Sunday, September 21, 2008

the structure, part 1

I'm going to begin this session by stating that this whole blog thing is by no means a how-to. I have gone into some descriptions of the techniques I use but they are not very comprehensive or complete. This is more a random rambling on my part about a hobby that I love and as such is merely a bunch of thoughts that I've tried to organize about my approach to modeling in 1/87 scale. I have no idea how many folks will be reading these rants nor does it matter to me. Suffice it to say that if you are reading this and have gleaned anything at all from it, I am gratified.

And on to the subject matter, that of structures. When I first began, I bought a few plastic kits and finished them just as they were intended by the manufacturer. They were from Design Preservation and Railway Design and actually are quite nice right from the box. Above you will notice a Railway Design Associates plastic structure that I have turned into a wharf side cannery. All I have done to it is paint and weather the kit. I imagine the dock workers mumbling obscenities under their breath at the rather assertive truck driver here. The Hydrocal loading dock came with it and the small coal bin I added.
On this same diorama, you'll find a boathouse that has been transformed over the years to hold all manner of junk. This is a scratch built board on board structure that I half lapped all the joints of the clear pine frame. I mill most of my own wood materials in my shop. My occupation as a woodworker has afforded me the tools to do so rather than have to buy my wood for modeling. The basic coloring of the wood for almost all of my scratch built structures is just a dark colored acrylic paint thinned and all painting is done after the structure is built. The sign and license plates hung here are decals on small pieces of brass sheeting. The Model T is from Jordan and the canoe is a resin piece from Sylvan Scale. I've been using 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper for tar paper roofing but my results have not been consistent and I will be trying something new in the future.

Another RDA plastic structure, this time altered greatly from it's original intention. This brick building was twice as long at first and was all brick. A slathering of thinned drywall compound was done and then it was chipped away in places to reveal the brickwork under. The loading dock here was built using cut linoleum for the foundation walls. The platform is poured plaster into a wooden mold with stiff steel wire to reinforce it. The expansion joints and cracks were carved into it when dry and it was colored with artists chalks dissolved in alcohol. The small set of steps are wood. The rusted standing seam roof is so easy. I use a thin brass sheet, only a bit heavier than a heavy aluminum foil. On the reverse (under) side. I scribe with the back of an exacto blade the ridge and the seams. Carefully folded to the roof pitch and glued, it is painted with an acrylic brown and rust color combined followed by a wash of raw umber. While still wet, I sprinkle some rust powder in critical areas and then follow that with a wash of burnt umber and yellow ochre. You will see several of this type of roof on my structures.

I again combined a scratch built structure with a plastic RDA one on this track side diorama with this small fuel tank cover. The construction is the same as the boat storage shed but I used a milk paint finish over the darkly stained wood this time. The effect given, after the paint has dried and been slightly buffed with steel wool is that of a faded, peeling paint. Hitting this all with some chalks in olive green and black give the discoloration to the bottom edge of the boards.

Something I'd always done was to use a computer drafting program to draw anything I wanted to build and print it out on a Manila card stock. I always print two copies, one to use as a mock up to position the structure on a diorama and the second for use as a template to cut whatever medium I have chosen to model it in. In 'Dyar's Garage' above, I more carefully assembled my mock up copy and then built a wooden frame inside for support bracing. I then covered the structure in a horizontal board siding made of the same Manila card stock, trimmed it out and added the windows to make an almost completely paper structure. This building actually exists in the western mountain area of Maine albeit only slightly different.

With the reasonable success of Dyar's I have since tried another paper building. The main portion of the barn above is built primarily the same with the exception being that I applied the siding in a clapboard configuration. The small shed portion on the right is wood with shake roof done also in card stock. The paint on both of these structures is the above mentioned milk paint over a dark gray base color.
If it hasn't become evident yet, I model primarily rural scenes. I suppose it's my country upbringing or the fact that I just don't like cities much. But whatever the reason, I have plenty of subject matter here on the coast of Maine to pick from. I'm not often without my camera and have irked many a driver by stopping short to get a photo of an old delapidated barn or rusting truck out in a field.

I'd like to do a part 2 to this structure business soon and have quite a few more structures left to show so please check back again.

1 comment:

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