John’s been in touch with how he builds each model train scene to create a visual ‘journey’ around his layout:
I thought I’d opine on a subject that is sometimes overlooked as we build our miniature railroad worlds.
My article here is on “focusing” or “guiding” our visitors to a scene.
A little background. In the real world as we visit a park, take a walk in the country, or amble through a museum, most of us will not remember in any detail 90% of the day.
On the way home as we look back at our adventure, we’ll remember specific parts of the day’s journey. Very little or at best most is not pinned to our memory.
So then, what made the memory flashbulb go off? The scene had something to draw our eye and hold it long enough to imprint a memory. Museums are expert at this, we don’t remember the hallway to the dinosaur bones, but remember the bones.
On my layout, I’ve tried to have 3 places where my visitors “take in a scene” as shown in the schematic picture.
In model building we often take great pride in the details of the model, place it on the layout and then have to mention those detail labors of love to our visitors as they are drawn to looking elsewhere.
In the pictures I have attached, I have taken from the perspective of the persons visiting my West Virginia mountains, and try to show how I’ve worked to stage the scenes.
Obviously since we are looking at the HO world from what would be equivalent to a helicopter window flying some 500 feet or more in the air, one will see a larger scene than if we were walking along the road in the real world.
That means some manipulation of space is required. I try to present the whole scene, then as one gets closer, mini-scenes of the total.
If my visitors are interested in details, such as in the “old mine” picture, I try to have some holes in the trees or places to look past the building to see those details. In the case of the old mine, I made a “funnel” in the hills to draw the eye past the new mine to the old one.
If I want to create focus, and I can, I provide extra light on a place, as shown by example the picture of my electrical sub-station. Each model train scene should ‘work’ on its own.
Since I’m modeling mountains in the coal mine sections, I have the advantage of adding details on levels. The picture of the old water tower above the mines supplying water to them is an example of elevating the scene to a different level, as is the picture of wooden bridge which is lower and more in the foreground. Going from eye level and continuing downward, I modeled a canyon under the bridges which drops to just 3” above the floor.
Most of what I have here has been sent in before in articles Al has been kind enough to post, but I thought I’d try to add a new perspective to what we do as we build our models.
I’m happy with the way this layout came out… but some of the radius of the turns are too tight, so I can’t run many of the locomotives and passenger equipment I’d like to have as part of the running environment.
So I’ve been slowing down on “new” construction as I’m going to be moving the layout to a new location. (groan) Starting in a month or so, I’ll be sawing the thing into pieces which I can move from the basement of the house to the top floor attic, some 3 floors (and 5 doorways!) up.
First job is to finish the upstairs room, put down a new floor, get lighting and power where I need it, paint walls and ceiling for background, and add some baseboard heat.
I hope to document the work on what will be very likely my last layout!
John From Baltimore”
A big thanks to John for sharing how he creates each model train scene on his layout.
If you want to read his last post, it’s right here.
Now on to Henry – his last post is at the bottom of this one:
In response to some of the comments asking for a track plan, here are the track plans for both the upper and lower levels.
The two level will be connected via a linear climb along the two long walls of the garage, as I have no space for a helix.
I also include a link to a youtube video of a passenger train around the bottom level of my layout.
That’s all for today folks. Please do keep ’em coming.
And if you want to make a start on your own layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.
PS Seen the latest ebay cheat sheet yet?