Background City Structures Pack Deal
These designs are only available HERE at our internet model train store. An ideal backdrop for your trains.
Downloaded Paper Models of HO Scale Structure Kits, and N scale Building Kits and Help Alleviate a Shortage Of Space On Industrial Switching Shelf Layouts
Are low relief scale model building kits the solution?
By Guest Contributor: Tony Neilson
If you are planning to design an industrial switching shelf layout you might be thinking about the pros and cons of including industrial and warehouse paper model buildings against the backdrop. The big consideration is how thick they will be and how much space they will take up. Backdrop HO scale structure kits are space efficient when compared to model buildings made as 3D, but not as economical in space as the downloaded paper plans used for smaller sized N scale Building Kits which can also be downloaded and printed ready for construction and placement against backgrounds.
Obviously the depth of thickness of 3D scale model building kits could be prohibitive depending on the width of the shelf. You won’t want to fill the space up with large structures such as a big engine shed and have no space left for the track. 3D kits of model railroad buildings can look very effective in the right location as long as they don’t take up too much space and restrict model train operations. N scale building kits are not as big as HO scale structure kits. Paper plans for downloaded model kits are definitely a lot less expensive than plastic kits, and look very life like.
If you plan to do plenty of yard work, then rail sidings will need to be a priority. If you have ample space, then you’ll have room for scenery and 3D scale model building kits to be more of a feature. It comes down to individual preference and the extent of the space you have allocated for the model trains, track and scenery on your scale layout.
3D scale model building kits can look impressive, but do take up quite a lot of space, and depending on where the backdrop is located, the structures could somewhat obscure the view of the low relief HO scale structure kits you have positioned against the backdrop – N scale model building kits if you a modeling in N scale.
SOLUTION: Positioning low relief industrial buildings against the backdrop could free up quite a lot of space on the layout for more switching track, an overpass, or possibly even a wharf or port. The tracks could even run closer to the front edge and allow room for more operations, possibly a big industry, an engine shed, or even a turntable. Downloaded scale model building kits in HO scale or N scale that are printed and constructed in low relief can maximize use of the available layout space.
Flats are an option when using paper plans downloaded as N scale model building kits or HO scale structure kits.
The low relief buildings could be constructed to show just the frontage (flats). This option would take the least amount of space and will look effective when viewed front on. By just gluing the frontages from downloaded scale model building kits onto some foam board or corflute, you could create an illusion of 3D and save an inch or two in depth. The saved inch could allow more space for other features elsewhere on the model railroad layout. However, be aware that by making the HO scale structure flats, the aerial and side views may look less effective if it looks like the structures have little or no depth. That is not to say the backdrop scenery will be unconvincing. Far from it, a lot will depend on the other elements that complete the total scene. Scale model building kits when downloaded can look exceptionally convincing as flats, in low relief, and as 3D structures.
The illusion of 3D using downloaded paper plans of scale model building kits.
The other option is to construct the kits to show the frontage and part of the roof and two sides. The model railroading term for these scale model kits is “low relief” buildings. This construction method will look more effective when viewed from above or from an angle. The scale model building kits in low relief won’t take up much room and need only be an inch or two thick depending on the scale you are working with. As I mentioned N scale model building kits with require less space than HO scale structure kits of the same downloaded paper buildings. Space permitting, you can stagger the structure kits so they stand out different distances from the backdrop. This will add to the 3D illusion against the model railroad backdrop.
What I’m saying is; it’s mostly the “chopper” or side view that ruins the effect of background buildings. When you get down to the front view track level even the flattest building flats will look much better against the backdrop.
Although you might not see the above scenario so often in real life, it does provide a bit of a compromise. It involves positioning the track closer to the backdrop to provide more space and more depth to the structure. A combination of flats, low relief and 3D scale model building kits could be used to add dimension and variation to the depth of structures. Downloading the paper models is economical in terms of price and space usage, and they are viewed as credible realistic appearing replicas of life-sized structures.
Viewing positions can alter the perspective of trains and scale model building kits.
