I like to use examples like this one because it’s the type of scene most of us would ignore totally. Nothing here but a field of grass right? Yes and no. This location is near a grade crossing, which is behind me. Clearly there is an access road for railroad maintenance vehicles to reach the relay box in the distance. It’s so simple yet how often do we model something like this? Furthermore, how many would include the clump of asphalt or whatever that is, that’s been dumped here?
Is there any difference between the gravel ballast on the roadbed and that gravel in the drive? I think there might be. The reason I think this is because the gravel in the drive is getting compacted and worn down by vehicle traffic, however infrequently it might happen. This will produce a visual difference in the texture and coloring even if it’s a subtle one.
Let’s look at the utility pole. See the guy wire coming down on the left? What about the metal tag from the utility company about five or six feet up? Notice the plant growth? Wild vines and other growth will take full advantage of protected conditions and support, such as the base of a pole or building foundation. Look also at the taller weed growth near the edge of the access road. Indicates to me that the farmer didn’t want to risk damage to his equipment by getting too close to that gravel.
Notice further the patches of dead grass along the road edge. Something else easily overlooked. In the distance, notice how the relay box sits on a solid foundation of gravel that has been built up to track level. Again, it’s obvious when you see it, but something that’s easily overlooked at first.
Details like these lift model scenes from generic to life-like because everything rings true to the real 12″=1′ world. So, what do you see?