Author Topic: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops  (Read 3642 times)

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mightypurdue22

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Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« on: March 08, 2013, 04:36:20 PM »
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Curious as to others take on this...

I'm perhaps in a unique position, as I work for a graphics company that allows me to print massive sized prints.  I'm also able laminate my backdrop prints with a matte finish.  All for a great price, free!  I've found a couple of large, panoramic images that may work nicely for my layout.  I'm also Photoshop savvy.  So printing backdrop images is a good option for me.

On the other hand, I have just enough artist ability to paint a backdrop as well.  Painting will take more time, but gives me the freedom to adjust the backdrop as necessary to blend real model items with the backdrop.

For those that have tried one option or the other, what are the pros and cons of each?  And having done it, which way would you go now with today's technology?

Thanks,
Dave

JMaurer1

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2013, 04:59:32 PM »
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Personally, I think that you should send a printed backdrop and a painted backdrop to me so I can make a much better informed decision  :D

I actually like the painted ones better but if I could get a free photo backdrop I probably would take one (or two or three). Save the time to do more modelling.
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mmagliaro

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2013, 05:14:48 PM »
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I am no pro at scenery.
I am no artist when it comes to painting backdrops.  I can manage gradiated blue shading and some clouds, and that's
about it.

If you're still reading after that... ha ha...

I personally have never liked photographic backdrops, no matter how well scaled, no matter how era-appropriate.
The reason is that real-life photos, to me, always possess a quality that somehow makes them stand out like sore thumbs
compared to the  layout in front of them.  Even if the layout is magnificent, I always see an
element of it looking like a "cartoon" in front of a real life scene.   This is not to knock anyone's wonderful scenery.
But you asked for opinions, so this is mine.    The photo is jarring and calls attention to itself, perhaps because it IS so realistic.   

So if you are good at painting backdrops, that's the way I'd go.

Dave Schneider

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2013, 05:21:13 PM »
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I agree with Max on this. My plan is to take photographs of modeled scenes/streets/distant buildings and use them to create the printed backdrop.

Best wishes, Dave
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rsn48

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2013, 06:24:10 PM »
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I'm the reverse of those opposed to photographic backdrops.  Most painted backdrops to me look amateurish taking away from often very good layouts.  Most of us aren't that artistic and painting something very well is a skill that takes a long time to acquire, consequently many backdrops look less than optimal.

I'm not flogging backdrop warehouse, but this link takes you to layouts that show various stages of building the layouts and incorporating the photo backdrops into the layout; I think most will find the results very compelling.

I personally didn't use backdrop warehouse products, it was in its infancy when I started my layout but I wanted something in early that would work, I'm happy with what the backdrops I did acquire accomplished.

I think that if you can incorporate photos you have of the areas you are modelling, the overall feel of the layout will be enhanced.  However both photo and painted backdrops are superior to layouts that are decades old and the background has never been completed.

Layout construction incorporating photos:

http://myrrlayout.com/R/Aspfiles/new.asp

My layout with one area with photo:




Hind sight is always better than foresight, except for lost opportunity costs.

rogergperkins

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2013, 06:31:05 PM »
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I have seen photos used on TT modules that were primarily clouds and sky.  It worked.
I created a back drop is only 2 inches high and about 3 feet long for an end cap of a peninsula on my layout.
Initially I just added a strip of bass wood to prevent locomotive from going off the layout to the floor.
I took the same photo and printed in 8.5 x 11 two times; I edited a copy to mirror image and printed it.
This gave me approximately 33 inches of prairie sky which I fixed to the bass wood end cap.

I now wish based on this experiment that I had use a wider piece of bass wood, but I am pleased with the results.
I have hand painted backdrop on foam core that are simply sky; these extend along the shelf section of my layout.

Either way can add a nice dimension, but I think one should avoid structures, just photograph distance trees and sky.

PS: Make certain you get the correct season to match what you model.  ;)
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 06:34:53 PM by rogergperkins »

TiVoPrince

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2013, 08:07:38 PM »
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Ideally
you can photograph the actual locale and season.  The panorama feature of modern smart phones would be a great help if I were doing it again.  Take a lot more photos than you think you need.  I stopped every hundred yards along California1 and tried to shoot square on to the hills without cars and trucks in the way.  I did OK on most of my overlaps but it would hae gone better if I had someone drive wile I photographed.

