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Wrong Side of the Tracks; industrial area diorama
Topic Started: Mar 20 2017, 09:10 AM (893 Views)
Pixel
Subcompact
I've been wanting to build a diorama for a while now to give me cool backdrops for photographing. I want to depict the sort of grimy industrial part of a city. Not a bad neighborhood, but one where all the businesses are about getting stuff done, and not trendy eateries & shopping.

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This is where I decided to build it. This set of hutches in my bedroom are 8.5 feet long, giving me a lot of room to work with. I extended the bases out past the edge of the hutch to give me a 19" total depth. This was needed as the roadway will be 4.5" alone (2" per lane with 1/4" shoulders). This was version 1 of the bases, cut from 5/8" plywood. Unfortunately I didn't end up using these as in the 5 days between being cut and starting the next step they all warped badly for some reason.

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This was version 2, made of 3/4" MDF. Right now it is in a downstairs room I'm using as a workroom while I also renovate the bathroom off it (all my plaster dust messes in one place). As you can see I've already installed the sidewalks, cut from 1/4" MDF.

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This is the far left section, and will hold the towing company, and a freight transfer terminal for my 1/64" rigs. (the loose pieces of MDF are to plug the curb cuts when I lay out the spackle for the roadway).

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This is the center section, which will hold a gas station & a diner on opposite sides of the cross street.

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This is the far right section, which will hold an auto repair/restoration shop and a junkyard.

The buildings will be modified 1/87 scale for now, as 1/64 buildings are too expensive and difficult to source.


Edited by Pixel, Mar 20 2017, 09:36 AM.
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Pixel
Subcompact
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Next up the roadways were spackled. This is a pertty thin layer, just enough to give it some depth, and to give me a nice texture to the asphalt.

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it usually takes 2 rounds of applying & sanding to get this smooth, with third round of spot-fixing the odd mistake.
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Pixel
Subcompact
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Once the roads were about 90% done, I started on the parking lots. At first they were gong to be all spackle, but I realized a 1/4" of spackle was going to be a pain to get level, and would probably crack as it dried. Instead I cut inserts of 1/8" hardiboard to take up some of the vertical height.

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This was then spackled like the roadway (the weird round shadow is from my camera lens, due to taking the pic way to close instead of zooming).

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Once I get the parking lots mostly done I'll do the entrance aprons as well. If I wasn't expecting to be changing out the buildings eventually, I would have made basements out of the 1/4" MDF and installed those first and spackled around them.

This brings it up to date as far as I have pictures, more progress will hopefully be coming soon.

Edited by Pixel, Mar 20 2017, 09:40 AM.
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toyotageek
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Japanese Minicar Maniac
Looking forward to seeing this progress and develop.... :thumbup:
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64impala
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Fullsize
Looking good so far!
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Pixel
Subcompact
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Apron work is happening. This is actually the second coat on them. I did a basic first coat, sanded the high spots and filled the low areas as you see here.

I also built up the junkyard & the empty lot between the terminal & the tow yard. These areas are supposed to be dirt, so are intentionally less even.

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Other touching up is also happening all over the piece. I'm hoping once I sand this coat that I can cut the lines in the sidewalks (should have done it before I stuck it down) and then get some paint on it. I'm sure I'll find more issues once the paint is on, but it'll also be easier to spot them.

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thelostcleric
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TheLostCleric
Nice work so far. I've found that black chalkboard spray paint makes plaster look like asphalt.
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Pixel
Subcompact
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Since part 4, I've sanded down the driveway aprons, cut in the sidewalk cracks, and finally put some paint on this thing.

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(This last section was done mostly with a different bottle of black, which turned out to be thinner. That's right, I burned through 1.5 bottles of craft paint doing a single coat of black.)

This was the first coat of black, done with some semi-gloss craft paint I had lying around. Semi-gloss is definitely the wrong final sheen, but it was very effective at showing me every single bad spot in the plaster job.

