Painting the sea

So, the layout’s exhibition debut at Narrow Gauge South at Sparsholt went well, but I’ll come to that in my next post.  In the mean time let me recap what I did to get the layout ready to show.

The main job was to add some colour to the layout, after painting the backscene with a pale blue I decided to add some colour to the sea.

I’ve long admired the effects achieved by Troels Kirk on his ON30 ‘Coastline RR’ shown in the video below.

Troels describes the effects he has used to paint his entire layout in his DVD entitled ‘Realistic Color for Railroad Modeling’ which is well worth watching.  It describes how to apply natural colours and colour theory to a layout to ensure it looks as realistic as possible.  In one section Troels tuns through the colours used to paint the base for the sea, and it’s this method that I have applied.

As the baseboard had some plaster split on it and various minor spillages/overspray from other jobs I decided to coat the sea in a couple of layers of white gesso to give a uniform base to paint on top of.

The gesso was allowed to dry thoroughly before applying the acrylic colours for the sea.

Troels’ method relies on using four main colours;

Left to right - Ultramarine, Naples Yellow, Burnt Umber, Permanent Green

The basic colour for the sea is made by mixing together ultramarine, burnt umber and permanent green in roughly the proportions shown in the image below.

For deeper areas more burnt umber is added, and for shallower ones, more permanent green.

This is the 'standard' mix described above, but with more burnt umber to give an impression of deeper water.

Once the deep areas are painted on and, more importantly, whilst they are still wet, the lighter shades are gradually blended in all the way up to the coastline.

The paler colours are added and gradually mixed in whilst all wet to eventually give a gradual change from deep water to shallow.

Once the all the areas of water are covered, the shallows are added using a different mix.

This shows the proportions of naples yellow and burnt umber used to show shallow water along the coastline.

Again, whilst wet, this is mixed into the very edge of the sea to show the shallow water immediately next to walls or rocks.  In practice I found it best to mix in a little less burnt umber than in the image above, but that may be different for other people.

I applied this mix along the entire coastline, the beach, all of the rocks and the pier walls.

This is far as it has progressed, but I’m very pleased with the effect I’ve achieved using this method.  Provided all the areas you are working on are wet then it’s quiet simple to achieve good results.  Because of this I found it best to work on small areas at once for all three mixes for deep water, then middle depth, then shallow and then move on to another area and do the same.  If you try and do too large an area it won’t mix quite as well.

The next stage is to apply some acrylic gel to the surface to give it a shine, and allow stippling to represent the small waves and ripplets that form on the sea’s surface.  I’ll do another post on this and creating waves when I get to that point.

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One Response to Painting the sea

  1. Pingback: Breaking wave news… | Isle Ornsay

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