So much of what we do in modeling is subjective and interpretive in nature. I often go back and rework the color and texture of existing track. I have altered the colors, added more texture and happily carved away at ties for a rotted and decayed look. I don’t worry about messing something up, as I’m confident I can fix most mistakes and, if not, then I pile on extra ballast, dirt, weeds and so on to hide my lack of skill.

Most of this work is altering the color of ties. As long time readers know, I reused a section of track with turnouts from the old layout as the basis for the Mill Road cameo. I had to extend the existing track on each end, which meant I had to match the tie colors. Fortunately, ties come in a wide range of colors and textures, so this is not a critical task.

These ties have a base coat of the golden oak wood stain that gives them a yellow cast. As you know by now I’m not fond of this color anymore and I’ve been over them several times to alter their appearance. As I often do, I take a try-something-and-see-what-happens approach, so I don’t have a step-by-step formula to share.

In most cases, I simply apply a wash of color (typically one of the Tamiya grays), or work in some chalk dust or weathering powder. I’m also a fan of real dirt that has been sifted for size, then dried and sterilized in a low temperature oven. This is my go-to material for giving scenery a consistent overall tone that ties the elements together.

I’ve never been afraid to alter the color of finished track. There really isn’t any way to make a critical mistake. Here on the foreground running track I added a wash of gray to several ties in order to tone down the yellow of the wood stain.

I’m adding a second module that will act as a staging track and switch lead. The only lighting for this module will be the spillover light from the main scene, as I want the eye to remain there. The track will be on a fill with finished scenery and ballast however, as the light level falls off over the length of the module, I plan to reduce the amount of scenery texture and fade the color of everything to black at the opposite end. Some preliminary tests show this will be very effective in reducing the visual impact of this “off stage” area.

At the junction of the two I need to pay attention to the ties and scenery colors to provide a smooth seamless visual transition between them. As you might remember from these earlier posts linked below, I desaturated the scenery color on this end of the main scene to steer the eye back toward the center. I have a bit more work to do with the tie color here but it’s getting there.

Color matching the ties of the new staging module to those of the finished scene is a matter of trial and error. Again, the wide range of tie color on the prototype works to my advantage.

I think a little darker tone will bland the two nicely.

To summarize, there’s a lot we can do with color on a layout. I’ve learned from diorama modelers the impact that color can have in conveying a mood and atmosphere. Such techniques open up many possibilities for enhancing our modeling.


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