Squinting at life

Candy_Streeter Jul 5, 2012

  1. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

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    I think I've had too much fourth of July beer. Samuel Adams beer of course.

    Well I would like to get a discussion going if you all would like to share your thoughts. I'm starting on a new section of my RR and I'm having trouble getting started. It's like a jigsaw puzzle as it is really hard in the beginning but it gets easier as you go along. I have a very strange mind when it come to designing a scene for my layout. I must have a idea of what I want and be able to picture it in my mind, in a crude way, in order for me to get going. It builds from there as one piece of the puzzle leads me into the next. I have, at times, changed in mid stream and started over, but that doesn't happen very often. I would like to know from other members how they get their ideas and how they execute them.
     
  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    In a way, what you describe of your own situation seems to have some familiarity for me. I'd bet many others could share similar feelings.

    I usually have in mind something I recollect from my past, during a memorable time frame or of a favorite site. Sometimes it is a place visited which made an impression, for one reason or another. Often I doodle with good old pencil and paper, look at pictures, daydream. Sometimes quickly, but usually eventually a concept starts forming.

    And this was written without any Holiday libation!
     
  3. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

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    Sorry- I wrote half a post, hit the wrong button and it erased. And it is late and I am tired.
    I have way too many ideas for the time and money and space and skill I have.
    I always want a sense of place. Not exactly a perfect replica of a particular place, but a place with a sense about it.
    What is there that is so right for the place?
    What is not actually there, but would fit so well?
    What would be funny or ironic if it were there?
    Is there another place not too close, but somehow LIKE the place I am modeling-- a little bit at least?
    (I am modeling Galveston, Texas but there are a few things that remind of me New Orleans...)
    What is there that has some particular history behind it, not that George Washington slept here, but that there is some evidence of something from another era that has affected the way something looks.
    Can I imagine a movie whose story is set in the scene I am modeling? How would its characters relate to the scene?

    If I am modeling something that is long gone, what is there still around that may be a parallel to that long-gone scene? Thinking about it, and imagining nthat my present experience is "like" something else may give me some ideas.

    An idea for getting ideas.... go to the library and borrow a textbook on Creative Writing tht has a section about getting ideas and getting around writer's block. Then try some of the idea generating exercises but apply them to imagineering scenes rather thn scenarios.
    Some of my scenes come from vaguely remembered things from my childhood, things I saw at a distance, did not have a real experience of, but wondered about. So I researched them.

    See my long-drawn-out thead on developing a layout plan to see how I worked on designing scenes.
    http://www.trainboard.com/grapevine/showthread.php?t=88991&highlight=island+seaport

    Gotta go. Happy railroading and happy modeling. I love your modeling.
    (idea to self: maybe I should have a sweet shop on my layout named "Candy Street"... Wonder where that idea came from?)
     
  4. RailMix

    RailMix TrainBoard Member

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    Personally, I'm pretty good at visualizing, but find that I like to make a CAD drawing so I don't cheat and try to do things that won't fit. Another thing you might try is making some paper cutouts of structures you are interested in using, track, and even roads, get a cheap corkboard, draw out your space on a piece of paper (3/4"= a 1/1 scale foot seems to work well), and put everything on it with stick pins. Revisit it regularly and you will see ways to move things around and make improvements. This is a low tech method used for industrial plant layout from B.C. (before CAD) and it usually worked pretty well. Your next step, if need be, might be to put together a 3D paper mockup to see if the whole thing is visually appealing. Then if you like it, it's a go.
     
  5. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Candy,

    I'm similar to you. I fuss and fuss over what I want the area to be / look like, and have gone more than a year (example my just completed river) before I even start the area, just "playing" with the idea. Once I start, though, and especially with rural scenery (city is much different), the area takes on a life of its own. The moment I start to build the terrain, everything else follows the forms that "grow".

    In the city areas, it is much more rigid, since buildings, roads, etc have to fit together, and fit around the tracks. But, even then, some of the details came to me as I was finishing things up, not in the planning. Items like the S&H green stamp sign, or the guy in a t-shirt with beer bottle, outside the bar! I consider these finishing touches just the fact that the parts of the layout are "alive", and have a character of their own.
     
  6. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

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    I find I'm simpatico with some of what has already been written...thank you for your thoughts. In this busy world it is not always logical to stop and bring out your sketch book and try to capture what you are seeing....also not everyone has the ability....so a pocket camera will fix the problem. It's fast and far more accurate they a sketch.


    If an artrist sets up his easel, their is something in front of him that he wishes to capture. A model or a landscape for instance, but we don't have that luxury. We have bare plywood, or whatever, and nothing in front of us to capture; a big disadvantage but we somehow come up with inspiring ideas....but it could take a long time before it developes.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Pretty much my point. Except when I set up my "easel", so to speak, my subject material is not in front of my eyes to capture. It is in my memories and memorabilia.
     
  8. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    My layout is made up of modular components (NTRAK). Given the modular standards, there are limits as to what can be done. I like to build prototype scenes based on the local railroads as they existed in 1951. My challenge it to find the compromises to compress these scenes into the modular format and still have them be recognizable to someone who was there and remembers what it looked like. Old maps ,photos and eye witness accounts dictate what I try to achieve.
     
