I have a friend in England who wants to make some street trackage for a dockside area on his layout in N scale. The straight track work is not a problem but the turnouts will be. He would like the turnouts to be working for a passing siding/ loop but is prepared to just use dead ends.
I have suggested to him to use a representation of concrete slabs and painting his track underneath the styrene slabs to the same concrete color to hide the gaps represented as being unrealistically big but perhaps there are other techniques you are able to fill in?
Regards from Australia
If whatever he's using for concrete (i.e. sheet styrene, cardstock, etc.) is thick enough that it comes up to the top of the rails, he's going to need a pretty big gap to allow for the wheel flanges. One thing he might consider is using very thin styrene or even paper which would sit on the ties and would allow the rails to sit above the concrete. Then the concrete could be the full width of the track and there wouldn't be any gap. The rails sitting above the concrete might not be prototypical, but in N scale it might not be that noticeable. I've never modeled in N scale, so take this with a grain of salt.
ETA: I remembered that I had a piece of N scale flextrack lying around so I did this experiment. It's just typing paper. I don't think having the rails stick up above the pavement looks too bad. and the paper has some "give" to it so it won't cause a derailment. He could print a concrete texture right onto the paper.
(click to enlarge.)
To cut out the parts for the turnouts, he could set a piece of paper over the turnout, press down evenly on it to make an impression on the paper, and use that as a guide for cutting out the parts. Or if he has a flatbed scanner, scan the turnout, print it out full-size, and use that as a guide for cutting out the parts he needs.
Here's an update. I shimmed up the paper with some poster board so that it was near the top of the rails. Note at the lower left that the strip of poster board between the rails has a gap of a couple of millimeters between it and the rail. This allows the paper to give way under the flanges. I trimmed the paper slightly too narrow. Another millimeter would have allowed it to tuck under the head of the rail.
I created the concrete texture in Blender and applied it to slabs with beveled edges to simulate the seams. I put the camera directly above looking straight down and rendered an image. I weathered the image in Photoshop Elements. I think it's pretty convincing. The hilights on the edge of the seams really gives it a 3D look.
I figured out how to make cracks in the pavement. Load the texture into Photoshop, Gimp, or whatever, and add a new layer. Draw a thin crack (this would be a lot easier with a drawing tablet. Drawing with a mouse tends to make straight lines.) Apply the Emboss filter, with the height set pretty low, and the Amount set pretty high. Set the layer's merge mode to either Overlay or Hard Light. Adjust the Opacity if needed.
to quote Ken,
"Please thank that guy for me as he took so much trouble and came up with really great ideas..." so how far he goes with it is up to him... we can only do the mentoring,
So Steve... A big thanks from Australia and England for this. I would not mind trying this out myself!
If you have any further thoughts, please let us know,
Kind Regards from Australia
You're welcome, Trevor. I've been thinking about how to handle the moveable points of the turnout. The only thing I've been able to come up with is to use two pieces of paper, one between the closure rails and one between the points. Make sure there's a little bit of overlap.
A quick update. In my OP, I trimmed the center piece a bit too narrow so I gave it another try. A perfect fit allows the paper to stay in place without any shimming. Pressing against the web of the rail is enough to hold it in place. I also updated the texture. I downloaded some concrete textures and used them to enhance the original texture that I made in Blender. I loaded the concrete photos into new layers and used various merge modes (Overlay, Hard Light, and Luminance.) You may need to adjust the Levels and Opacity of these layers to keep everything within the same tonal range. I also used the Emboss filter to paint in some chips along the edges of the center piece.
I have forwarded the automated email to Ken in England but you have gone above and beyond the call ... in fact you remind me of me!!!
All joking aside Thanks mate, your efforts are appreciated,
Regards from Australia,