Last Saturday I visited my local model railway exhibition - AbRail 2015. I was looking for ideas on scenery and there was a good number of interesting layouts. Several featured canals and water and, of these, I particularly enjoyed the 'Aldford Brewery' (Wimbledon MRC) and the canal-side inn at 'Mulldale' (Letchworth MRC).
Aldford Brewery (Wimbledon MRC) at AbRail 2015
I also thought that there were some impressive trees alongside 'The Abingdon Branch'. Initially I thought 'Highclere' (Julia Adams) looked rather sparse but then I came to realise how superbly 'realistic' this model is. The highly-compressed layouts, of which mine is an example, might pack in some interesting 'vignettes' but, overall, they are far from realistic.
I took the opportunity for a chat with Julia and she deftly re-assembled her 'City of Truro' from its components, as I watched. The seemingly effortless way in which it all fitted together made me think how coarse my own efforts are, and the quality of the engineering that makes such precision possible at 2mm scale! I mentioned my own trepidation at starting painting the figures for my own layout and she pointed out that the important thing is to make a start and then 'practise, practise, practise'.
So, with that encouragement, I have taken the plunge and applied a paintbrush to the first of my 'Edwardian/Victorian' figures. I chose to practise on some 'Langley' figures, in the hope that I can develop enough skill to do reasonable justice to the Andrew Stadden figures that I bought last year.
I initially sprayed the figures with grey primer and then decided to use artists' acrylic paints for the actual colouring. I have a good set of sable brushes and, for this task, chose to use a Size 00 brush from the Winsor & Newton 3A series. These brushes have good 'body' to hold a reasonable amount of paint whilst maintaining an extremely fine tip.
I decided to hold the model for painting in a 'Model Craft' universal work holder. This tool has a nice wooden handle, which gives a firm grip, while allowing the model to be turned around easily during painting. I secured the base of each figure with a small lump of 'Blu Tack', pressed into the mounting ring.
I read somewhere that it is a good idea to start by painting the faces, so the first step was to mix a suitable flesh colour from mainly White, plus a little Azo Yellow and a very small 'touch' of Alizarin Crimson. I thinned the mix a little with water and a drop of iso-propyl alcohol, to improve the flow.
My Painting Set-up
The other essential tool (for my eyesight, at least) is an illuminated magnifier. The fine tip achieved by the sable brush really makes it quite easy to put the paint in the right places!
(photo by R. Flemming)
I used the flesh colour to paint the faces and hands of all the figures in my Langley set and then concentrated on completing the figure that I chose to represent Blanche Wilcote. I looked at illustrations in 'Dame Fashion- Paris-London (1786-1912)' by Julius M.Price, referred to in a previous post in my blog, and mixed what I felt were appropriate colours for the period. After applying the main colours, I then picked out some details in the dress and hat, to produce the result shown below:
Blanche Wilcote (1st attempt)
I'm really quite pleased with this first attempt, though I need to work on providing more realistic details in the face. Having 'broken the ice', I can now settle down into working up my technique on the other 'Langley' figures and then I may feel ready for the Stadden set. At least, I can keep Blanche's petulant pleas for new dresses at bay for a little while