  9. MisterBeasley

    MisterBeasley TrainBoard Supporter

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    I, too, work from mental images rather than photos or documents. I'll occasionally Google up some images to provide inspiration, but I don't work from them. My logic behind this is that the things that stick in my mind are the things that will jog other people's memories as well, and therefore bring them into the scene through their memories, not my own.

    My subways are a prime example. I grew up outside of New York, and the single most important detail to me was the tile walls of the subway stations, along with the H-girder supports adjacent to the tracks at the edge of the platforms. I felt I had done my job when a co-worker and fellow former New Yorker saw the picture of my Saint Anne Street station on my computer. He was puzzled, because he didn't remember the station, and was kind of surprised to learn that the station was in my family room and it was named after my daughter.

    I do create diagrams, though, to make sure things will fit. Even so, that's just a "model of a model," and as things evolve I frequently make changes. From the beginning of this layout, I've made cardstock mockups of some buildings, and cut "footprint" shapes out of paper to help me play visually and spatially with how things will look.
     
  10. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

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    This is fascinating ! Thank you all.

    I saw a B&W picture once on-line. It was a scene in Harrisburg PA. I loved the scene and saved it for future reference. Unfortunately soon after my hard drive crashed. You guessed it...I didn't back-up anything. I've been trying to find that picture ever since, but no luck. I wish that we had a library of photos on-line that we can reference when looking for ideas. Any pictures of scenes we found interesting and we think model worthy. It could be anything and it doesn't have to have a track in sight. We can add that.
     
  11. Randy Stahl

    Randy Stahl TrainBoard Supporter

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    I've spent my life on the railroad , I have a very specific way things need to look . One big thing that I insisted on was metal wheels. More than once in the railyards the only thing that saved my life was the shiney steel wheels appearing in the darkness. In the winter time a rolling car is totally silent.

    I have been to many places along the right of way and most time you could see hints of what used to be there . You might see a set of switch ties with the switch taken out leaving a clue that there may have been an industry of some sort there. My best tool is field trips to old buildings and abandoned railroads. Naturally you cannot trespass on RR property but there are enough rail to trail locations to explore. Looking at old pictures and then taking field trips to the locations is lots of fun!!
     
  12. Mike Sheridan

    Mike Sheridan TrainBoard Member

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    Re your original post - look at the prototype. I don't mean the thing you are building a scale model of (unless you are) but similar locations. Browse online, get down with Google Earth and Streetview, etc, till you find something that fits.

    For this you might be interested in http://evernote.com/
    I've been using it for a while to 'sync' my notes which has been useful as I use several PCs and mobile devices. However, for your needs it has a 'web page snip' function and also everything is synced/stored in the cloud, so pesky computer failures won't be a problem. You'll have to check out any storage size limits yourself though - I've not even dented my free account.
     
  13. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks Mike ! I'll check it out
     
  14. Ironhorseman

    Ironhorseman Staff Member In Memoriam

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    Hi Candy -

    Give a description of the Harrisburg photo. Maybe someone in here has it, or can identify it.

    You have demonstrated a wonderful talent of being able to visualize an urban scene and then bring it to life on your module(s). Because of your artistic abilities, I would love to see you do something with landscaping and water features. They can be quite challenging and fun.

    Whatever your choice, I'm sure it will be a stunning inspiration to all of us! :eek:)
     
  15. Candy_Streeter

    Candy_Streeter TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you, Bill !!! I was thinking water. I've never done it. Got to get my thinking cap on. :question:
     
  16. Fishplate

    Fishplate TrainBoard Supporter

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    Besides sketches and CAD renderings, another way to help visualize a scene is to make a miniature mockup using modelling clay. A model of a model, if you will. I think John Allen used this method from time to time; so did the Model Railroader staff when they planned their famous Clinchfield layout.
     
  17. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

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    Model of a model
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Cardboard mockup of planned export terminal grain elevator building, with PVC tubing silos, PHOTO of PVC tubing silos on background, other elements drawn in on Photoshop
    [​IMG]

    General "mass" of beachfront amusement district mocked up using uncompleted models, appropriately size boxes, cardboard mockups, old "junk table bargain" built-up models etc.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2012
  18. r_i_straw

    r_i_straw Mostly N Scale Staff Member

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    Here are some early shots of my first NTRAK modules with wood blocks and cardboard box mock ups of many structures.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

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    And when I used to work at a TV station, I used their 3D "Laser ray-tracing" Computer Generated Imagery to build 3D mathematical models of layout I am now building...

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Kenneth L. Anthony

    Kenneth L. Anthony TrainBoard Member

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    Another way to visualize: scan unbuild kit parts, colorize and modify in Photoshop.

    Galveston baggage room
    [​IMG]

    Victoria Falls hotel kitbash [​IMG]

    Victorian store rendering from parts of 2 Pola machine shop/ or Model Power General Electric
    [​IMG]

    Peanut Butter warehouse from DPM Goodnight Mattress
    [​IMG]
    prototype: http://www.trainboard.com/railimages/data/542/pnuttracks.jpg
     

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