Sunday, August 30, 2009

Moana 2: Backdroppin'

DB says: I wasn't going to make the same mistake I made with the Tehachapi layout backdrop's fabulous 90 degree sky joins, so decided to cove the backdrop joins (cove? sounds more like a pirate word).

I applied some quite thin styrene sheet, held in place with pins while the glue dried, before hiding the pink [pauses for Beavis and Butthead interjection] with some white paint. I'd wanted to use photo backdrops on the Sawyers Bay layout, but with that no more, and buoyed by ECMT's instamodule success, I was keen to try them here, having snapped a bunch of shots from Moana earlier in the year for such an occasion. A little careful printing produced something that looked like it might work:
Initially I felt the mountains should be taller, but after putting a loco on the track and applying an eyeball, I think it's about right. I also had to bear in mind that there will be low viewing angles involved. Skies were brutally amputated from the pics with a sharp knife blade.

In the pic below, the first layer of blue has been applied (using what may have been the prototype for the world's first paintbrush) which barely covers the white. Next time I'd just do straight blue rather than starting with neutral white as it took multiple coats to cover. As you can see, Woodland Scenics (or similar) Plastercloth hills started to form at this stage over wire netting. Best to get some of the messy stuff out of the way before the backdrop is done and the track laid.
After a couple of goes, I managed to lighten the backdrop sufficiently with thin layers of almost-drybrushed white (keeping things lighter closer to the horizon) applied with a fresh brush. I really should have a little more cyan in the sky, but after holding a vote with myself, it was agreed that I could live with this and started attaching pictures with gusto and PVA. Of course, things couldn't possibly continue to go as swimmingly as they had been :Well, its OK from a distance, but there is still quite a lot of work to be done. The problem isn't the joins or white paper edge on top of the mountains - which can be fairly easily dealt with - but in the colours, which looked fine when I was printing them out (of course), but now they look a bit red in places, a bit yellow in places. The main batch were 'developed' to a consistent formula in photoshop, but a couple weren't. I thought I got them fairly close, but they are a bit off. The 'proper' way to do it, once the printing scale was figured out, would be to stitch them all together on the computer, process the colors on that file and then get someone with a nice big printer to print the whole panorama out on one long roll of paper. Still, a worthwhile experiment I feel, and all is not lost, for tomorrow I'm going to buy a beret and a cape together with some watercolours, and then cut off my ear, as I think this can be salvaged with a little artistic daubbling. A word that I just invented.


ECMT said...

Lookin good ! I've often thought about getting a price for a printed backdrop. No doubt mega-cheap in the US compared to here.

I love the idea of "Talk like a pirate day". Not sure how a Somalian accent goes though ?

Anonymous said...

I had a quote for a print of 1200mm x 400mm at a local printer recently and it was going to cost about $200.

For this application, it would pay to get the prints processed professionally. Depending on the processing house, I believe you can specify close colour matching between prints.

I have used a program called ProPoster ( make a 1200mm x 400mm photographic backdrop printed on multiple A4 pages, with a reasonable amount of success.

Darryl said...

I printed these at home on throwaway matte A4 paper on a pretty low-end photo printer, so it was pretty cheap all in all, even taking the ink cost into account (printed at lowish quality too).

Anyway, it all came out pretty well as you will see in upcoming posts!

$200 seems pretty dear for only 1200mm - bear in mind you don't need fancy paper (I wouldn't want a glossy backdrop) or super high resolution printing. This backdrop is about 8 feet long and maybe 20-odd cm tall (I painted the sky)

That Proposter software is an interesting idea too.

Darryl said...

Somalian pirate talk is easy, something like:

"Arrrrrgh! Hand over the keys!"

Anonymous said...

Yes Darryl...I thought $200 too expensive also, which is why I persued other means !

Be careful about using non-photo paper as the colours may fade/change over a period of time, especially if exposed to bright light. Also make sure you use the same batch of paper for all sheets (...the ol' wallpaper roll rule).

Darryl said...

I used photo paper allright, but that is an interesting thought about fading. I planned to spray the whole shebang with a clear matte coat when I'm done. Maybe I'll keep an eye out for one that blocks UV.

Motorised Dandruff said...

I'm sure that we got conference posters printed at A0 size for less than $100 in downtown Wellington. however thats only about 1M long so you would need 2 to complete the job.

Darryl said...

I guess 1m would do the central part of a 4 foot module (with hills on each side). Or you cut the A0 in half to get a decent length (and a reasonable height) with only one join to worry about.