Making a scene on the back of Canute Road Quay or simply how I have done the backscene

I have spoken before in a view from the line post about my views on the need for a backscene on a layout. Even simple a plain blue or grey painted back board is better that nothing. A good backscene helps create impression of depth and finishes the overall illusion that we are trying to create with a layout. The style of presentation, on Canute Road Quay as I have utilised an excellent laser cut Tim Horn baseboard, the back and sides are an integral part of the overall baseboard module.

On Fisherton Sarum, as can be seen on many of the images on this blog, I am indebted to fellow High Wycombe and District MRS member Ron North who superbly hand painted my Salisbury based backscene. On Canute Road Quay, being a bit of an industrial dockside scene, I thought an grayish overcast sky would give a simple effect and not draw the eye too much from the layout itself. I therefore opted to use a photographic overcast grey sky from Photo ID backscene from Art Printers.

A view of the backscene looking towards to the RH corner. The engine shed in the rear corner is only half complete at the moment with no roof or inside wall in place.

I opted for their Premium range of Photo ID backscenes that are printed on tough Polypropylene that are stated as being waterproof,  scratch and tear resistant. They are self-adhesive, which is how I have affixed them to the primed plywood rear and sides of the layout;  but can be used without removing the backing film and applied using a non-aqueous glue if required. This has on the whole been a success, although the self adhesive backing was not quite a strong as perhaps I would have liked, but time will tell.

A view of the backscene looking to the LH corner. the still to be completed ground cover is evident

On the rear right hand corner of the layout I have allowed for the backscene to curve slight rather than be an 90 degree corner to help trick the eye to not seeing a sharp corner but on the rear left hand corner due to the proximity of the high low relief warehouse building, and due to the length of the supplied Photo ID backscene I have simply left a 90 degree corner as it is less noticeable.

Although the Photo ID Sky backscene itself is just I was looking for above the mix of low relief buildings (mainly Bachman Scenecraft) , that are also positioned to form part of the backscene, it would not look right on its own in the gap between the buildings where the roadway supposedly heads off the scene.
This is due to the fact that in reality at such a location you would not simply see the sky finishing at the near horizon. I therefore initially wanted to fill the gap with a scene of a suitable warehouse style building in the near distance.
However, I was not able to find a suitable photograph of any warehouses that were taken in the right period, most images I was able find were of old warehouse as they appear now, either  to dilapidated, renovated, changed use such as apartments and or with modern items in the scene such as street furniture etc.

The original terraced houses Black and White image before manipulation in Photoshop

I did manage instead to locate an old black and white image of a row of terrace houses that I could manipulate within Adobe Photoshop to fill the gap and meet my needs, in fact since the addition of the low relief public house a row of terraced houses fit into the overall scene quite nicely.

The final image shaped and coloured before printing

The first step was to reshape slightly to both fill the gap and give the perspective I wanted; and secondly to re-colour the image including the brickwork, slates, chimney pots and windows but leaving the colours slightly muted as if being viewed from a distance.

The final image cutout in place on the layout next to the low relief public house

The path and roadway have been matched as close as possible to be the same colours as applied to pathway and road on the layout itself. This was then printed onto art quality paper and carefully cut out before it will be finally affixed (as I have not yet permanently affixed it yet whilst I finish some of the scenic groundwork) to in the gap directly onto the sky backscene.

An overview of the Backscene on Canute Road Quay as it stands at the time of this post. It still requires the ground cover to be completed

Details of the LED lighting I have used on Canute Road Quay will be the subject of a future post, as I am still experimenting with defusing the lighting slightly to enhance the overall slightly drab, overcast visual effect I ultimately want. The level of brightness at the moment is good for working under, in the photographs it should be noted the backscene appears slightly more bluish than in reality it is to eye, so watch this space for more progress.

4 thoughts on “Making a scene on the back of Canute Road Quay or simply how I have done the backscene”

  1. An interesting post. Backscenes are so important to give authenticity. It’s a shame that photos taken at exhibitions often include someone’s arm. Maybe some sort of portable backscene could be employed?

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