I've been spending some time thinking about scenery and how to make my simple scenes more appropriate for 19th-century England.
As I have described in earlier posts, my layout started life as a 'kiddie' layout, to interest my then small son. Many of the buildings are from very old kits and include several Faller buildings which, while very nicely detailed, have decidedly non-English appearance. For example, this is the workshop associated with the quarry on the narrow-gauge (009) section of my layout.
I like the 'romantic charm' of many of these buildings, so have been thinking how I might 'Anglicise' them a little. One of the most obvious differences lies in the roofs, which are wooden shingles of a type almost unknown in Britain. So, my first step has been to consider some of the alternative sheets available from Wills kits. But which to choose?
I hit on the idea of using photography and some Photoshop trickery, to help me decide. In the process, I discovered that wonderful material called 'Tacky Wax', which does exactly what the name says. A very thin smear of this wax on the back of a panel of Wills roofing allowed me to attach it temporarily to the roof of the existing building. In this way, I could quickly compare slates (Wills SSMP203), dressed stone (SSMP202), and sheet+batten roofing (SSMP229). I photographed the building with each sample sheet 'tacked' in place, then used Photoshop Elements to select the roof area from each photo and paste it onto the original building. (I didn't even cut the sheets but trimmed the excess in Photoshop).
All the photos were taken under exactly the same lighting conditions. The results are shown below:
For my chosen model location in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, I have no doubt that the 'dressed stone' (Wills SSMP202) looks the most suitable and, with careful painting and a little applied 'moss', should give quite a 'realistic' appearance. I feel that this way of using photography has helped me to visualise how I want to go forward with my modelling.
I have had another important revelation recently. Having spent a career soldering electronic circuits, I couldn't understand why I was having so much trouble with soldering brass models. Then the penny dropped - 'lead-free solder' I've bought a large reel of 60:40 and things are back to normal! Now, my bit stays bright, wets easily, and makes joints in seconds. So long as babies do not chew my model engines, I should be ok.
Finally, an atmospheric painting of the quarry area from Amy's easel. I feel that she has captured something of the Gothic gloom in the dark recesses hollowed out from the limestone hills.