Wiltshire or Arizona?
Well they say we have to learn as we go along, so here are six "lessons learnt" that I'll be taking with me from the scenic work on "The bay". Some of it is basic stuff I suppose, but perhaps there are one or two things of interest to others.
1. Kill your darlings
I tend to have these little pet features on the layout that I really like when viewed on their own, but which somehow don't fit into the bigger picture. After much agonizing I've decided that it's best to be tough in such situations and apply the writer's principle of "kill your darlings". I was, for instance, quite taken by these tufts of Silflor grass around the buffer stop, but it suggested a rural or unkempt location, not a large urban station in Edwardian times. So it had to go. I did add a bit of grass elsewhere in the yard, but not much.
Surplus to requirements on "The bay"
2. Less is indeed more
This photo shows items I had planned / built for the layout, but which were ousted after a ruthless "clean-up" exercise. Inspired by a suggestion over on MREmag (can't find the posters name, sorry!), I sat back and removed each and every individual item on the layout in turn, to see if it actually added to the impression I wanted, or just cluttered things up. It was quite an eye-opener, and helped give a far more spacious feel to the layout. I realize this is a subjective thing, and certainly agree that the "cluttered" approach can add a lot of atmosphere too, if done well. Each to his own!
3. Poses matter
Before building this layout I hadn't given much thought to just how much the poses of figures contribute to the sense of period. So I had planned to feature this assembly of figures in a central position on the layout. [Clarkson mode on] However, there was a problem [Clarkson mode off]. While the out-of-period clothing could have been modified, their rather lax poses just didn't befit the formal and slightly pompous atmosphere of an Edwardian station. We even had an interesting little discussion over on RMweb3 on whether it was realistic for a porter to be reading a newspaper at work during this period! In the end, none of these gentlemen made in onto the layout. One or two other similar figures did, but their poses suggested a momentary pause rather than this kind of loafing about!
4. Consistency of colours
Mrs Longbottom's niece in the blue dress has been annoying me as one of those irritating little features on a layout that just isn't quite right. It's taken me a while to realize that she is the only blue item on the layout, and therefore clashes with the remaining colours, which are mostly subdued shades of red/brown/orange and white/grey/black. It doesn't help much that she is slightly shiny, maybe I used satin varnish by mistake. I fear that my usual little trick of adding baby talc to tone down the finish won't be enough here. Repaint needed. Edit: Or not? See dicussion in the comments below.
5. Easy on the weathering
This is more like a lesson not learnt. I really should know better, but too often I tend to go overboard on the weathering. This stuff should be built up gradually and with restraint, not sploshed on indiscriminately. By way of example, this Tiny Signs poster offered a perfect clue to the date of the layout, as it advertises the new Fishguard route opened in 1906. I gave it a prime location at the front of the layout, and then proceeded directly to over-weather both the poster and the wooden paneling. I did manage to remove some of the stuff on the poster, but the edges reveal just how far I'd gone.
I have it from reliable sources that thinking always helps . This sign was supposed to hang suspended from the canopy. But working from the other side, I fitted it upside down. As a result, it would have pointed directly to the sky. I know we all have to go out that way some day, but I'm not sure the passengers at Farthing would like to be reminded of it!