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GmanJeff Feb 24, 2018

  1. GmanJeff

    GmanJeff TrainBoard Member

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    I am intrigued by Z scale and am thinking of trying to build a small layout, having no meaningful prior experience with scenery. The Woodland Scenics SubTerrain system seems to be an approach which might not be too difficult and yet which might give me a greater sense of engagement and accomplishment than buying a preformed layout base. My thinking is that I'd acquire the SubTerrain Manual for background reading and info, then perhaps attempt their N scale scenery kit which makes a small diorama. I hope that building the kit would give me the background and practice needed to have a reasonable chance at successfully later building a complete smaller layout. Or, it might let me know that I lack the patience and motor skills to go further, before I make any additional investment!

    Has anyone without prior modelling experience taken this approach and, if so, would you recommend it?
     
    mrnosal, Joe Lovett and Hardcoaler like this.
  2. RBrodzinsky

    RBrodzinsky Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Welcome to TrainBoard! What you are proposing is almost exactly what I did 10 years ago when contemplating getting into this hobby: I built the WS scenery kit diorama. I was absolutely terrified of it, since I always “knew” that I had zero artistic abilities. Well, I was flabbergasted at how easy it all came together, and I still use that diorama for photo ops when there is nice sunshine.

    [​IMG]

    Good luck!
     
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  3. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Jeff, I have been modeling since 1947, but never did any organized or meaningful scenery until 10 years ago with our new home. I had been buying Kalmbach books on just about everything from bridge building to almost every scenery technique available. Then with the new house came a new train room and little patches of scenery just seem to evolve. Note, I said "little" patches of scenery. Never start big. Do a little scene just to learn what works and satisfies you. I guess I have ripped out about one half the scenery I put in because I didn't look right. One time my son said "Dad, those trees look like little balloons on sticks". Oops, they sure did. Scenery is an experiment, and if it gives you pleasure, that's all that counts. Just enjoy what you're doing.
     
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  4. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I realize you are asking about Scenery, but as a side note. If you can afford it Z scale is very lovely. But you can do much more with your money in another scale.

    Don't limit yourself to Woodland scenics. There are other brands making some amazing stuff. I sometimes use this site as a reference for different products: https://www.walthers.com/products/layout/scenery/#
     
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  5. GmanJeff

    GmanJeff TrainBoard Member

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    Thanks, all. I appreciate the responses. Rick, encouraged by your experience I did go ahead and buy the WS diorama kit. It should arrive this week. I take Hank's point about not undertaking too much at once, and will certainly look at products like those Geeky suggested. The initial appeal of the WS solution is the use of extruded foam to keep weight down, especially the base for a smaller layout. I have seen discussions of just buying the foam at home improvement stores, too. Baby steps!
     
  6. emaley

    emaley TrainBoard Supporter

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    Youtube has a video series about building this kit. Have a look. I think some practice is a great idea. I built a small Z scale layout so I could try some ideas. Now I am also addicted to Z scale in addition to N. Search these forums for more info. Lots of outstanding modelers here.

    Trey
     
  7. GmanJeff

    GmanJeff TrainBoard Member

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    I did find that video, and may well refer to it while seeing what I can do with the kit once it arrives - thanks!
     
  8. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    The funny thing about Foam scenery is that a lot of people who want really rocky mountains end up loading it with plaster rock castings and basically covering everything with plaster anyway.

    Everyone will have their own opinion, but after having done both foam and old school hardshell plaster scenery, I now prefer the older methods. Or, I may do a bit of both depending on the effect I want.
     
  9. mrnosal

    mrnosal TrainBoard Member

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    Go for it :)

    I built a diorama for my first attempt at scenery using the Woodland Scenics Subterrain Risers. Z-scale lets you get a lot in a tiny space. This diorama is about 12" x 20" in size, weighs practically nothing, fits on a desk, and is easy to access from any angle. You can use small packets of scenery material, plus sticks, twigs, roots and bark from your garden. I used cheap acrylics bought on sale at the craft store, white glue, lightweight spackle and 'popcorn ceiling' spackle. Base is a leftover piece of 1" pink polystyrene foam.

    [​IMG]

    These are all scenes of the same diorama:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Because the diorama is so small, you can be fearless about ripping things up and redoing them if they didn't look the way you wanted. You can get a lot of modeling satisfaction/experience in a little tiny space.

    Cheers!
    Mike
     
  10. GmanJeff

    GmanJeff TrainBoard Member

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    Mike, that's impressive! Thanks for the encouragement, although I am profoundly skeptical that I will ever be creative and capable enough to do anything similar. Still a journey of a thousand miles....!
     
  11. mrnosal

    mrnosal TrainBoard Member

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    Just remember, "ground cover" works great at covering up any mistakes. Z-scale dioramas are small enough that even if the whole things turns out to be not to your liking, it is easy to 'start over' since you haven't invested large amounts of material. Trees can be ripped up and planted on another diorama quite easily. Find photos of a scene you'd like to reproduce (like a guardhouse and road crossing) and then work towards that, or even just try to make it "look like the photo on the box".

    Cheers!
    Mike
     
  12. traingeekboy

    traingeekboy TrainBoard Member

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    I agree with what Mrnosal says.

    I've found that scenery is something you end up applying in layers. You do your first layer, or session, and then want to adjust it, so you put on more. You keep doing it until it feels right.
     

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