Monday, April 30, 2018

On Backdrop Trees

Like any layout set in the northeastern United States, we can't seem to build enough trees during the construction phase.  No matter what else I am working on, the need for more trees is always in the background.  

In visiting some recent layouts I have decided to focus on the first impressions on the Onondaga Cutoff.  You have seen recently that I have put effort into getting scenery accomplished on the M&E near Euclid Yard.   I also have been inspired to finish at least basic scenery on the first thing visitors see:  The M&E track alongside the staircase, as visitors descend into the basement.  

This is a tricky spot, one of the most difficult to scenic due to the fieldstone foundation and irregular placement of the staircase.  It's never going to be a focus of the railroad but I feel that since it is the first thing we see as we enter the room, it is critical to have it appear finished.  Given the shallow overall scene, and the high likelihood that visitors may brush against the scene, I put some thought into how to construct this spot.  

I used simple corrugated cardboard, cut to fit, and painted forest green as a base.  This was stapled to the stringers behind.  

This is spot where I still like the 'old school' method of tree canopy:  the so-called puff ball tree.  While I have found that the 'SuperTree' kits (available from Scenic Express) are a superior and cost-effective way to create trees, they are fragile, and when only installed in one layer on a shallow backdrop, they appear thin.  My goal here is a thick canopy that can be durable to passing elbows!

Trees are made using spray adhesive and fine turf, as well as Noch leaves as seen above.  Several different shades of green trees, mounted using hot glue in a random pattern, really help to add to the illusion of a forest with different species of trees.  Several rock outcroppings were mounted ahead of the trees as you can see here.

The long-term goal will be to add a layer of SuperTrees over the top of the backdrop canopy, lending some definition and detail to the scene.

Spring is upon us here in New Jersey, and this greenery inside helps create a convincing effect and a great lead for visitors as they descend the staircase into the layout room!


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