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Painting clouds

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Painting clouds
Posted by corsair7 on Friday, September 12, 2008 10:41 AM

I know this has been discussed before, but are some of the best methods for doing this believably in N-Scale?

Irv

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Posted by ndbprr on Friday, September 12, 2008 1:07 PM
Clouds are clouds regardless of scale.  No matter what size you make they will be fine.  The way I do it is part traditional part non traditional.  Paint a 2' wide area with horizontal brush strokes (4" brush) with sky blue from the top and antique white from the bottom and blend them so each color goes from 100% to 0%.  Don't overbursh it.  While still wet take the brush with just a little white and scrub in a cloud with circular motions.  Then scrub in a little gray on the bottom to represent the shadow caused by the cloud blocking the sun.  Brush the gray side to side to create the flat bottom on he cloud.  It takes about the same amount of time to do a 2' area as it did to type this.  Develop your techniques on the side of cardboard boxes.  Within two or three youwill be ready to tackle your backdrop.  
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Posted by CSXDixieLine on Friday, September 12, 2008 1:16 PM

Someone just bumped this thread the other day:

http://cs.trains.com/forums/1/1530405/ShowPost.aspx#1530405

It shows a backdrop with some of the best looking clouds I have ever seen before. I usually do not like clouds on a painted backdrop because they usually seem to not be quite right, and they seem to be way beyond my ability. However, after looking at that thread, I am going to give it a shot (after lots of practice first on scrap Masonite!). Jamie

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Posted by BATMAN on Friday, September 12, 2008 2:32 PM
This was my first attempt. I just did them freehand with krylon and I am happy with the way they turned out. The only suggestion I can make is paint them small as it is easier to make small clouds larger than it is to make big clouds smaller. The blue sky is Horizon Haze from Home Depot.

Brent







Brent

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Posted by mikelhh on Saturday, September 13, 2008 5:51 PM

 These were done with acrylics and brushes.  I like to keep the edges really soft so the clouds don't distract. With fast-drying acrylics it's important to have a very fine misting sprayer to keep the paint wet so you can blend edges. For clouds I often use my fingers to blend them into the sky.[not that you want paint all over you - wash off ASAP]

 You'll get better blended edges if you hold the brush perpendicular to the surface of the board, and use just the end of the bristles. A light touch and soft brush required. Try to brush  to the paint surface rather than through it.

 I did these  backscenes for my Dad's layout

 

 and placed on my layout to see how it works.  

Broke my chimneys getting it in there.

 

 Mike

Modelling the UK in 00, and New England - MEC, B&M, D&H and Guilford - in H0

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Posted by loathar on Sunday, September 14, 2008 1:51 PM

I downloaded a bunch of cloud pictures off the web and printed them out in the appropriate size. (fast B&W printing to save ink.) Printed them on some card stock and cut them out with an Xacto to make templates. Used $1/can flat white and grey spray paint. A little grey along the bottom of the template and rest with shots of white.

I have ZERO artistic talent. This method is real EZ to use. I need to practice blending them together though. I WISH I had the art talent that Jacon12 and Mikelhh have! Their's are GREAT!

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Posted by CSXDixieLine on Sunday, September 14, 2008 1:59 PM
Loathar, Your clouds also look superb! Can anyone sher the basic technique for using the template method? I always thought you cutout the template, held it about 1/2" in front of the backdrop and then shot the spray paint through it. But I have also read sometimes you want to shoot at an upwards angle, sometimes downwards--any clarification on this? Good thing is I have beaucoup spare pieces of Masonite to practice on. Jamie
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Posted by loathar on Sunday, September 14, 2008 2:09 PM
About a 1/2" away worked out well for me. Spraying at up and down angles helps keep from getting a sharp edge on your clouds too.(watch for unwanted over spray) Just practice on some scrap card board or something. You'll be amazed at how EZ it really is. An airbrush with craft paint works too if you don't want all the fumes and over spray. You can even draw your own cloud templates free hand if you want. I DO recommend using card stock instead of copy paper.
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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 7:50 AM

It may sound obvious but practicing on cardboard or paper before attacking your backdrop makes sense.  I think the big thing to avoid is a making your cloud with sharp hard edges; I have seen clouds that looks like bird splat on a blue rug and it just is not realistic. 

 

The various examples given above are much superior to that.

For my own sky I wanted clouds but not puffy clouds, rather the streaky kind of sky known as cirrus clouds.  I find them easier to make believable although I may have to change my mind after seeing how nice the clouds other guys have done can look.

Here is a prototype photo:

 http://www.cruising.sailingcourse.com/weather.htm

Dave Nelson

 

 

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Posted by corsair7 on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 8:55 AM

I wish I had read this last week.

