Gary Hoover has some fine looking model railroad backdrops on his Santa Fe layout. The backdrop was a challenge for Gary when he first started the layout because so many backdrops were needed that had to match the prototype. For his model railroad backdrops, he uses simple, easy to find art materials. The materials he uses includes sea sponges, acrylic paints, and spray paint for the purple of the mountains.
The first step is to consult prototype photos, decide the contour of the ridge line he may want to use, and to draw on the contour line right on the backdrop. Next he applies some wax paper above this line to section off what will be the mountains. This will act like a stencil for the spray paint in the next step. The best purple Gary has found for the mountains is Krylon Grape, or purple Rustoleum. He simply sprays this on the backdrop.
The next step for his model railroad backdrops is to draw in the basic ridgeline. He uses two thirds ultramarine blue to one third mars black and applies the dark ridge lines with a dry sponge. Dipping the sponge in the paint, he removes a lot of excess by dabbing it off on a towel or other surface. Highlights are next up. For this Gary uses half titanium white, and half neutral gray paints and applies it with the same technique. The highlights capture areas where the sun touches, while the dark spots are shadows behind them.
To add more fine details, he uses a damp sponge and with a light hand, dabbing it over the surface of the mountains. A good practice is to take a step back to assess how the mountain is progressing from afar. For more Allen Keller videos, or more on painting clouds on a model railroad backdrop, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.