Do You Model and Detail Areas of Your Layout That No One Can See?

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Greg@mnrr

Section Hand
#1
As I ballasted the mine tracks and do some scenery around the mine spur tracks and around the mine structure, this work required me to work from a access point that many people look at and don't realize that the opening is approximately 24 inches square. I feel like a ground squirrel when I'm standing in this access point and working on the layout. When I was ballasting the track I realized that who will see this area, well no body will, so why do all the extra work?

The mine is at eye level for most people and taller landscaping will hide a lot of the unfinished portions of this part of the layout behind the layout.

Looking at the layout from the rear instead from the front has the layout take on an entirely different perspective. One gets to see raw plaster, wire supports, wiring, wood bracing and who knows what else.

Why does the unfinished areas bother me? Our layouts are like a theater set and like a theater sets the audience sees only what the show producer or layout owner wants the audience to see.

I have heard that many famous modelers do not finish the backsides of their layouts since no one will see it. Like tall buildings on a well known layout the rear or backsides of the buildings is plywood! Take the cab rides where the video camera takes us into tunnels and we see all the cardboard strips, wire mesh and unballasted track in the tunnel that's normally hidden from view.

Tomorrow, I'll work to finish ballasting the hidden track and do some more landscaping and forget about the other unfinished areas.

My question is "Do you have unfinished or hidden areas on your layout or track that isn't ballasted because no one can see it?"

Thanks.

Greg
 

santafewillie

Well-Known Member
#3
My question is "Do you have unfinished or hidden areas on your layout or track that isn't ballasted because no one can see it?"
First of all, my layout is unfinished. That being said, I fully intend to have scenery/ballast behind structures etc, that won't normally be seen. I already have some. I also finish and detail the backsides of buildings even if they cannot be seen. To me it's more than just a stage, I get great satisfaction in having areas that no one other than myself can see or know about. Structures on my layout sometimes move about if I decide that they might fit or look better somewhere other than where they started. If I have detailed the "hidden" sides, this becomes easier.
I have seen many "engineer's view" videos that inadvertently highlight unfinished areas. This to me, takes away from the whole concept of doing a video to begin with. I even have some figures in "back alleys" that normally cannot be seen unless one actually sticks their head over the front of the layout to peek behind buildings. Low buildings in front facilitate this.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#5
My question is "Do you have unfinished or hidden areas on your layout or track that isn't ballasted because no one can see it?"
Absolutely yes. There isn't enough time to do everything I need / want to do. Why waste it on something that doesn't matter. And that doesn't stop with ballasting, unfinished back sides of buildings, forests of trees with unfinished bottoms, undersides of bridges, etc.
 
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#6
When I first built my layout, I did detail areas that couldn't be seen. I did it because I wanted the flexibility of getting unique camera angles that otherwise wouldn't be visible. I also thought about mounting a camera on a train for a video tour of the layout, though I never got that far. Now that my layout is being reassembled after a move, it has suddenly become a walk-around layout with views from all sides. I'm very glad I built it the way I did.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#10
I read George Sellios' Fabulous Franklin and South Manchester Railroad. People had asked him if the insides; or, areas that no one can see are as detailed as the parts that are visible. He said he does not detail those areas and that would be a waste of effort. My philosophy has followed his in this question. Of course if it's important to the modeler that they know that these areas have the same detail, far be it from me to suggest they are wrong.
 

montanan

Whiskey Merchant
#11
I do usually detail to some extent areas that can't be seen from the front of the layout. There are not many pl;aces like that though.

Mark - I have seen so many videos of Georges F&SM and his work is incredible. I managed to the the very first section of the layout in person also. One video was a cab ride video and everything was detailed in the video, but it was not all of the way around the layout. Sure wish I had the talent to do work like his.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#12
Chet, From a structural standpoint, I make sure that the structure can stand on it's own. However, I make no attempt at detailing areas that will not be seen and use the details I might have used at the unseen locations to better detail locations that will be seen.
 
#13
I watched several videos and cab rides that showed unfinished areas of the layouts which was somewhat educational and showed what methods the layout owner used to construct his scenery by viewing the unfinished tunnel interiors or staging yards.

Greg
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#14
Since I feel that the interiors of tunnels can occasionally be seen, I do detail their interiors. They are at least closed off so even a cab ride would not show the white plaster of the mountain they penetrate.
 
#15
My question is "Do you have unfinished or hidden areas on your layout or track that isn't ballasted because no one can see it?"

Thanks.

Greg
With modern camera technology, you don't have to have anywhere that isn't visible if you don't want to. For example, a raspberry pi cam can be bought for as little as $25 plus the cost of a Pi to plug it into. And it's tiny enough to fit into most train tunnels.

As for the question, I don't have areas like that on my board, because I'm working in n-scale with 3x2' modules and it's tough to fit anything on that which wouldn't be visible from some angle.
 

NP2626

Well-Known Member
#16
Greg, Sorry, I guess I did not read your original question. By the time I read the topic of this thread, the question had morphed into only: Do you have unfinished or hidden areas on your layout, although the rest of the question was clearly visible.

As to whether my hidden trackage is ballasted, some of it is and some of it isn't. Example: In my hidden staging yard the track is not ballasted and in some of my longer tunnels, the track is not ballasted.
 
#17
I ballasted some distance trackage on the layout and the ballast mix I used looks just like the cork roadbed and from a distance one can't tell the track has been ballasted.

Greg
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
#18
So....this brings up the '100 yards rule', which is roughly where the average viewer's eyes ARE...in scale..., when standing beside the average layout and viewing the various items from on high. At 300 feet, a person's eyes are not likely to resolve individual grains of ballast. They can't detect the gouges and bumps that comprise the bark on the typical spruce/fir/pine/shag-bark hickory/elm. You'll barely be able to make out a car door handle, depending on its form factor and colour. Power lines and utility cables will go undetected unless there's that aircraft warning orange ball suspended from them mid-span. Rivets on a tender? You'll just make out long shadows made by them late in the day or early after sunrise.

So, our minds have to do a lot. When that gets overcome by detectable details, those details have to be convincing, particularly when we want to record them as images; our camera lenses will tell us facts about any given scene and camera position that we're unlikely to know just from viewing. Some people say the best way to find out how good your scene is would be to take a well-lit and well-focused image from 'eye' level...the camera is set on the layout surface. From there, you go about improving the realism. Eventually, you'll be able to do well in photo contests if that turns your crank.
 





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