I had the opportunity to just that and created 18 feet of California coast between Gaviota and Santa Barbara.  Stitched more than a dozen photos together and a friend at a trade show company printed them for me.  Although I did not have a matte finish option at the time I still like them.  Those backdrops have survived from those original HO modules and have since been repurposed for my current N layout.  It does not really represent the 'right' scenery but they are too good to leave them inactive in the garage...
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Freight Train

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2013, 08:08:42 PM »
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I'm not that great at painting back drops so I prefer printed ones. I've been using ones made by BackDrop Junction. You can use the ones on site as is or manipulate them into a more workable one that fits your needs. He can combine prints and add and take things out as needed. Part of my layout required Lake Michigan as the back drop with just sky and water.  Dave, the owner of the business had a friend that lived in the Chicago area. When the weather was just right went out and took some photos to make my back drop with.  I ordered my with the adhesive backing so I could peel & stick. But you can order the back drops without the adhesive and apply them the way you want too. I also need a water tower in Hammond Indiana and had my friend Joanna who lived in the area to take a picture of it. I sent it to Dave who scaled it and made a print from it. I went and mounted to black foarm board & cut it out. I replace the cable struts with pieces of wire between the legs and painted them blue to match the structure. Here it's just laying next to one of the back drops I got from Backdrop Junction....Wanted to try something different
                       http://www.backdropjunction.com
                       http://xa.yimg.com/kq/groups/6319/sn/1596623877/name/T12.jpg
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Cajonpassfan

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2013, 12:27:12 AM »
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Dave, from the way you ask the question, it's obvious you understand he dilemma...the layout is a three dimensional painting done in a unique style of each modeler; some good, some awesome, some not so good, but each with a personal and unique take on colors, textures, and detail....Slapping a photo realistic backdrop behind such 3d scenery creates an immediate conflict in contrast and color, IMHO. So what's a modeler to do?

If your backdrop is simple and nondescript, a little paint goes a long way. If it is dramatic, or location specific like mine, you better have the artistic skills of a Mike Danneman. I don't. So I found an alternative: heavily photoshopped photos of specific locations. I use "paintshop elements" with dry brush filters to take out detail, and to fuzzy up a photo to make it look more like a painting consistent with my 3d modeling style. I don't have a photo hosting site, but I you pm me your email address, I'll send you samples if you'd like.
Regards, Otto

Alaska Railroader

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2013, 01:16:01 AM »
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I have used photos as backdrops for photographing dioramas and it works fine but I can see what you mean. A painted backdrop would compliment the artistic license we often have to take on our layouts. Sounds like you have some talent both with Photoshop and actual painting so I have an idea. Its worth the price too, zip  ;)

I just picked a photo I had and experimented with PhotoPaint. The top is the cropped photo, the bottom is converted to "look" more like a painting than a photo. If you didn't like that effect wouldn't it help to take the second photo and actually paint over it using it as your guide (similsr to a paint by number  :facepalm: )

Sure wish I was a painter, I'd be OK at it if all I had to do was dip it into a 5 gallon bucket!


wm3798

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2013, 11:25:08 AM »
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I always preferred a simple sky back drop.  When necessary, a little paint and some 3-D flats help.


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ednadolski

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2013, 11:48:47 AM »
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I use "paintshop elements" with dry brush filters to take out detail, and to fuzzy up a photo to make it look more like a painting consistent with my 3d modeling style.


I tried something like this a while back, the trick is that there are a lot of knobs that can be changed.  Do you have any more details on the filters that you use?  Or how to improve the match between the colors in the photo with the model colors?

I've also seen canvas photo prints where the image was filtered to look more like it was painted with a brush.  Does anyone have more info about how this is done?

Thanks,
Ed

MichaelWinicki

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2013, 11:51:37 AM »
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Photograph.

Definitely photograph.

While some photo backdrops look more like a piñata in color choice, if done with a little care, meaning a flat-finish and the colors muted a little, they won't take away from what's in front of them.

A painted backdrop looks... well painted, with rare exceptions.

With all the emphasis on realistic rolling stock and track and buildings and landscape, why not have the backdrop look as realistic as possible?

DKS

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2013, 12:19:21 PM »
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With all the emphasis on realistic rolling stock and track and buildings and landscape, why not have the backdrop look as realistic as possible?

Because (and this is purely personal preference), a photographic backdrop will be more realistic than the modeling, and can thus detract from your models. IMO, a well-done painted backdrop will blend into a well-modeled scene much better, and not detract from/contrast with it.
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w neal

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Re: Painted vs. Printed Backdrops
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2013, 12:34:17 PM »
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I'm not so sure its a matter of one versus the other. It seems to me that the trick/skill may be in how well you can BLEND the forground with the background, what ever form it is. See: The work of Danneman - for hints. What detracts, to my eye, is the contrast between the two.

I'm playing with elements of each on my layout. (You can view the awful results in the Layout Engineering Reports section.) I do not have access to a large printer and have "miles and miles" of sky. There fore, I was trying to seek a marriage of the two worlds. Oh well, I tried.

In your case, I would try printed backdrops with elements from the actual location you are modelling. Maybe, being in your position, you can control the inks/shades to better match the foreground cover where the sky and ground elements actually meet.
« Last Edit: March 09, 2013, 12:38:26 PM by w neal »
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