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Some of it is going to get fixed, some I'm not going to worry about. But the biggest thing is I need to clean up the edge where the asphalt meets the sidewalk. It is too soft and blobbly in too many places.

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So knowing I was going to have to do a bunch of sanding & some re-spackling, I did the only logical thing and put more paint on.

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(Wanted to see if the transfer terminal parking lot would work in concrete, I'm leaning towards no.)


Obviously no detail painting has been done in these except the quickest of drybrushes on the dirt areas. But it is coming along. It will still need a lot of work to get to where I want it to look.

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And here are some pics with buildings & vehicles quickly put in place to give you an idea of what is coming.

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(The attached driveway is coming off the shop on the left, and the garage on the right is getting mirror imaged with the lean-to moving to left, wall w/ garage door moving to right.)


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(Tow company building is temporarily put together with hot glue. The last set of windows on the long wall will probably be replaced with a rollup door.)
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pjedsel
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Pony Car
Thanks for walking us through the creation of your diorama - it is fun watching it coming together. The tow company building in the last picture reminds me of the old Revell HO engine house and Superior Bakery models from many years ago. :)
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diomakr
Fullsize
interesting project- looks like it's coming right along. great choice on the MDF for your base. I was wondering what the spackle base coat is for? Is it to raise the level of the lots or create hills? if you haven't already you definitely should test whatever paint you are using for the topcoat- make sure your rubber tires don't stick to it. (many paints seem to have this problem) I learned this the hard way over the years- trying to use whatever cheap paint I had lying around.
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Pixel
Subcompact
pjedsel: They are all HO scale buildings. I don't recall who made them so you might be right.

diomaker: The spackle give a bit more of a road texture, and keeps the road from being unrealistically perfectly smooth. Especially as this is supposed to be the more run-down side of town.
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Pixel
Subcompact
Posted Image

Since the last update, a lot of paint has gone on. The major flaws in the spackle exposed by the base coat of black were sanded down, but I decided to leave the lesser flaws in place until and unless they bug me as I get down into the gritty details.

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All the asphalt areas got a coat of chalkboard black, followed by a lot of grey drybrushing. I tried to make each ďlotĒ a slightly different amount of drybrushed so they donít all look like they were paved at the same time.

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The vacant lot & junkyard got some brown dry & wet brushing, which Iím still not entirely happy with. And the sidewalks got several different colors of careful drybrushing to give it so color texture. They will eventually get some ink washing as well.

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The road markings were masked with tamiya tape and carefully painted. I decided against a double yellow line because it would have been a royal paint to get it accurate. I added some gaps in the white line on the front edge to imply there are businesses on the other side of the street as well.

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And, as you can see the buildings are starting to get constructed/modified, and weathered so the can go in. ďBobbyís GarageĒ got much of the base cut away and the side walls & awning were mirrored, however the base is thermoplastic and appears to have shrunk slightly, as after I pulled the building off, cut the extra base off and tried to glue the building back on, it was larger than itís footprint area on the base. I may make another base, I may try and add something to the edge to make this one wider, or I might not care.

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The repair shop got reversed on itís base, and the extra base that used to be the forecourt was cut off the now back. The center set of doors turned out to be damaged when it was pulled apart, so after failing to fix them they are now glued shut.

The small commercial building exists only to hid the divider once this is back on the set of hutches were it will live. I need to add glass to the windows, and build some sort of fake window display areas, but the weathering is pretty much done.
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Eurosport94
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Station Wagon
That is just plain awesome. Can't wait for more pictures and build up!
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microbuss
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Minivan
don't forget to add railroad tracks too hehe
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Pixel
Subcompact
This is going to be less visually massive than previous updates, as I'm now working on smaller parts, instead of the whole thing at once. My current projects are to get the buildings painted & weathered and in place, and get the fences up. At that point I can move the whole thing back upstairs to where it will live, and do the smaller detail work over time.

