Planning your backdrop
When building a model railroad, Christmas Village, or slot car layout, you need to put on your Hollywood set director's hat and view your scene as through it were going to be viewed in a movie.
Things to keep in mind:
Things to keep in mind:
- Perspective. What is the audiences point of view? What do you want them to see and what don't you want them to see? Example: I have three layouts. The first is an On3 that runs around my office, 12 inches from the ceiling. The audience's point of view is from below, looking up. From the vantage point, the viewer can not see the track... so I used Kato HO snap-track. No need to do lots of ballast work since no one can see the track anyway. I also have an HO layout that is at eye level (if you're 60 inches tall) and wraps completely around a 14 X 16 foot room (my barn). For this layout detail is very important up front, but gets lost towards the back. And my third layout is an N scale that is two feet below my HO layout. The view point of the audience is looking down, so the background detail isn't as important as the track and landscaping are. Get my point? Backgrounds are just that, backgrounds and should add depth to your layout, but not the reason that someone is looking at your layout.
- Focus. Next time you watch a movie, notice that the background in usually not in focus. This is intentional. Movies are shot this way so you focus on the actors, not the scenery. The same consideration should be given to your layouts. What do you want the audience to see, your trains, village, cars or the background. In my world, its my trains.
- Media. What is the backdrop printed on.
- Matte: A backdrop with a dull finish. If the backdrop is not what you want the audience to focus on, this is recommended.
- Glossy: A backdrop with a glossy photo finish. If you really want the audience to focus on your background, then you might want to use glossy photo paper. Usually, much more expensive and not good for flash photography. (can you tell I don't like glossy!)
- Vinyl: A backdrop printed on banner material. If your layout is going to be subjected to climate, such as an outdoor layout, you might want to think about having it printed on vinyl. Also, if you have a portable layout that you pack around and put up and take down often, then vinyl would be a good option as it is much more durable than paper.
- Back-lit film: There are times when you want a sunset to really shine through, then a back-lit film might be perfect. Mount the backdrop to opaque Plexiglas backing and shine light through it. Spectacular! Think, the SP Daylight, on the Southern California coast at sunset...
- Matte: Plain coated photographic paper: 230gsm (160lb) - (almost card stock) - Perfect for when you want the background to almost stand up by itself! Very stiff.
- Glossy: Photographic paper: 230gsm (160lb) - Perfect when you want the background to really stand out. (email us for special pricing.
- Vinyl: Semi-glossy, weather resistant media. - Perfect for outdoors, or portable layouts.
- Back-lit film: Very thin plastic film - Perfect for sunset/sunrise dioramas. (email us for special pricing)