Note a few things: I use pretty standard techniques for building my scenery base - cardboard strip lattice, hot-glued to the plywood subroadbed and the fascia, covered with a layer of plaster cloth. I think this method makes it a lot easier to have scenery below the tracks/roadbed and it also creates natural, random undulations in the terrain without having to scrape at foam making lots of static dust. Or worse - have to cut away plywood.
For areas which you want to be pretty flat, you can use plywood, foamboard or - as I did above for the Fernwood Street scene - a piece of foamcore. Note also that I've covered the track with blue painter's tape (sticky enough, but not difficult to remove without residue).
Now, I don't know if you can tell in the photos above (click on them for a larger view), but the plaster cloth/foamcore scenery base if a fair amount lower than the track and the top of the fascia. I did that on purpose since I figured it'd be easier to build up the terrain rather than have to cut it down later.
But I think that may have been a mistake . . .
On top of the scenery base, I use a variation of the "Ground Goop" that Lou Sassi popularized in his scenery books. My formula consists of:
- 1 part Celluclay or Sculptamold
- 1/2 part brown (dirt color) latex paint
- 1/3 part white glue
You mix this all together with a little water to make a "batter" that you trowel and spread on the scenery base. If you want to make the surface smoother after you apply it, use a little water brushed/smoothed over the top. You can add base scenery materials while it's wet - including ground foam, static grass, trees, and even structures pressed-in - but here it's evening out the scenery base and saving having to paint the scenery base a dirt color.
The plan was to fill-in on top of the scenery base and bring the ground level up to where I wanted it. In this case, just below the level of the track. Lou typically uses about 1/8" thick layer on top of his base. Let's just say, I used quite a bit more . . .
Here's the scene all "gooped" in from Jordan Lane (white in the distance, just short of the painter's tape) south to the Wethersfield station site. Compare this photo to the first photo above. The good news is that I was able to level the terrain up nicely.
The bad news is that I used Two Full Batches of ground goop to do it! (Bill will tell you that's "two cookie bins of goop" - or about a full gallon!)
Or, to put it in another perspective - the goop layer on top of the foamcore in the Fernwood Street area above is about 1" thick. 8 times what Lou uses!
At least I won't have to worry about the scenery being too thin to hold trees. But I may have to worry about the foamcore and plastercloth holding almost 5 pounds of ground goop.
If one of the many things this hobby is about is learning from one's mistakes, I think I'll take this little project as a learning experience. Time will tell if it actually turns out to be a mistake (it's been 3 days and it's still not thoroughly dried...), but I think I'll build future base scenery support closer to the final level I have planned for the scene.
I hope y'all with more experience will weigh in with what you do - and whether you have any tips, suggestions, or thoughts about what I've done here so far.