Positioning your railroad shelf layout higher from the floor can be a good compromise between viewing angle and reach. Although you might prefer your switching layout at eye level, having it lower will help with extended reach to the back of the 24-inch shelf. If it is too high you might need a portable step stool to use when uncoupling cars at the rear of the layout. Another option is to sit on a bar stool with castors. With a model railroad shelf layout it is generally better to be looking straight at the scale model building kits rather than down on them. Adding a mirror at one end can give the illusion of the shelf layout extending in the distance.
The benefits of a forced perspective on model railroads.
By using a forced perspective, the objects positioned in the foreground tend to increase in size and stature because there is the illusion of distance in relation to those in the background. A forced perspective can help certain railroad layout features to really stand out. The background can help create a more life like overall view of the era and time you are representing.
So it is important to carefully consider the size and perspective of all objects and your HO scale structure kits. Some model railroaders actually use N scale building kits in the background on HO scale railroads. This can make the scale model building kits appear as though they are miles away in the distance as opposed to a much closer view achieved when using HO scale structure kits against the backdrop. It comes down to what you think would look best on your railroad layout, how far away in the distance you want your background structures to appear to be, and how much space your railroad has available for foreground buildings, track, trains, other scenery and structures. The beauty of download paper models made from corflute is that you can experiment by varying the size of each structure printed on your home printer. The the size of the printed HO scale structure kits looks too small, you can just reprint the structures to a smaller scale by adjusting the printer settings. So HO scale structure kits could be printed out as N scale building kits. You may need to reduce the size to give the illusion of distance as follows:
For scale model buildings and structures that are seen up close or in the foreground they need to be viewed at 100%. If they are 100 to 500 yards away then they can be reduced to 90% – 100% of the size to give some illusion of distance. If the downloaded HO scale structure kits are supposed to be ¼ to ½ mile away then they could be reduced to around 80% – 90% of the full size. Scale model buildings that supposedly a mile or more away could be 30% to 50% of the full size. Obviously the size scaling is a guide only. So as an example; if your N scale building kits were to be 5 inches tall close-up, the downloaded paper model kit would need to be 4 inches to 4½ tall if it is positioned ¼ to ½ mile away. Details in scale model buildings that are further away also need to be smaller in size e.g. windows, doors etc. Objects in the foreground and in the background need to work together so as to provide the most impact for visitors at the same time creating a very realistic model railroad scene.
Painting a background sky and clouds behind downloaded scale model building kits
Even the sky you see in the background can have a big influence on the realism of the railroad scene you are modeling. The position of the sun can influence how you paint the background or position objects and HO scale structure kits in the foreground. Clouds that are nearer the sun need to be lighter in color or more transparent that those clouds that are further away from the sun. Attention to details like this can make a big difference to the overall effect. No two clouds should be the same.
The clouds and sky can alter the mood of the scene too. They can give the impression it is early morning, late afternoon, or even dusk. It could look like a sunny day, or like it is about to rain or even snow.
If you are painting the sky and clouds, be aware the overhead sky is generally darker and lighter towards the horizon. Use two tints or shades of blue paint and blend them where they join to make a third shade of blue.
Search Google images for some photos of real clouds to use as a guide.
Techniques for painting sky and clouds
You can make stencils out of cardboard and use them for painting clouds, but remember they all need to look different. Start with the small clouds near the horizon. When you come to spray on more clouds above, you’ll probably find a light misty spray falls on the lower clouds giving a misty atmospheric haze.
Change the stencil often and hold it ½ inch or so from the sky when spraying the paint. Repositioning the stencil and gradually adding layers can give a 3D illusion. They can also be over layed to give shape and size variations. Spray the paint sparingly and decrease the cloud size from top to bottom on the backdrop. Don’t spray too near the edges as you don’t want a sharp outline. A soft fuzzy look is best.
Storm clouds can be painted by spray with gray paint first, before over-spraying them with white paint to provide the desired density.
If you are using HO scale structure kits (downloadable paper plans) or a download of N scale building kits, then being able to scale the images to the size you need is a huge benefit as structures can easily be reduced 10%, 20%, or to whatever scale depending on how far away in the distance you want then to be. Scale model building kits of paper models that get download provide the railroader with flexibility that would have previously been possible.