Book Reviews ‘Dja no wod id iz yet?’

As modellers, many of us have analogue reference sources as well as using ‘tinterweb’. I frequently head for the bookshelf before a web search, and the thought occurred to me there are a few tomes which I have that may not have ‘normal’ exposure so to speak, but may be useful or of interest to others. This is the first of a few that I’ll put up and see how they go.

Painting Backdrops For Your Model Railroad
Mike Danneman Card Cover 79 Pages 200 colour illustrations
Kalmbach Books ISBN 978-0-89024-705-1 $18.95

Kalmbach Books is a major American publisher, part of their stable includes the well regarded Model Railroader magazine, so they have a well established reputation for high quality books and magazines. Sometimes the UK modelling scene is a touch introverted and focuses on home grown products. Whilst that is good in many ways, it is always useful to have a look at what goes on in other regions, as many techniques and ideas are equally viable in a British scenario.

Mike Danneman is clearly a talented artist, in this well illustrated and easy to follow guide, he takes the reader through the design and building of a backdrop as well as the physical painting of the scene itself. Before getting into the actual ‘work’ of the book the author discusses tools and tips that will make the painting easier including an element of research. Each type of scenery, mountains or flatlands for example is covered in a step by step colour illustrated guide, with logical and well written captions.

The geographic scenery is all of North American origin, that doesn’t detract from the usefulness of the book, all you need to do is think a little laterally and transpose the type of terrain and foliage to a UK setting. A few examples would be eastern mountains relating to rolling wooded British countryside, the flat Midwest to East Anglia, and the rockies to Highland Scotland or North Wales. Not only are the geographic forms covered but how to give them depth and distance, two vital ingredients of a convincing backscene. Also covered are cloud formations, buildings and urban areas, and the blending of the 3D and “D element where the backscene and the model meet. There is a brief look at digital imaging too, highlighting some of the advantages and disadvantages of the medium for backscene production.

This is a well produced illustrated and written guide, the techniques are relevant for the UK modeller, and if you want to paint your own backscenes to help give your layout a unique impact, this is a book worthy of consideration.

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