Lower Illinois Association of Railroaders



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It's in the Details

Posted by L.I.A.R. on October 10, 2012 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)

By Steven Hamilton

Many of you have read about the fabulous Franklin & South Manchester built by George Sellios. Until recently, George's layout was extremely detailed, to the point of being "over detailed". Now, some might say I'm crazy; we want our scale layouts and trains to be as detailed as possible. Rightly so, details do in fact bring our model railroads alive, only up to a certain degree, though.

You see, the "real world" is want we as model railroaders try to recreate on our layouts, but if we were to model a town or industrial area exactly how it appears in real life, your eye would be able to see too much detail on the layout at one time. Your 1:1 scale eye is "out of scale" on a 1:87th HO layout.

Here's a test. Drive into town near a railroad crossing. Standing in one spot, count how many street signs you can see? How many telephone poles can you see? Dogs, cats, cars, garbage cans, trees. etc. Now stand next to your layout, and count how many of the same objects you can see from one spot. Probably more than when you were in town near the railroad crossing. If so, then your eyes can see more detail at one time on the layout than what you are used to seeing in real life.

From what I've read in the magazines, George, and other well-known modelers have also came to this conclusion. So what do you do about it? You have all these great ideas of how you want your layout and trains to be detailed. Well, two options: reduce the amount of detail, or create view blocks to keep our eyes from wandering. Tall buildings, mountains, divider boards, bridges, and walls help to keep the viewer looking at one area of detail at a time. Kind of like those shields they have a race horses, but instead of asking your guests to wear a funning hat, you build those shields into your scenery.

Having many smaller areas detailed the same amount you would have detailed a single larger area may be more realistic, and easier to finish one section at a time.