Tag Archives: rendering

Moorscaping…

Prospect along the tracks from Boltorr Road platform
Prospect along the tracks from Boltorr Road platform
Just a progress report. Building your own world, even a tiny corner of it, is hard work!

It has always been a part of my brief to get as much elevation as I reasonably could and I have to say it’s working out.

Actually rather too well in that the Boltor Brook seems to have carved itself a fairly impressive gorge through the millennia so I’m having to rewrite the narrative a little. But there are gorges elsewhere on Dartmoor, so it’s not improbable. Besides it’s my universe, so…

The Boltor Brook has become a mighty gorge
The Boltor Brook has become a mighty gorge

Structural work on the dam’s basin is done and sealed for landscaping and water effects.

The iron rail bridge has been set in ready for track laying with a little final adjustment to the abutments to fix a couple of issues. It’s safely stored away while landscape effects go in.

Some plaster slip has escaped onto the masonry but this is easily brushed off for the most part and will be weathered, vegetised, etc when it all comes together, at some vague point in the future, or maybe in the past. You know what private universes are like.

From the dam overlook to Wynderidg trig point
From the dam overlook to Wynderidg trig point

Now the bulk of the terrain from the basin to the Boltorr road overbridge has to be set in.
Butelph's Cross (11C) and Wynderidg trig point loom above the tunnel
Butelph’s Cross (11C) and Wynderidg trig point loom above the tunnel

I’ve plotted the track of the access road to the dam with a turning point and overlook for intrepid walkers. The path progresses northish towards the road with a shortcut for sightseers from the platform.

I really have to start detailed thinking about the road overbridge and construction. This element acts as a scenic break too and has to incorporate a bus stop and normal access to the platform. This was built way before any modern disabilities’ acts, so it’s likely to be just steps down.

The permanent way and the dam access track head northish toward the Boltor road
The permanent way and the dam access track head northish toward the Boltorr road

Life is great when I rule the world. First day of spring, soon.

Boltorr Road Halt - original track plan - evolution applies
Boltorr Road Halt – original track plan. Workin’ towards – evolution applies

Time to get the mortar in – last mention, honest…

Spent a couple of days rendering the main part of the dam.

It’s actually ended up looking a shade or two paler than the bridge abutments which I was on the point of remedying until I did comparison between the two structures.

I used a different method of producing the granite blocks on the dam, inscribing the joints and blocks. This produced a surface which has slightly smaller blocks and less relief.

Now placing the two elements in position, the dam seems to be further away. The treatment has induced some false, but effective perception of depth which I am very pleased with.

Further weathering will take place when the model is in situ
Further weathering will take place when the model is in situ

I’ve also brushed a suggestion of moss and algae onto the appropriate sections of the wall. It’s subtle and effective, although not evident in the image.

I have also learned that it’s hard to mess up rendering and weathering structures. It’s almost impossible to overdo it. Stuff that looks a bit much in wet paint usually tones back as it dries, and besides, if you think it really is a bit much it’s easy to cut it back with a couple of dry brushes.

There are now a couple of iron fittings and a grating which remain to be rustified. I might also fit a couple of retaining ties on the slightly dodgier bits of the wall.

So I’m now able to set the structure into the landscape and concentrate on laying track across the bridge.

Roll on…

Time to get the mortar in – II

Yesterday’s efforts weren’t as effective as I would have hoped.

The blocking and embossing techniques are good at establishing the texture of a stone wall, but so far, all I’ve tried has knocked all the effort back into blandness, only a step up from using embossed plastic card.

So, for the next step, I’ve taken some time over making up a dilute wash of a vaguely cement/mortar type colour. The thing is, you can be too careful. At first the mix was far too dilute, and for me the correct mix seemed to be just past the point when you start thinking, “This must be too thick.” In fact in the end I went even further.