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So here is the junkyard fence in progress. It is made from square "matchsticks" from the craft store and coffee stirrers from Starbucks. I haven't figured out how to get the planks all cut the same size from the stirrers. Fortunately the imperfection works well for a junkyard fence, but will need to be improved for the other fences.

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I built as much fence as I could with the handful of stirrers I had grabbed, then gave them a wash with watered-down ink and installed them using superglue. I think they'll get either another ink wash, a grey paint wash, or both to get them to the amount of weathered I'm looking for.

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FoolTrottel
Midsize
Great stuff!

Really do love the work on the fence, looks very good!
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avalanche man
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avalanches rule
will the tow yard be home to improbable garage towing?
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Pixel
Subcompact
avalanche man
Apr 1 2017, 01:45 AM
will the tow yard be home to improbable garage towing?
Yep. Or as much of the tow fleet a can fit there. It will definitely be home to the heavy tow division.
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Pixel
Subcompact
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Like my last update, I'm working on getting buildings in place on the diorama. The big progress was getting the transfer terminal building painted, assembled and in place.

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The original building was a rectangle of 3x2 sections. However I a) wanted to hide the cutout for the hutch top where this will be displayed, and b) leave maximum room for the, frankly gigantic, 1/64 semis & trailers. So I ended up at this shape, with the other 3-section wall being on the opposite side facing the diner off the to the right.

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The wall sections are hot-glued to pieces of aluminum secured to the base, which makes it very stable.

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One last thing I have to do is fill in this 3/4" gap, as the depth of the cutout to fit the hutch top is just this much longer than the wall sections. I'll use some pieces of another building to make this, and skipping the windows on this part.

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In addition to displaying the semis, I will also be able to use it to stage "photo shoots" of my customs like this.

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I also did the windows in the little building covering the other hutch support. The store windows are all frosted, and the other windows are clear with paper "windowshades."

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This was then lined with black paper and glued to a bit of aluminum like the other building.

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I also assembled the gas station, though it may get another paint job as I'm not quite happy with it. You can also see this 1/87 building it is a bit small for 1/64 vehicles.

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I also painted and assembled the diner, but it still needs some detail painting and a black ink wash to dirty it up a bit. This building definitely still feels too small to me, despite painting the "foundation" part silver to make it look like part of the building. I will probably add a 1/4" foundation of mdf to raise it up, and make new stairs.
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Pixel
Subcompact
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Work on the diorama has slowed a bit, but I havenít been slacking since the last update. Mostly I have been working on getting the tow yard garage painted & built.

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The brick walls were given multiple washes of grey acrylic and black ink until I got a color I liked. The windows & doors were painted flat green. The main roof was painted flat black, then drybrushed with rubber brown(with rust on the skylights), and the small roof was painted flat black, brushed with flat steel while it was still wet, then later drybrushed with rust. Overall Iím really happy with it, though I think I need to dirty up the big doors some.

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I still have to build some door stoops, and make a fake rollup door for the extra garage door I cut out of the back. Amusingly, since I bought this building in November the tow fleet has gotten big enough that I almost need a second one to house them all.
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FoolTrottel
Midsize
Brilliant!!

One can never have a too big a tow fleet!
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toyotageek
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Japanese Minicar Maniac
Looking good! The brush work on the buildings really makes a difference in making them look real vs like toys!
Edited by toyotageek, Apr 15 2017, 06:44 PM.
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DinoMom
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Midsize
Ooh I am feeling all glum looking at this part of town 😣!!... all warehouses and parking lots... but what an excellent build you have made, and a great home for your cars and trucks!
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microbuss
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Minivan
I forgot to ask but who made the diner?
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Pixel
Subcompact
microbuss
Apr 15 2017, 09:31 PM
I forgot to ask but who made the diner?
It is a City Classics 1/87 scale diner.

http://www.cityclassics.biz/diner.html
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