I was going to include Porter Brook / Porter Brook Trestle (later known as Valley Brook) in the page for Strong, but I think it's going to be an interesting feature and build in itself to warrant its own page. The prototype trestle started out as a wooden trestle spanning the whole valley, and later the grade was filled and the gap over the brook spanned with a girder panel bridge. I prefer it as the early wooden trestle, so that's what I'm modeling.
Above left and right, the future site of Porter Brook on the layout. The center of the feature will be roughly where the coffee cup and tape measure are sitting on the benchwork. The two portions of photo backdrop taped to the piece of painted sky are helping to visualize how the scene will come together. Porter Brook is where the scenery will transition from late Fall to early Winter, which explains the two different seasons on the photo backdrops.
Above left and right, the removable panel backdrop to cover the windows has been cut, painted, and the photo backdrops applied. To accentuate the transition from late Fall to early Winter, the cloud cover transitions from sunny/partly cloudy to gray overcast. Below left, the valley floor of Porter Brook has been cut out of the benchwork, and lowered down and screwed in place to build the valley.
Above right and below left, the topography of Porter Brook is being built up with scrap foam board. I never throw this stuff out until there's nothing but slivers and crumbs left. Note that the foam board terrain is built up high enough to hide the window sill behind the benchwork, so some drastic work will be required to make the contour of the terrain believable. Below right, after the edges of the foam board have been shaved off to make slopes with a utility knife and steak knife, the foam is covered with plaster cloth to get the basic shape of the terrain.
Below left, rubber rock molds from Woodland Scenics are filled with wet plaster, and then the molds are pushed against the terrain while the plaster dries. When it's dry, which doesn't take long, the mold is carefully pried off the dried plaster, leaving rock faces on the plaster cloth. The final shaping of the slopes and blending of the rock into the surrounding terrain is done with celluclay. Below right are the tools of the trade of this, the messiest part of layout building (at least for me anyway). Empty sandwich meat tubs, Hydrocal plaster, Celluclay, rubber molds, paint brushes and popsicle sticks for mixing the plaster. The tub to the left has broken scraps of plaster from the rock molds that will be colored and added to the scenery as loose rock.
Below left, an experiment that seemed like a good idea at the time, even though the method I had been using to color rock worked perfectly fine. I thought if I painted it black first, instead of doing washes of diluted acrylics, the shadows in the cracks would look better, and I could damp brush and dry brush the layers of color to finish the rock over it. Well, I completely repainted it twice, and then finally painted the whole thing a coat of light gray and went with washes the way I had been doing it. Lots of time spent, but not wasted, exploring new techniques. I don't mind redoing anything until I like the results.
Below left, I did my usual blue painting of the brook bottom to visualize the outcome better. Then I added ground cover, various grass tufts, bushes, and ground up leaves from the backyard to cover the basic terrain. Below right, trees have been added to blend the left half of the terrain to the photo backdrop, and rocks and talus have been added to the sides and bottom of the brook. Twisted wire tree saplings with dead leaves have also been added. The waterfall at the back of the valley will be added before the trestle is put in place. The spots on the river banks and bottom have been left relatively bare and will be finished after the trestle bent footings have been installed. After the trestle is in, then the scenery will be finished, light snow added and lastly 'water' added.
Ok, never having done winter scenery before, and wanting as smooth a transtition as possible from late Fall to Winter, I had to take a pretty big leap of faith. I knew what I wanted it to look like, the way I remember it when I was a kid. The first snowfalls usually were light and didn't cover everything, and if they did, alot of it usually melted before the next snowfall. To transition, I sprayed the layout on both sides of the brook with wet water and then diluted matte medium. Then I sprinkled Woodland Scenics snow straight from the shaker jar, lightly into the field on the left side of the brook, working my way to the right. Then I took stock, and sprinkled it a little heavier, then worked my way from left to right getting heavier as I went. Below left and right, I covered the brook bottom with painters tape to keep the snow off of it, which would show up under the resin when I pour the stream. Note the obvious joint in the photo backdrop from the no-snow woods to the snowy woods. Also note in the right photo, the bare white patch on the right. That's just a bare spot of plaster cloth at the moment that will be worked on later.
Below left and right are close-ups of the light snow cover. Once I was happy with the level of snow, I sealed everything with a good dose of diluted matte medium. I used a really fine misting sprayer for this, held up high away from the scenery as I did it, otherwise the spray would blast the snow all over the place and also make it ball into clumps. Trial and error here until I was satisfied.
Below, the scene is ready to add the waterfall, the trestle bridge, the brook, and then finally add more trees to the scene. Notice from top to bottom, to help blend them together, some of the gray winter sky has been extended into the blue fall sky, and the blue has been extended into the winter gray. The evergreens to the left descend down to the point where the winter hills to the right also descend down, where the 'valley that the brook is coming from' creates the middle low ground. A tall evergreen with the back branches cut off until it's flat is put up against the seam in the photo backdrops to hide it from viewing from front, left and right. The evergreen 3-D trees to the left of the joint have a light cover of snow, but not so much to make them look out of place with the bare evergreens behind. The trees to the right have a little more snow, but not too much. The colors of the trees have been carefully selected to blend with the colors of the scenery backdrop behind them, with a little color variation to help bring the photo from the back into the scenery in the front. The snow cover on the ground to the left is light, pulling some of the winter into the left side, but not so much that the bare trees on the photo behind look out of place, and heavier on the right, but still with bare patches to pull some of the fall toward the winter side. In short, overlapping the seasons for a smoother transition. I'm happy with the scene so far. The thing here is believable blending, and to help the illusion, the distraction from what you don't want to be noticed, which is the change of seasons, will be the trains crossing the trestle from one season to the other. Any angle I take shots from with a camera in this scene, will probably be believable. We'll see.