I lay the blame for this post squarely on the shoulders of my friend in Nova Scotia Chris Mears. He posted a gorgeous drawing by James Hilton of the mini layout of Coy Paper in New Hampshire that Chris is Building (you really should check out his blog on what he’s doing, its going to be great!). I sent Chris an email about something for his mini layout, and the observant sort he is, he commented on something I said in the email and pushed for more info.
My response, was that I am not nearly the artist that James is, and I didn’t think I could do a sketch nearly as nice as his of what I have been noodling around in my mind as a possible side diorama project, which, I note, I don’t really need, I’m building a layout, and I don’t model modern…or own the equipment for the diorama…yet here we are…
Pre-visualization is an important tool in painting, sketching, drawing, architecture, movie making, and, yes, Model Railroading. Sketching things out, looking at how the pieces fit together, can you achieve what you want, and yes, inspiration on the look of what you are doing. Despite my education and professional background as an Urban Planner, I was not strong in drawing, never was. I am decent on a computer in CAD or 3D modelling, but in my life I have never been particularly good with pen, pencil, marker and paper.
So, inspite of my better judgement to continue to not entertain the ideas rattling around in my empty head, in response to Mears’ email (coming back to he who shall be blamed), I pulled out the drawing supplies, and off we went sketching the “Modern” diorama shelf that has been brewing in my mind.
Stages of sketching, from blank paper to pencil lined and ready for ink and colour.
EDIT: Adding this sketch from Anyrail just to try and help visualize my initial thoughts on the track alignment in response to James’ comment. This is really a project where I would need to build the bridge at least in high quality mockup to see what the angles and spacing are.
So what am I thinking of? A tiny compressed slice of the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Galt Subdivision in Milton. Using my usual diorama base of Ikea shelves, I can re-arrange the two wide Billy’s I have under the layout to get a 30″ by 10″ shelf, wide enough for a compressed version of the view east from Canyon Road (note my spelling error in the draft work above..d’oh!). This is a stretch of double track, with a slight incline from east to west, where there are a pair of signals to the east of the road, past an old private crossing wooden farm bridge (which is still in use as the only way to access some fields between the CPR tracks and Highway 401!). This is a gorgeous spot, and I became quite smitten with it after finally taking a day and making sure I got some trains there with the bridge framing them. Lets be honest, private crossings like this, especially old timber ones are rare, and it would be all to easy for it to be gone tomorrow and I’d spend years regretting not getting the shot!
The view east from Canyon Road as a CPR train climbs towards Campbelville passing beneath the wooden farm bridge, and my sketch of what I’d like to create. Room for a modern locomotive and an autorack to create the feel of this for photography.
The actual length from the farm bridge to the signals is a lot more than could be modelled in 30″, but, I could create the feel of the location, and it would give me an excuse to buy an Athearn Genesis SD70ACu when they do a second run including the D-Day Tribute locomotive 6644 (I love it, some of my friends think I’m nuts, either way) and a nicely detailed modern autorack like those from ScaleTrains. Do I need any of this? Hell No! But I kind of want it, and I’ve been spending an undue amount of time of late thinking about what supplies I’d need, how I would lay track (even contemplating handlaying it…gasp), and how I would create the sense of the view from the road in HO scale. I guess watch this space dear readers…and Mears….this is for you…