Railroad sky backdrop

“Hi Alastair,

Several comments on how I did the sky, thought I’d share the technique with everyone, It’s all done with emulsion. First, paint the complete wall with whichever shade of blue you would like, then when it’s dry, with a stiff brush no bigger than 1/2″ start by painting the outer cloud with pure white in short circular motions, 1″ at a time and moving along right to left, as you come further down into the cloud let the brush dry out of paint on it’s own accord until the blue starts to come through the cloud. this way you can layer the cloud as often as you wish.

On some of them smoothly merge a grey into the bottom of the white to emphasise the shade from the sun. for the whispey bits of cloud (which are not too prominent in the photograph) very lightly with a smaller stiff dry brush, paint a few whispey lines away from the main cloud in a slightly wonkey motion to fade out to nothing. It took a few days to paint the clouds and get it how I wanted, but is was certainly worth it.

Will be in touch again when got new photos, Just doing my church at the moment


Stuart P”

And here’s what the house bundle below can look like if you get busy:

Latest ebay cheat sheet here

Keep ’em coming!



13 Responses to Railroad sky backdrop

  1. This is one briliant idea for a sky backdrop. I was looking at cutouts – and/or actual photographs. Now,after seeing Stuarts images and reading his how-to, I know what way to go now. As always Alastair, an excellent and relatively easy method of creating clouds.
    Now a question for active wiring enthusists; are there any ideas on how to wire a crossing so that lights and gates active simultaniously well before the train reaches the crossing. Generally, crossing gates will drop when the train rolls over a floating track. Not realistic.

    Larry B. in Ajax,Ontario. HO and N-scale amateur.

  2. Dear Alastair
    Thank you for all your emails, please ask Dave to turn up the volume on his commentaries and turn down the volume on the sound effects.
    Thank you once again.

    I am just figuring out how to get you a video.
    from my little piece of England in Ontario.
    best regards
    Peter Jacobs

  3. Hi Al,

    Thanks for the updates from Stuart and Dave …
    Stuart that shy is beautiful. Thanks for the directions on how to.
    Dave you have a great railroad thank you for sharing the video update.

    This site is a great place to be.

    Keep on training!

    tom N

    PS: The cloud background will fit nicely into my N gauge raillroad with its design. Going to do it.

  4. Thanks for a great tip. Just the info I needed.

  5. Thanks for all the hints and tips that you post, keep ’em coming

  6. nice back drop

  7. Hi Al,

    I was wondering if you could post a track layout and size. Watching the video it is difficult to visualize the track layout itself. I love what you have done, and am getting my basement cleared out so I can build a layout for my grandson.


    Mr. Mike

  8. it is all amazing stuff i love watching the videos and the how tos

  9. Has anyone thought about using cotton wads for a 3D effect? In one of my past artworks, while using oil paints, I used pretty much the same steps as listed in the above article and waited ’till the paint was tacky. I would then take light tuffs from cotton wads and applied them to my painted cloud areas, using white cotton for the top and using gray shades for the bottom sides. It did turn out fairly decent.

    The gray cotton was created before the the oil paint was tacky, by using a shallow pan with a very diluted wash of medium gray acrylic paint. I would take the cotton and allow it to soak up the diluted gray liquid and then set the cotton on paper to wick away the excess liquid from the cotton. When dried, I would then take the stiff cotton and flex it in my hands to make it fluffy again and then applied it to the artwork’s tacky paint as the underside of the clouds.

    When I was finished and content with the way the artwork looked and it was fully dried. In a dust free room, I then took hair spray gently and lightly coated the cotton to stiffen it up and to repel dust. Later, when the artwork needed to be dusted, I used the exhaust hose of a vacuum cleaner to blow dust off the clouds. To defuse the air, I used an old knee-high nylon sock covering the exhaust tube. Now-a-days you can use the canned air that techs use for dusting keyboards and other computer hardware with. Remember to use just short burst of canned air.

  10. Sorry about the sound , will have to switch off the loco sounds when commenting , what I tried to say was the coaches where too heavy for the little 4 f steam Loco , I put the bigger duchess class on and no problem , that incline is a bit steep though 3 and a half inch in 10 ft of run . diesels no problem , but smaller steam there is ..

  11. By the way Al I ain`t that big ??


  13. Can you explain or clarify what a ‘Wonky’ motion is???

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