This past Sunday I got ambitious and decided to paint some clouds on the walls of the train room. I used Glidden white ceiling paint and a 1 1/2 inch sponge brush to stiple the wall while turning the brush itself in circles. It worked in some places but but not in others. It also trid to darken the bottoms of the clouds the show th shadows. Some of the clouds came out nicely but on two walls I need to do more work to ake them look better. I'll the same stipling technigue I used on Sunday but with a bristle brush this time. I'll also try using some of my Tamiya hobby accrylics to see waht I can do about imroving the clouds I've already put on the wall.

I am not interested in producing perfect clouds because I don't want the sky attracting attention away from my trains. I just want them to suggest to the viewers imaginations that the trains are running in the real world.

Irv

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Posted by grayfox1119 on Wednesday, September 17, 2008 9:41 AM
You guys have done some great work with your clouds, very impressive !!! For the new guys, Home Depot has a Cloud kit, it comes with a video to show you how to do it, it sells for about $25, and comes with brushed, and supplies except for paint. It is in the paint isle ( surprise ).
Dick If you do what you always did, you'll get what you always got!! Learn from the mistakes of others, trust me........you can't live long enough to make all the mistakes yourself, I tried !! Picture album at :http://www.railimages.com/gallery/dickjubinville Picture album at:http://community.webshots.com/user/dickj19 local weather www.weatherlink.com/user/grayfox1119
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Posted by dknelson on Thursday, September 18, 2008 8:17 AM

This is slightly, but not totally, off topic.  My dentist has in his office the usual flourescent light fixtures in a suspended ceiling.  But the plastic sheet panel covering the light tubes is, instead of clear or frosted, painted to look like a light blue sky with nice clouds.  It may even be a silk screened photograph.  The effect is fairly relaxing as you sit back and stare at a sunny blue sky.  The sound of drilling in the next room somewhat ruins the effect but that cannot be helped. 

The thought strucke me that not only could this idea be used for the ceiling of a train room, but I wonder about a backdrop of these sheets with lighting behind them so you would have a luminescent sky as a backdrop. 

They come in 2x4 foot and 2x2 foot panels.   

This website has the kind of plastic panels I am talking about:

http://www.fluorescentgallery.com/page/skies

Dave Nelson

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Posted by ChrisNH on Wednesday, September 24, 2008 12:18 PM

I tried the method I read about in David Popp's book where I used sprayed a line of gray then sprayed little puffs of white above and over it. It makes a reasonable effect although on my next backdrop I will have smaller clouds lower to the horizon and more into the haze. The haze was just white airbrushed on, heavier on the bottom and fading out about 2/3 the way up.

You can take this photo as evidence for or against the method!

Chris

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Posted by Jumijo on Saturday, September 27, 2008 7:50 AM

Mike,

Those background paintings are breathtaking! Truly wonderful!

Jim

 

 

 mikelhh wrote:

 These were done with acrylics and brushes.  I like to keep the edges really soft so the clouds don't distract. With fast-drying acrylics it's important to have a very fine misting sprayer to keep the paint wet so you can blend edges. For clouds I often use my fingers to blend them into the sky.[not that you want paint all over you - wash off ASAP]

 You'll get better blended edges if you hold the brush perpendicular to the surface of the board, and use just the end of the bristles. A light touch and soft brush required. Try to brush  to the paint surface rather than through it.

 I did these  backscenes for my Dad's layout

 

 and placed on my layout to see how it works.  

Broke my chimneys getting it in there.

 

 Mike

Modeling the Baltimore waterfront in HO scale

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Posted by kcole4001 on Saturday, September 27, 2008 8:27 AM

Some really nice work here, and also in the other thread.

Luckily, my wife has taken interest and agreed to do my backdrops. She has some artistic talent IMO, and I think she's best at landscape painting, fortunately. Way better than I am, for sure.

The simpler backdrops are nice, and still quite effective, but artist's work, like mikelhh's for example, take it to another level! Beautiful work.

Please keep posting examples, guys.

"The mess and the magic Triumphant and tragic A mechanized world out of hand" Kevin
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Posted by loathar on Saturday, September 27, 2008 10:55 AM
 kcole4001 wrote:

 

 but artist's work, like mikelhh's for example, take it to another level! Beautiful work.

Yep. Makes me want to spit on mine.Sigh [sigh]

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Posted by mikelhh on Saturday, September 27, 2008 5:33 PM

  Thanks fellas for the comments.  Painting is my only strong suit. When it comes to tracklaying, layout design, benchwork, electrics [aaaarrrgghhh] etc  you have it all over me!

