Modeler of the Santa Cruz Northern model railroad, Jim Providenza believes that a good backdrop on a double deck layout is critical. On the one hand, you can operate with bare plywood against a wall and it really doesn’t matter. On the other hand, when you are trying to create an atmosphere for people, you want something that will give them a sense of depth. From his own personal taste, it also shouldn’t be so detailed that it draws attention to itself.
Jim goes on to demonstrate painting a backdrop.
Jim uses stencils from New London Industries. When you spray paint indoors you want to use a respirator. With the stencil, he will outline a hard line on the top and faded line on the bottom. The stencil can then be moved further along and connected up with other lines. Then the stencil is used to create the bottom of the cloud by turning the stencil around. When the spray paint is pulled farther away it becomes hazier. Dave Biondi is with Jim and is an artist. With the same stencil, he puts some gray paint on the bottom of the cloud. Jim adds some tan.
For the smaller cans they just use a glove and apply it from the regular nozzle. The white can, which gets a lot of use, is used with a handle that makes it easier and less messy. The next stage in painting the clouds requires titanium white paint to highlight the clouds with a paint brush. For those who aren’t an artist like Dave, Jim suggests using an old dried up sponge. Creating dimension in the clouds means highlighting some areas to bring them more forward. For more videos on creating backdrops or how to paint an inexpensive backdrop, visit the Model Railroad Academy archives.