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Discussion Starter #1
After mulling over various approaches to my background and mining several forums for ideas and tips, I think I've found my answer.

So far it's been easy to find materials, quick to do the steps and so far I think it looks convincing.

Goal: to create a mountainous, layered look with some depth to the background. Thinking NY's Adirondack region...

First: Get some 1 - 2" foam from Joann's Etc. (used for making seat cushions etc.) I bought about 9'x2' x 1" for $20. Seemed expensive, but then after figuring that I will cut it into 6" strips that equals 36' of background. (You could of course use any height you wished)

Back - foam roll.jpg

Second: Cut some mountain range looking pieces, with a maximum of 6" height.(sorry no shots)

Third: Using a lighter (torchier style - like for a BBQ) or a small Bernzomatic butane torch, sculpt the upper edges of the mountains.
DO THIS OUTSIDE, WITH PROPER VENTILATION. Nasty fumes. 'Nuff said. Also - let dry for a day or so. The melted foam is very sticky.

Back - burned foam.jpg

Four: Paint with spray paint. I used 3 colors - brown for top edges, green for bottom edge and streaking up "valleys", and light gray for highlights on valleys and peaks.

This is my test piece.

Back - 1 layer sample.jpg

DSCN8031.jpg

So far, very pleased...It's luck that the small pockets in the foam catch light and seem to simulate the small variations in distant tree canopies.

I made a small test piece with rigid foam (the pink stuff) and some clump foliage on it. This will be the transitional layer, tying into the foreground.

Back - test 2 layers.jpg

Back - test on layout 2.jpg

Background - distant layers.jpg

Some likes:
  • real shadows improve realism
  • can be layered and shaded to create as many levels of depth as desired
  • CURVABLE! Great for following masonite or other such curved hardboard backdrops

Got 16 feet cut, "sculpted' and ready to be painted. Gimme some feedback quick!

Back - 2 8footers.jpg

Thanks for any advice and comments
~Kingred
 

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Yeah thats a pretty rad idea.

I think I need to look at something like that. I have fairly narrow modules and would like to increase the realism of the background and transition.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Illusion of depth

Thanks for all the comments.

TJ - you're correct - the illusion of depth is really something considering it's only a 2 1/2" space.

Back - 2 inch depth.jpg

I'll post some more photos once I can find a heated place to spray paint the mountains (way too cold out right now!)

~Kingred
 

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Before you burn the edges, what are you cutting the foam with? If I recall, I watched a store-clerk at a craft store cut foam with an electric knife (like you might have to carve a turkey) with great success ... crisp edges, without tearing through it.

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #11
to cut foam...

I just used a pair of scissors, the sharper the better. The electric knife would probably work, but the scissors are nice for getting the undulating or even craggy profile. I'd think you can get more intricate with scissors than electric blades.

If you angle the scissors (as opposed to cutting straight through the face of the foam perpendicular, at 90 degrees) you'll actually be making 2 sets of mountains at once - almost like negatives, facing each other. Saves time from having to cut twice. Just make sure you have enough room on each side of the cut, and mark out where the general "center line" would be.

These pieces would fit together rather like jigsaw pieces if you flipped one over.

Back - jigsaw pieces.jpg

Of course any obvious symmetry will be camouflaged after you melt or shape the profile with a torch or retouch with scissors.
~Kingred
 

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Great ideal, thanks for sharing.:thumbsup:

Now this picture is nothing but paint right?
It almost looks like you sprinkled some grass on it.

DSCN8031.jpg
 

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Got it. Thanks.

One thing to be cautious of ...

After some time (several years), that chair-cushion foam dries out and begins to crumble to dust. I'm not sure if the paint will protect it / stop the decay, but do be mindful of your potential life span here.

TJ
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Got it. Thanks.

One thing to be cautious of ...

After some time (several years), that chair-cushion foam dries out and begins to crumble to dust. I'm not sure if the paint will protect it / stop the decay, but do be mindful of your potential life span here.

TJ
Perfect! It'll simulate global warming!
...and give me an excuse to start a larger layout, with some water features!
 

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Got it. Thanks.

One thing to be cautious of ...

After some time (several years), that chair-cushion foam dries out and begins to crumble to dust. I'm not sure if the paint will protect it / stop the decay, but do be mindful of your potential life span here.

TJ
as it crumbles, spray some glue or clear paint over it to simulate a rock slide.
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Photo finish

Got busy today, even in the frigid air. Can't spray paint in the basement, says the boss...:D
biged - just paint on the foam. I agree, looks like it could be groundcover!

First - brown across the peaks

Back - brown top .jpg

Second - green across the lower areas and up the valleys

Back - green bottom.jpg

Third - some highlights (light gray then beige). Below shows with highlights and without

Back - highlights.jpg

Finally - a few shots on the layout.

Back - panorama 3.jpg

Back - Panorama 2.jpg

and one showing the curved background...

Back - curved background.jpg


Still need to install some intermediate scenery and "layers".

Self critique - a few parts look too craggy, almost exaggerated, even for ADK region. Kinda feels like Mordor or the Misty Mountains! I like it though...

Also, be sure to smooth out any "potholes" from the Bernzomatic torch - looks like I have deeper "holes" or divots in the mountains than I'd noticed before painting


Thanks all. Again, the process was fairly fast and painfree. Next to adding DCC, ntohing has had a more immediate and dramatic impact on the layout, and it only took a few hours!

Hope this might interest someone and give them an idea or two

~Kingred
 

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I just love this idea. It adds incredible depth/perspective, in a very easy/cheap manner.

I can't wait to see the intermediate layers come to life!

TJ
 
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