Lyon Valley Northern

This site is designed to promote the hobby of ferroequinology. It also provides an opportunity to show the development of the "Lyon Valley Northern": an HO railroad featuring CN and BNSF action in the West. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or comments at

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Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Swamp Lake

Near CN ELSPETH at the Northern end of the Yard Throat, there is an area that required low scenery to allow operators to reach in to uncouple cars and throw switches. To facilitate operations I decided to put in a lake. Now on this railroad all the track is flat so there is no natural elevation. So to compromise an artificial bank would be needed to separate the lake from the track.

This shot shows the corner. I painted all the land area with brown house paint and the water areas were painted black. This gave me an idea of what the area would look like before I got started.

Here you can see that there is not much space between the track and lake, however the compression is OK and the eye will be drawn into the scene when scenic foliage and celluclay land forms are applied.

This was the initial shape as I was planning shallow swamps but as I progressed the natural look made me rethink and simplify the final land to water ratio. Less islands and more land mass.

To start the land forms and create that barrier between the track and water I mixed three handfuls of celluclay with two great globs of white glue from a jug. I added three drops of soap and added water and thoroughly mixed it (no dry lumps) adding water until it was a consistency of mushy mud.

I then applied it in loose blobs and used an artist spatula to shape it. Keep it vertical as pressing it flat defeats the creation of land forms. I then shaped it by pushing into the celluclay and either giving it light presses making striation or pushing it up to create rock outcrops.

When happy, I gave it a soaking with diluted white glue 60% water 40% white glue. Then I used sand that had been sifted and microwaved (get rid of bugs) and applied it by sprinkling with a soup spoon. I then spritzed it with wet water so everything was soaked.

This closeup gives you an idea of the coverage. Most of the celluclay is covered with dirt. The natural grey of the product will give a rock look to the exposed areas.

As it dries you can add some lighter coloured dirt to create variation.

This shows the shore line with dirt applied. The little island was done the same way.

Next step was to sprinkle by pinching through the fingers some woodland scenics ground foam. I like the lighter mixed fine grass. Make sure you leave some areas with the dirt exposed. Use more spritz with wet water and diluted white glue.

One interesting thing about this wet on wet approach is the celluclay is still like mud. So you can add weed, bushes and trees to it. Just stick them into the celluclay. When all this dries everything will be firmly in place. The tree materials are short here again so short folks can switch. They are a mix of spirea, super trees and woodland scenics and scenic express bushes and foliage. Twigs represent dead trees and logs.

This angle shows the variety of shapes sizes and colour which are indicative of what you find near western lakes. Lots of scrub.

The next step was to create the water. I used modelling paste mixed with some black craft paint.
I applied it with a brush using horizontal parallel strokes to create wave action. The angle was NOT parallel with the edge of the layout so it would draw the eye to the scene. Then I let it dry thoroughly.

Here is a photo of the products used.

In this shot you can see the wave action. I added black to the white modelling paste so I could see what I was doing.

This overhead shows an experiment where I added gloss mossy green craft paint to the back side of the waves. Interesting effect though it made the water a little to light and grayish for my liking.

Here are the two colours I was playing with.

Here is a closeup of what it looked like when dry.

So I decided to try glossy black only. This had much more drama and made the lake deep. I liked it better.

So this overview shows the gloss black with one layer of liquitex gloss medium with varnish.

This closeup really shows the wet look.

Low angle shows the reflections from the trees and it looks like sunshine on the water from the overhead light.
I think I will experiment and put a few white caps on the bigger waves giving it more dimension and interest. Hope you enjoyed the project. I will post more when I continue the scenery around the other side.


Blogger Colin said...

Looking good Chris! The colour of the water makes it look like a dark stormy day!

12:56 AM  
Blogger OlavM said...

Hello Chris!
The end result was wet, wet, wet!
Thanks again for a nice addtional scene that just made this corner much more attactive!
Please do not disturb this nice scene withfishermen and/or boats!

Just a question though: What about dust and fingerprints in this area - will this ruin the fresh look now as it is just finished?
Best regards from Olav in Norway

3:12 AM  
Blogger jgotts said...

Great element added Chris! I always have to check in every week or so to see what interesting element you have added! Very nice sir!

6:46 PM  
Blogger Chris Lyon said...

Thanks for the kind words guys. The railroad has been slowly coming along. I will be working on the other side of the lake soon so stay tuned. I do not plan to add any boats or fisherman as you typically would not see any on this kind of windy day.

6:16 AM  

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