Saturday, May 28, 2011

The World is Flat(s)

 The Walthers Hardwood Furniture Co., rearranged.

The world, we know, is round. But when it comes to structures on the Manitoba and Minnesota Subdivision, it's made up of flats—flat structures, that is.

Of the 50 structures originally on the layout (before I reduced it in size), only 15 were modelled in three dimensions. The rest were flats, positioned against a wall or backdrop.

This great flat was built by my friend Rick Ritchie.
Can you spot the John Allen building?

Many of the flats were made from commercial structure kits. For some, I used only one wall. For others, I built them out lengthwise, gluing the sections to foam core to keep the sections together.

I don't remember who made this kit. (DPM?) The
warehouse on the right is scratchbuilt from styrene.

Some of the flats were also scratchbuilt, using Evergreen styrene glued to foam core. The largest one on the layout made like this is the Peace River Paper Mill.

The Peace River Paper Mill is over 10 feet long.

To blend everything together, I placed photos of buildings between the flats. In some cases, the photos are actually of real kits, taken from model railroad publications. In a few cases, they are photos of actual kits on layouts—once again, from model railroad publications. A structure from John Allen’s famed Gorre and Daphetid layout (in Port) even pokes itself out from behind one flat.

Flats and photos mingle to try to create a believable scene.
The store on the left is from the cover of a DPM box.

As I have written on this blog before, looking at photos of flats and backdrop buildings makes everything look, well, flat and unrealistic. It’s only when you are following a train that the flats blend into the total visual experience, suggesting that the work continues on past the wall or backdrop.

In the meantime, the flats are an excellent way to make buildings stretch further, without additional cost. As a bonus, you get something unique on your layout that likely won’t be seen on others.

A view down the yard, showing the mix of flats and photos.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John,

    I'm a big fan of flats, and yours are no exception - nice weathering and linking them with the surrounding backdrop and scene. They truly do add to the depth of the scene being modelled.

    The Peace River Mill, well, that's in a league of its own. It really gets across the idea that this is one biiig industry here, capable of shipping many carloads. I'm also a big fan of the Red Wing Milling kit and it's always interesting to see how various modellers have kitbashed it on their layouts.

    Thanks for sharing,