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Discussion Starter · #22 · (Edited)
Now that the backdrop is in place, I've been adding trees to blend the backdrop with the layout and to divide the layout visually into separate scenes. This is the area I've been focusing on. (Note that this photo doesn't show the backdrop installed.)

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I wanted this to be a semi-rural, residential area. I didn't want it to appear that the yellow house on the left is immediately adjacent to the rail yard/service terminal, nor that the small house on the right is immediately adjacent to the rail tunnel.

To create separation, I used mostly evergreen trees. I have a range of sizes and used the largest ones up front and smallest ones in the rear to create forced perspective. This technique proved quite effective.

Here is the general store. The relatively small trees create depth and, with the help of the hill, help to obscure the entrance and exit to the rail yard/service terminal that runs directly behind the store.

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This general store will need foreground trees, foundation plants, a mailbox, etc. I also hope to make a small, roadside sign for it. (Pictured here is a long, shared driveway.)

Here is the house. It now appears separate from the rail yard/service terminal rather than immediately adjacent to it.

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The house also will need foreground trees, foundation plants, mailboxes, etc.

Here is what the track that runs behind these buildings looks like. It will need some additional landscaping to blend the cinder ballast with the adjacent sand and weeds.

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Both of these scenes, of course, will also need people to help bring them to life.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
Hey Steam, What are the dimensions of the layout and the diameter of your track that circles your yard/tt area?
The layout is 9' x 8 1/2', and the turns are on a 20" radius. That was the largest I could squeeze into this corner of my basement.
 
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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
Thanks, everyone.

Here is a rough schematic, Old Guy. (Note that the rail yard/engine service area on the left is not drawn very accurately here, as I adjusted it from what I originally had sketched out once I started laying track.)

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I've tried to use backdrops and other scene dividers to make the layout feel larger than it is. I tried not to use too many tunnels, which made the backdrop passthroughs something of a puzzle to sort out. The entire back side of the layout is hidden, so that the trains cannot be seen traveling in circles. As I've added trees and a printed backdrop, it's really started to look larger and more realistic.

I've also tried to incorporate enough track for interesting operations without making it feel overly crowded. Separating the rail yard/engine service area on the left from the town on the right definitely has helped it not to feel crowded. Having a separate, mountainous area on the far right has helped, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #31 ·
I can't tell from the track plan and photos but are you able to access inside the tunnels and the hidden areas?
Currently, the tunnels are daylighted behind the portals, but I will be installing removable covers for both areas soon. The backdrops are 12" tall, which makes it possible for me to reach behind them, if necessary. The narrower places are the most difficult to reach.

I've been using the larger tunnel area as a place to store extra rail cars when not in use. These include rail cars for my service facility (i.e., a tanker for diesel fuel, a gondola for ash, a gondola for sand, a hopper for coal) as well as an RPO combine car that I sometimes use instead of a caboose on a local train. I am considering building storage for extra cars into the removable covers, so that the extra cars are easier to access but still out of the way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Thanks. I really like this layout. Hope you don't mind if I borrow a few ideas...:)
Go ahead, I'd be honored! I will be very interested to see what you end up with. Please share updates as you make progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #37 ·
I sketched it out in Excel and then carefully drew it out by hand on the foam that I used as the sub-roadbed for the layout. In drawing it out, I began by positioning and aligning all the turnouts carefully and then connecting them with flex track. All the curves are set at a 20-in radius. I hope that this helps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I've been working on another area of water on the layout. This is a low spot near the rail yard / service facility.

I started out by cutting into the 1.5" styrofoam all the way down to the plywood underneath and then smoothing with Sculptamold. I carved out concrete bridge abutments from the foam, smoothed them with lightweight spackle, and painted them a weathered concrete color. I painted the bottom a blend of brown, black, and blue and added some sand. I then poured Realistic Water with a murky tint.

I added two plastic culverts and some small talus at the end to represent an area filled in for the rail yard / service facility. I made some water flowing from the culverts using strips of plastic film dipped in Realistic Water. I also added small amounts of Realistic Water on top to create small ripples (shown drying here).

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I used washes of brown paint to create rust on the Warren truss bridge that spans the rippling water.

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I then added cattails to the edges and surrounded it with tall weeds made from lichen covered in ground foam to complete the wet, marshy look of the area. I also added a few boulders.

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Here is a picture of how everything turned out.

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