Bill Henderson begins creating the backdrop for his layouts by painting the sky blue. Cumulus clouds are made with white spray paint. For thicker clouds he sprays up close, for thinner clouds he sprays farther away. He adds shadow underneath to give them depth with a gray spray paint.
For the landscape, he uses collected photos from magazines or calendars. He simply cuts off the sky and applies it to the backdrop with glue. Photos with similar images and matching colors are used to complete the background. The foreground scenery is blended right up to the photos, extending the middle ground to the background with poly fiber. For his layout’s structures, he finds images from old or new hobby magazines that would be appropriate for the location.
Henderson is able to run a double loop double oval layout without unloading any of his cars. This is possible because one car exits one scene and appears in another in an appropriate location where it makes sense for loading. Empties are pushed in to be filled at the coal mine, and empties are pushed out after being dumped at the power plant.
Bill started building the Coal Belt model railroad in 1981 with no track plan. To begin, he used cardboard to simulate his 24 inch radius track and switches, shuffling them around to establish basic clearances. To find tips for painting backdrops or more tips for painting clouds, visit the Model Railroad Academy website.