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Backdrop and Fascia

Throughout the layout, both the fascia and backdrop start with 1/8″ hardboard that is tempered on one side.  The tempered side is out for a smooth painting surface and the hardboard held in place with countersunk flat head screws.  The screws are countersunk flush with the level of the tempered surface so that tape and joint compound can be used to hide all joints and screws and create a single smooth surface after painting.

To make the smooth bends in the hardboard without cracking it, the untempered back side of the hardboard is generouly sprayed with water to loosen the fibers enough to bend more easily.  Nature generally does not have hard corners, and I prefer to avoid them in my scenery.  Special care was taken around the bulb end at the end of the peninsula to ensure the hardboard was bending without too much resistance and screwed in place while the back of the hardboard was still very wet so that it would be prone to drying bent with the least stress on the screws.

The problem on an outside bend such as around the end of the peninsula is the direction of stress.  The hardboard wants to pull off the curve to try to return to straight.  The 1/8″ thickness with countersunk screws is taking the stress perpendicularly to the hardboard, so the risk of the hardboard giving way and popping past the sc rew head is present.  On inside curves such as where the bulb transitions to the straight divider, stress on the screws is across the screws with the direction of surface of the hardboard, so the hardboard pulling off past the screw head is not an issue. The need to secure the hardboard carefully around the end also is the reason why the round support structure was created as a stacked double-wheel and not as a single wheel.  I wanted to endure I could use center screws around the curve in addition to top and bottom.  For the fascia, as you can see, I cut round corners in the plywood surface of the end of the peninsula to ease the fascia around each corner.

Base and Background Paint

After taping and joint compound are complete, dried, and smoothed, painting of the backdrop occurred in layers.  First I paint a section of backdrop my chosen full sky blue color.  While the paint is wet, I then start at the bottom with white paint, blending it and using less paint as I move up on the backdrop. This emulates how the sky is lightest towards the horizon, especially if cloudy on the horizon, and becomes more blue as you look higher in the sky.  I also use very small amounts of white paint with a 2″ brush in a very random pattern essentiially squashing the brush and again blending with the still wet blye paint to create the clouds.  A little blue and gray may be blended with the white for the clouds to create the darker shadows on the undersides of the clouds.  Not being an artist, my ability to describe the technique is limited, and is one I had developed through trial and error with V1 and V2 of the layout after watching videos online.

The subroadbed surface of the benchwork is painted a dull brown which serves ro disguise the ground if there are slight variations and minor gaps in coverage of the groundcover added later. It also just looks better than bare plywood while later work is proceeding.

Once the basic sky is painted, I later go back and add whatever foreground features should be present on the backdrop.  For much of the lower level, this means distant trees and forest using techniques I learned online. While there may be better techniques for an artist, the approach that works fo rme is to continue to work in layers.  If the ground and trees were not present, there would be only the sky (the blue with the clouds layered in the way.)  But there is ground to the horizon, so I paint an approapriate brownish-olive ground layer to the height on the backdrop where the horizon would be.  Then I paint the trees over that,  knowing for wooded areas that it will be mostly hidden by the trees on the layout.  One key is to make most of the background trees a bit smaller than the trees that will appear on the layout, so forced perspective can create an illusion of distance.  Here is an example of very crude forest treeline.

It looks a bit crude, but the scene really takes shape as I start to add trees to the layout in front of it.

For the fascia, I use a forest green shade that I have been using since V1 of the layout.  I was able to closely match it with a green fabric for the skirting to complete a more finished look to the front of the layout.

The skirting was cut to appropriate height allowing enough material to hem top and bottom with seam tape, with a weighted cord in the bottom hem, and pleated with seam tape.  It is hung from the benchwork via clothespins that are hot glued to the benchwork frames. The skirting is in roughly 3′ slightly overlapped sections so that it is easy to part the skirting to get at stored items under the layout.