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Modeling smoke from a smokestack

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Modeling smoke from a smokestack
Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 6:10 PM

I'm looking for any ideas beyond the obvious use of cottonballs painted gray with a needle and tiny thread threaded thru them all the way to the ceiling to give the illusion of a continuously rising column of smoke.  My location is against the backdrop so the thread idea should work well...

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by mbinsewi on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 8:39 PM

Seems like a good technique to me.  You could experiment with trying to shred the cotton as it makes it's way up.  Sorta like the technique for trees, with the spray.

Just a thought.

Mike.

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Posted by Pruitt on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 9:05 PM

Speaking only for myself, I have never seen "modeled" smoke from a smokestack look anything but toylike. Where it's been done, it looks about as realistic as the smoke from a model steam locomotive.

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Posted by davidmurray on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 9:24 PM

If you are really close to the backdrop, then you could have one cotton ball, and then smoke painted on the backdrop.

Smoke disperses quickly, so not all the way to the ceiling before dispersed completely.

David Murray from Oshawa, Ontario Canada
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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 10:45 PM

Andy,

Are you looking for a solution that looks good on the layout, or for when photographing the layout?

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by ndbprr on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 6:09 AM

Don't know your era but after about 1975the EPA just about eliminated smoke from factories.  Steam yes. Smoke no. Steam will evaporate fairly quickly so all the way to the ceiling would not be prototypical in most cases

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Posted by richhotrain on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 6:40 AM

Bad idea in my opinion even if only for photographing purposes. You would be better off photoshopping the smoke plume. Here is a classic photo from Trains magazine.

Rich

steam-loco-smoke.jpg

Alton Junction

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Posted by kasskaboose on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 7:56 AM

My 1st mentor (Charles "Bill" Day) used a cotton ball.  It looked quite realistic.  

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 8:06 AM

ndbprr
Steam will evaporate fairly quickly so all the way to the ceiling would not be prototypical in most cases

Down here the humidity effects how far the steam rises from stacks.

The Sugar Mills in Clewiston put out a lot of steam. If the humidity is near 100% the steam goes on forever. On a drier day, the steam evaporates within about 100 feet of the stack.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Thursday, April 8, 2021 5:51 AM

SeeYou190

Andy,

Are you looking for a solution that looks good on the layout, or for when photographing the layout?

-Kevin

 

Kevin,

I'm just wanting to make the most realistic looking plume possible, but not thinking about photography per se.  By my definition however, achieving the former would be good for the latter as well.

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Thursday, April 8, 2021 5:52 AM

To answer a few other questions: this layout is set in the early 50s.  The plume would be directly against the backdrop, and it would cover a 90 degree angle in the backdrop where the layout intrudes into a little alcove.

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, April 8, 2021 5:56 AM

The Milwaukee Road Warrior
I'm just wanting to make the most realistic looking plume possible, but not thinking about photography per se.

OK, because that is a huge difference. There are lots of options that look good in photographs that look terrible in person. Same with water.

I have no solution for the actual modelling of smoke. On my previous two layouts, I put the smokestacks against the backdrops and painted the smoke onto the sky. This was easy, but it was unconvincing and left a lot to be desired.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by NorthBrit on Thursday, April 8, 2021 6:39 AM

Not sure how much 'smoke' you want, but a lot of cases steam locomotives did not have plumes of smoke unless working hard against a gradient for example.

On my layout I just wanted a my locomotives with a 'little smoke'.

 

 

David

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Posted by Great Divide on Friday, April 9, 2021 12:07 AM

Pruitt

Speaking only for myself, I have never seen "modeled" smoke from a smokestack look anything but toylike. Where it's been done, it looks about as realistic as the smoke from a model steam locomotive.

 

 

Absolutely have to agree with Mark ..... In the old days with manually operational, film camers, and his own dark room, John Allen made some of the most incredible smoke filled photo's I know of.  He used a combination of apeture settings and speed so he could move and blur finely torn and pulled steel wool hangin out of  an engine or factory.   He could also wave over the image in the darkrooom and lighten areas to enhance white steam or various whisps. It was never an exact science and I bet he had quite a bunch of photo's that went into the trash bin... But, still today, some of those photographs stand the test of time as stand alone examples of how good old tech could get. 

There are so many tricks to use today with computers a photo with smoke is childsplay to a competent computer program wiz.

As for three dimensional smoke that is convincing...  what Mark said.  Even at 6 or 7 feet it is obvious it is cotton or some material.....   I've tried this for clouds and with back lighting and viewing from a good distance you can do OK,  but most layouts have the viewer within 3 feet of any scene.    Leave it to their imaginations.   

 

 From the Ashes  ;  "The Great Divide"

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Posted by The Milwaukee Road Warrior on Saturday, April 10, 2021 8:04 AM

NorthBrit

Not sure how much 'smoke' you want, but a lot of cases steam locomotives did not have plumes of smoke unless working hard against a gradient for example.

On my layout I just wanted a my locomotives with a 'little smoke'.

 

 

David

 

My fault for not being clear: I'm not hoping to add smoke to locos or anything other than an industrial smokestack or two that will reside at or near my backdrop.  Smoke on a loco would look childish, and smoke from a smokestack might too, which is why I wanted to pick brains on the forum first. 

Andy

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Milwaukee native modeling the Milwaukee Road in 1950's Milwaukee.

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