The backscene of any layout can be a bit of a make or break for me. Get it right and it really brings out a layout and quite often will convey both a sense of placement and a mood. Get it wrong and its jars and distracts from even the best constructed and composed layout.

Its for that reason Ive been internalising what to do with the backscene on North Ballachulish ever since I started building the layout. There is a choice here:

1 Don’t bother with anything and have the layout open at the back.

2: Put a backscene up but leave it in neutral sky blue

3: Stitch together a few panoramic photographs of the area courtesy of Photoshop and get it printed to put at the back.

4: Paint your own.

1 to me is never really an option, the view of assembled beer bellies at the back of the layout only conveys the operating team like a drink and is a real distraction. Now on Spotland bridge I had a bit of a mix of bought backscenes (buildings) cut out and pasted onto a backscene with the sky and moorland painted by Mrs Cooper. Newhey I left plain, the prospect of painting Crompton Moor with Coral Mill looming large beyond the goods shed was far to much t even contemplate. A photograph was never an option as the mill was derelict and actually demolished before I got to the backscene stage.

Photographs as well especially over a large area can be a tad too stark as well, again the fine detail can distract and to me, the distance is quite often too sharp. For the size I need for North B, pixelation could also be a problem (as can be the expense!). So the choice comes down to numbers 2 or 4.

At Railex we went out with a plain blue backscene.

It looks OK but I’m not sure it helps with the sense of placement or mood. As Phil said at the show, what we need a sheet of opaque polythene over the front or a smoke machine, working shower heads on the lighting pelmets and a plague of midges to really convey that placement and mood. Now I’m not going to those lengths but whilst the plain backscene works, with the caveats above, its a long time since I painted any landscape. Locos, coaches, wagons, houses and churches (and aircraft) etc yes but not a landscape.

So today, having just airbrushed the underside of the Phantom, I thought I’d have a try at a bit of watercolour. I’ve a rough idea of the topography of the other side of Loch Linnie  below Corran from North Ballchulish, and as this was more of a test if I actually could paint something, I quickly sketched in some outlines of coast and mountains and set to using a very limited palette of blues greens browns and yellow without too much reference to photos, it was about could I do it rather than accuracy at this point.


Its rough and ready,  and it only took me 10 -15 minutes to do, but I think it may well work – putting it to the back of the crated layout and taking a pic through has sort of convinced me but I do suspect I will still be procrastinating about it by the time we go to Skipton show on 11/12 August.