Monday, January 14, 2019

Modeling Monday - Scenery Setbacks

After a spurt of activity around the holidays & my birthday, the 2019 legislative session started last Wednesday so my modeling has hit the brake pedal pretty hard. I'm not stopped, but I'm certainly going a bit more slowly. And it doesn't help progress that I feel like for every few steps forward I have to take a couple steps back.

I've decided to put ops sessions - and other things in the hobby that I'm pretty good at - on the back burner in exchange for getting more scenery and structures done. The structures have gone pretty well - albeit slowly. The scenery . . . not so much. Case in point - the Valley Coal area.

Here's an overview panorama of the area before I started (yeah - it's looked like this for months, if not years):

And a closer-up view, with the grass starting to fill in to the left of the road:

After a a few fits and starts (and no small amount of coaching from Bill), I ended up with this:

The grass is 10mm static grass, with a few colors mixed together. The coal lot is Highball cinders.

I think I really should have sifted them more first. It all looks WAY too coarse and out of scale. Not bad for a quarry or open-pit mine, but not such a great look for pulverized coal in a parking lot. And I really don't like the "salt & pepper" look of the Highball cinders. Not sure why they mixed in such a contrasting stone, but it's doesn't look good at all to my eye.

So I moved to the east (aisle-side) of the tracks to do some more static grass.

And some more overview shots:

While I know I have to give myself some space and time to develop my scenery skill, it's still pretty frustrating. The grass is looking ok - though a bit sparse. I used only 10mm, so I'm considering filling in with more, shorter, static grass. Thoughts on that??

Also, I really think I'm going to scrape up and redo the coal lot area with some much finer - and a bit more uniform - cinders. If you have any suggested alternatives on how to salvage the area, I'd love to hear them :^)

All in all, I just have to remind myself that I'm breaking new ground here (no pun intended). I've gotten pretty good at benchwork, trackwork, and wiring and actually have come to enjoy it. But I suspect that's mostly because I have a LOT of practice doing benchwork/trackwork/wiring. Except for the Christmas layout that I did - start to finish - in about a month, I've never done much in the way of scenery. And it shows.

At least the area looks marginally better than it did. And I'm doing my best to learn from my mistakes so I can do better next time.


  1. Hi Chris, thanks for all your efforts to share your work with us. Maybe you should pave the grade crossing on the dirt road somehow (with planks?), even if it's temporary, as it draws the (railfan's) eye. Hope this suggestion is helpful. George

    1. Hi George - always great to hear from you! I do plan to finish the grade crossing at some point, but I figure it'll be one of the last steps in the scene. No hurry to get to it and I want to be sure to do it right. Thanks for the suggestion wrt the planks - that's exactly what I plan on doing!

  2. Chris, consider fine tile grout for your coal lot. You can get earth and black in smaller quart size containers. Mix the two together to kill some of the black intensity. Don't like the salt and pepper look... paint it. I've done this with natural stone in a stream bed to blend in better with scenery.
    Yes, add shorter static grass to get rid of the sparse look.

    Gordon Spalty

    1. Hi Gordon and thanks for weighing in! I actually checked out some grout per your suggestion & all I could find were big bags of it(!) but I'll keep looking - especially since that's such a great idea. Hadn't thought of mixing the colors together and am looking forward to trying that out. Good tips on the overpainting and shorter grass. I'll be sure and try that as well when I get back to this scene. Thanks again for leaving a comment - hope you're enjoying the blog!