 Anyway I thought I might post a couple of step by step pics of how I go about it. Maybe someone will find it helpful.

 

 My materials - cheap brushes, cheapish tube acrylics and a very fine mist sprayer [old pump action air freshener]

 

 Blue high sky [blue + white] and paler and warmer low sky about to be blended.

 For the low sky I started with a big puddle of white [acrylic primer works well] and carefully added tiny amounts of yellow and red to it.

 

 

 If the blue has dried before you're ready to blend the two, you give it a good spray of clean water with the mist sprayer. I can't get by without it when using acrylics.  Blend the two together with a soft big brush

 

 Mix up some slightly stronger warm colour and add vague clouds down low, with maybe some whiter edges

 

 Blend the edges away, using a soft brush - the one I used for this job was about 1 inch wide - and using more fine mist if needed. Fingers do a good job too, but as I said earlier, wash ASAP.

 Last job on the sky was to reintroduce some blue back into the clouds. This helps them to settle down into the sky because they share the same colour.

 

 Seeing as this thread is about sky I'll stop there. For what it's worth, when I get around to painting my backscene for my New England layout I might post a step by step in case someone finds it useful.

 

 Mike

Modelling the UK in 00, and New England - MEC, B&M, D&H and Guilford - in H0

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Posted by jacon12 on Saturday, September 27, 2008 9:10 PM

 Mike, that's some great work and it's always helpful when 'how to' pictures are included.

Thanks for taking the time to do that!

Jarrell

 

 

 


 

 HO Scale DCC Modeler of 1950, give or take 30 years.
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Posted by CSXDixieLine on Sunday, September 28, 2008 8:01 AM
Mike, Thank you for the very informative post showing the step-by-step approach you used. I am currently struggling between the "brush & blend" and "roll & airbrush" methods of creating a faded sky backdrop, and your post has caused me to give more consideration to the former method that you used. Jamie
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Posted by Jumijo on Sunday, September 28, 2008 1:08 PM

Thanks for the tutorial, Mike! I've bookmarked this thread for reference.

Jim

Modeling the Baltimore waterfront in HO scale

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Posted by jxtrrx on Sunday, September 28, 2008 6:10 PM

What great cloud examples on this thread!

One thing I might add -- if you're not artistic (like me), don't let it scare you off.  Work from a picture of some simple sky shots, and grab a brush or spray can, and JUST DO IT.  I was astounded when I finished that it didn't come out half bad -- and if it does, paint over 'em with your blue and JUST DO IT again.  So much of this hobby comes down to just getting in there and getting your hands dirty.

-Jack My shareware model railroad inventory software: http://www.yardofficesoftware.com My layout photos: http://s8.photobucket.com/albums/a33/jxtrrx/JacksLayout/
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Posted by GARYIG on Thursday, October 2, 2008 9:46 PM

I use regular whit paper and rip the bottom to look like clouds.  I then keep the template about 2" away for bacdrop and spry 1.00 white flat spry paint for, yes Walmart.   Fip th template over and spry a bit under the cloud to create depth.

100_0577.jpg CLOUDS CLOSE UP image by GIIG21

Gary Iglesias, Hialeah, FL http://photobucket.com/GARYS_TOWN
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Posted by kcole4001 on Saturday, October 4, 2008 9:05 AM
 loathar wrote:
 kcole4001 wrote:

 

 but artist's work, like mikelhh's for example, take it to another level! Beautiful work.

Yep. Makes me want to spit on mine.Sigh [sigh]

Yours look pretty darn good, too! I certainly didn't mean to knock anyone's work, just pointing out that professional-level artists will be able to outshine the rest of us easily. I have next to zero artistic talent, all I can do is try to copy someone else's technique until I can achieve an 'OK' result. Blush [:I]

The variety of approaches is very interesting, all do seem to have merit.

The step by step how-to's are very insightful, so keep 'em coming.

"The mess and the magic Triumphant and tragic A mechanized world out of hand" Kevin
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Posted by spectratone on Saturday, October 4, 2008 10:05 AM

Just like others have said on this thread and subject of clouds. Don,t be afraid to try even if you can,t draw a stick figure. When I first tried to draw a cloud it was awful. I tried brush, sponge, spray can, stencils, air brush, you name it. my combination of colors were wrong as well as shapes and sizes. I studied the clouds when ever we had some out here in the desert to look at. I bought a few art books and read everything I could find on how to make clouds. I found that whats behind your clouds is very important. Just keep practicing and it will come to you.

This is where I am now. This backdrop only has 3 colors in it . blue, off white, and white. All done with brushes. I am not an artist, I paint houses for a living. all I did was practice. 

glenn

 

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