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Location: St. George, Utah, United States

Jan 4, 2009

11 Sky

With the muslin pasted and dry we were ready to create the sky. Oh! Oh! Oh!
Creating a sky that looks like a sky is really a challenge. The sky painter finally adopted the approach recommended by Dave Frary in his How to Build REalistic Model Railroad Scenery. A similar technique is described and illustrated by Darryl Huffman in his video Easy Backdrop Painting for Model Railroaders. The trick is to get the sky dark at the top and faded to a very light color at the bottom.

Benjiman Moore Utah Sky looked like a good color in the Ace Hardware paint store. However in reality it is way, way too dark and too intense. Experience suggests that subtle is better. So the sky painter mixed his own paint. He created four intensities of blue. The first mixed the Utah Sky blue with white at a ratio of 6 parts white to 1 part blue. This gave a good dark blue for the top of the sky. The second mixed 12:1, the third 24:1 and the bottom 50:1. This seemed to provide a pretty good transition. Next time (is there going to be a next time?) the second would be a bit whiter. Wow! Does a little blue paint go a long way. The illustration shows the four cans of paint.

We started at the top with a narrow band of our 6:1 blue. Using Darryl's technique we painted until our brush was dry and then dry brushed down into the second level with what was left on the brush. We applied the next intensity 12:1 and dry brushed it into the dry brush of the darker color and dry brushed into down into the next layer. Where the two colors mixed we scrubbed and scrubbed with the brush until there seemed to be a nice blend of the two colors. (Use cheap brushes, this destroys brushes.

The next layer used the same technique blending the 12:1 color with the 24:1 color and so forth with the bottom layer blending the 50:1 color with the 24:1 color. In most places, where brushed really scrubbed the paint the blending looks pretty good. In a couple of places the chairman of the board commented, "the sky painter must have been getting tired when this corner was painted!" The painter protested, "those are clouds." The chair person did not seemed convinced. Perhaps there will be a bit of touch up and the "clouds" eliminated.

With no benchwork and no scenery in place this is a lot of sky. About the lower half of the sky will be covered with scenery once the benchwork, track and scenery is in place. By itself there is a lot of light sky at the bottom but most of this will be covered. It was much easier to paint the sky with no benchwork in the way. Later the backdrop will be expanded with some mountains but this will have to wait until some scenery is in place.


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