To apply the mortar I arranged surfaces to be treated as close to the horizontal plane as practicable. At first I used an ingenious combination of third-hands and a digital level to set the plane. But let me tell you. Don’t waste your time. If it looks close to, it’ll be okay.

Dropper and Dopper - see what I did there?
Dropper and Dopper – see what I did there?

So, here is the first pass. I used a dropper bottle, available from your recycling bin or local craft store, to dribble my acrylic mortar slurry – in this case, a slightly green tinged beige suggesting moss and algae for this location by a Dartmoor river/stream/leat – and after seeing how it was drying out, dopped off any excess with a stencil sponge. Is “dopped” a word? I think you know what I mean.

Already showing more character, even if it's looking like a new wall although the
Already showing more character, even if it’s looking like a new wall although the “mortar” drops back as it dries

Once that rendering was dry, I dropped a slightly thinner black wash to give a little more relief. Once again, areas which took too much paint were adjusted with the sponge dopper

Close to good... finishing will be done on the layout with other landscape features rendered in
Close to good… finishing will be done on the layout with other landscape features rendered in

The effect is far more evident to the naked eye, and will get a little more apparent upon receiving its final fine matte coat in situ.

So, the next step is the entire Boltorr dam wall itself. I learnt a lot from the smaller bridge abutments, so hopefully I’ll get this done quite quickly.

Before the structure is set in stone, as it were, I want to fix a couple of features, some iron rings, and possibly, where my masonry looks a bit suspect, a couple of ties, all nice and rusty and streaking down the wall.

I also need to get the roof of the brick arches correctly coloured before I forget!

Materials used: foam board, DAS Clay, PVA glue, heat glue, UHU cement, cheap acrylics and paint samples, Woodland Scenics Earth Colors Kit C1215, various cheap brushes and sponges, clay roller.

Time to get the mortar in

Having got so far, either by applying or engraving a million granite blocks to the the dam and rail bridge abutments, I’m now attempting to get a suggestion of the mortar in between the blocks to increase the perception and depth of a huge granite wall.

Well, I spent a bit of time on this today, but to no avail, except the surface has dulled down nicely. By far the best relief has been effected by stippling quite a dark grey over the block, letting it dry a bit then dabbing a mix of paler grey and white over, letting that almost dry, then stippling again to blend the shades.

None of that helped render the mortar boundaries. So I’m going to have to think about that again. I did try shaving some black and white pastels onto the surface, then dry brushing the particles in. This has been more effective in the image than in reality. You can see some of the white pastel particles on one side of the wall before they were brushed in.

Further treatment of the wall has taken off the sheen
Further treatment of the wall has taken off the sheen

I’m thinking that the only way will be, setting one surface plane at a time perfectly horizontal and applying a mortar coloured wash and letting it dry before moving onto the next wall surface.

We’ll see…

Next? The Fjords…

I’ve spent a little time working out how to fit the Boltorr Dam and river bridge together.

In fact, it should not be as difficult as I first thought the problem might be.

Drone view of the realigned dam edifice. A couple of retaining walls should sort the topography out.
Drone view of the realigned dam edifice. A couple of retaining walls should sort the topography out.

Looking upstream with the new, more adequate retaining walls. Partially treated, but I'll wait until the whole structure is in place before final rendering and weathering
Looking upstream with the new, more adequate retaining walls. Partially treated, but I’ll wait until the whole structure is in place before final rendering and weathering

By moving the dam southwards; ie, toward the right, I can get a reasonably realistic looking watercourse for the Boltorr Brook, and, hopefully, maintain a realistic lie of the land into the river valley.

With respect to the bridge abutments I’ve increased the size of the retaining wall on the viewing side of the line. My next task is to firmly position the dam, establish the contours of the land and the embankment, then build connecting retaining walls, render and then finish the effect in situ so that there is a unified overall effect.

Another consideration is the profile of the rear scenic break as the slopes roll off the tor towards the river valley.

Easy, huh?

I’ll go through construction of the opposing abutment in the next posting.