Well, the most
obvious change is the paint job. I liked the look of white
and red (like on old wood gas stations- so I decided to give it
a shot. Changing the colors of a kit is one of the easiest
ways to make a kit "your own." Try it out!
I ended up
finishing most of the model and really liking the embankment
behind the grill and the billboard. If I added track
though the ballast would likely eliminate the change of
elevation. I used to do a lot of track walking and usually
there is a drainage ditch between the tracks and whatever is
beside the right of way. So, I added another inch and half
strip to the base. Thus I ended up with my "hobo highway."
Changes in elevation almost always add a lot to a model.
This is especially true in urban modeling where things can get
very flat and thus a little boring. Try adding anything
you can think of to add a little depth. This, by the way,
brings the finished base to 10" x 11.5".
The patches in the
street were a last minute fix (the best effects usually come by
accident!). I touched the street and left some
fingerprints in the charcoal I used for weathering. So, I
just painted over the prints with Floquil's Aged Concrete and
then very lightly re-weathered the patches.
You may have
noticed I used a steel fence instead of the wooden fence
supplied for the railing by the parking lot. Variation is
a good thing. I figured since I already had a wood fence
in back, I'd switch things up a bit. It is by Pola.
The fence in the back is board-by-board and I originally thought
of using a Central Valley plastic fence to save time. I'm
glad I didn't! The fence came out very nice and with a
little weathering and a poster here and there ended up looking
The billboard was
tough (for me)- take your time.... I switched the sign for
an old FSM sign I had. I very lightly sanded the
front of the sign with 440 grit wet/dry sandpaper to give a
faded look. There are many many signs on the diorama and
all have been sanded very thin on the back and then lightly on
addition was another change from the kit. After reading
through the directions I was a little skeptical about having
gaps around the window after mounting it backwards. So, I
put in in like a regular window and since I don't like decals I
scrapped the EAT decal and went with some old signs and posters.
There are two Ringling Bros. posters- a new one over the old
The lot was
supposed to be gravel- I went with real dirt. I then added
chalks and a little dry brushing to get some variation. I
didn't want to put weeds over the whole wall to hide the seam,
so I added some small rocks and old newspapers. Most of
the foliage is Woodland Scenics. I mainly used two colors,
but I mixed them together first and after they were glued down I
hit them with dabs of black alcohol and ink stain.
For the rest of the diorama two grades of dirt were used: a very
fine powder and a rocky blend. (Sounds like coffee huh?) There
are little patches of grass that are Sweetwater products.
I really like them.
The track is Code
100 flex with random ties cut off for variation (there's that
variation thing again!). The track is sprayed with rail
brown then a light coat of flat black. Then a few ties are
painted with oak and driftwood stains. When the ballast is
down I added some black inside the rails and a light stain of
rust on the outside of the track. I covered the nail heads with
scraps of wood or old newspapers (this helps with realism a lot;
those nails just don't fit in!)
I added some extra
castings here and there, especially around the trash corral.
There's also a good buildup of old boards, a tire and some misc.
junk. There were additional details that were meant for
the back, but because of my drainage ditch I kept them and
instead used some old crates and pallets and other junk.
The roof has a lot of patches, as it is quite old. The
patches are pieces of the roofing paper cut to size. A
cool detail here is to take a sewing needle or very fine pin and
make nail-hole marks around the edges of your patches.
This looks great!
weathered by drybrushing with white paint. The main
building was hit with a very light stain of black india
ink/alcohol mix. I learned quickly (luckily on a piece of
scrapwood- always test first!) that my usual ink stain was too
dark on white paint. So I thinned it out a lot.
Floquil Rust was used in a lot of places as well as weathering
One other big
change was in the carving of the sidewalk. I thought the
squares were too big in the plans, so I made my own smaller
squares. I then used a dull x-acto knife to carve in lots
Here is an
invaluable tip: if you want a figure inside, which I
assume you will, put him in before finishing the diorama!
Don't ask. We'll just say it took a lot of effort to get
Lou in there after I was done with everything else!
Another tip is to read the instructions very carefully when you
add the kitchen wall inside. It needs to be just right to
line up the roof section above it. I'd recommend test
fitting the roof piece over the kitchen wall before
gluing the wall in.
pictures were taken on my lunch break (i.e.: big rush!). I
set the diorama up outdoors and put a simple backdrop behind it.
The natural sunlight really adds a lot to model photography!
The pics were taken on a Nikon Coolpix 995. Any retouching
was done in Paint Shop Pro 7.2. It took about a week to
get a sunny day (darn winter weather.)