed in the horizon sky color with the green shade.  I started on the most distant hills and worked my way 'forward'.  For the trees, I dabbed on another color of a darker green.

Here are a couple of quick pics:












I'm happy with with the look of the sky, and OK with the way the hills came out.  I would have liked to get a bit more depth -- probably should use a higher contrast and more directional lighting.   I'm not too thrilled with the trees, they look rather like flat blobs to me (which is exactly what they are, except for that one line where you can see where I let the paint build up too much.)  I have to work on getting a more 'airy' look, tho that may be easier with artists acrylics which have more body than the craft paints.

Keep on learning... ;)

Ed


« Last Edit: July 25, 2015, 06:21:21 PM by ednadolski »

Scottl

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #11 on: July 25, 2015, 06:39:32 PM »
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Ed, it looks very good.

I have had success painting the transition with an air brush and a light application of white over the blue.  It is easy to blend the blue into the horizon.

When I painted my backdrop trees, I found that having blobs of additional colors like umber, yellow and black allowed me to mix my greens in a bit of a random variation and get many tones that added depth. 

jimmo

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2015, 07:49:37 PM »
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Some of those cloud effects look great... from straight on. But if you move your view to an angle (like a lot of your train photos are going to be) the effect is compromised. I have seen very few model scenes that don't scream "picture on the wall" because of the angle distortion. My solution is just leave them out and if I really need them, Photoshop them in later.
James R. Will

Santa Fe Guy

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2015, 08:45:20 PM »
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Great job Ed. I think you you have done very well for a first go. Try adding a very small dab of black to your tree colour and just put a bit of that darker green under the trees that are down lower on your back drop. That will make them pop. But make sure you do them all on the same side away from the sun.  Try the dry brush method with an old brush to just dab some so they do not look too uniform.
For my transition on the SFRSD I airbrushed some Liquidtex white along the lower third after the blue was done. When I did my clouds I used the stencils and a spray can of flat white held off the wall so the edges where soft. Love the weathered loco and hopper too.
Rod.
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MichaelWinicki

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Re: Painting backdrop skies?
« Reply #14 on: July 25, 2015, 08:51:02 PM »
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Ed, I pretty much echo what you posted...

That's on of the best "sky" paint jobs I've seen! Well done!

The hills and trees aren't nearly as sharp.