East of the Blue Ridge

Chronicles of an On30 quarry railroad

Color Choices

When the time came to pick colors for the base scenery, I wanted to pull colors that already existed on my backdrop forward into the 3D scenery.


I like relatively low level, warm lighting in the layout room. I did not want to paint the sub scenery with a color that would absorb a lot of light. Using paint chips to find colors that matched the overall tone of the colors in the backdrop, I came up with two colors of paint for the sub scenery. One is beige, the other a pumpkin orange. Pulling paint from both colors randomly kept the sub scenery from looking too uniform and flat. Both are very light for colors that are supposed to represent dirt and fallen leaves. I plan to build up the scenery in layers much as I built up layers of paint on the backdrop. The sub scenery will influence the color palette and add luminosity, even though the vast majority of it will be completely covered.


I used Gysolite as adhesive to add loose rock castings to those cast in place. I filled the seams with patching plaster.


I got really lucky with the lighting on a recent trip through Bremo, Virginia, stopping to take a series of exposed rock studies for color reference.


Since my rock castings were composed of three different plaster products, I primed them first to avoid problems with inconsistent absorption of paints and stains. I mixed acrylic paints using Gray Value #5 as a base tone.


I used a lot of white, and traces of yellow ochre, burnt sienna, chromium oxide green, with cadmium red and cerulean blue to either warm up or cool down colors back toward neutral.


After the paint dried, I went over the rock castings with an india ink and alcohol wash. Once that was dry, I used chalks to color the castings, rubbing black into the shadows, pale yellow into the faces, and white to highlight the upper edges.