Sergio Leone Movie Set Diorama

Discussion in 'Scratchin' & Bashin'' started by JohnReid, Aug 20, 2010.

  1. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    ......On the areas where you may only have restricted access to later on, you may want to do some of the detail now such as dents, nicks, scratches,putting up old of new signs,making rusty nails and nail holes and pre-shading with chalk pastels.
    With the use of pastels on dry unfinished rough wood, this is where my method is a little different than most.On most surfaces chalk pastels will easily rub off but on rough wood surfaces they are quite permanent as is, with no fixative required.Remember I am doing a diorama here, so it is just to look at.If I was using the same method on shiny plastic that is meant to be handled,I would roughen up the surface to get a little tooth in it before applying the pastels and then use a pastel spray fixative over that.I will mark that on my list for further experimentation.

    For now lets just deal with the barn siding look.OK so now we have this gray transparent surface with a little wood color and grain showing through.Perfect! Lets add some nail holes and rusty nails which is common with most old wood.Find a pattern that you like or just put a few here and there but remember you are probably( in real life )nailing into joists or studs which will create its own pattern.Rather than have a whole bunch of old boards with a straight line of nails running across them which is boring,you may want to create a different pattern.I often use a kind of zig-zag pattern to avoid this.......to be continued(the doorbell is ringing!)
  2. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    JohnReid Active Member

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    For the area between the side of the ceiling and the cars wall,I decided to use some paper backed wood veneer,in this case maple.Rather than use glue I used florists wire to secure it to the plastic.I try to stay away from toxic glues as much as possible.Once I get the basic wooden frame up I can go back to using the regular carpenters glue on the rest.
    Paperbacked Veneer is great to work with as you can cut it cleanly with a pair of scissors or Xacto blade.The glue between the paper and the wood acts like a vapor barrier so their isn't much warping when using water based carpenters glues.The glue when dry is also waterproof.
    Over this I have stared to apply the aged tongue depressors using pegs to secure it down while drying.Once I get the basic framing finished I will feel much better again getting back into woodworking territory.These plastic cars are great as a starting point and have saved me a lot of time getting to this point.The basic framework for Morton's luxury car will be a lot the same except it will be finished in polished hardwoods and brass.

    For step by step photo's see my photobucket album "G scale trains"
  4. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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  5. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    Using the smallest coffee stir stiks in my arsenal ,the movie side sheathing has begun.First I cut out some veneer and glued it over the plastic, over that I glued the vertical sheathing which is slightly larger that that depicted on the model.The outward side has been aged a bit and will be finished later as in the film.
    I really don't know how this set was built for the movie and of course you don't see any of it in the film.I don't know of any pics that have survived of the actual set so I will just have to use my imagination here.
    I am assuming that a real old railway car was used and a set built around it.I am probably wrong about this but using an old car makes it more interesting for my purposes and I think for my RR buds following this thread and gives me a great place to start.
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    JohnReid Active Member

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    JohnReid Active Member

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    JohnReid Active Member

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    I came across this pic just today.Wow ! great timing as I had just started to sheath the movie side of this car with wood.Although it is not exactly like the car in the movie it sure is loaded with research info.
    Like Sergio I love detail,attention to detail was one of his great strengths.
    The trick here is to maintain enough of the original passenger car while aging it.Some of the original carpentry on the car was of high quality and must be retained while a lot of the added stuff looks like it was just slapped up there any old way but you and I know that everything there was precisely planned to be there.My diorama is not meant to be an exact copy of his film sets but something similar.
    The wood siding that I put on the model today was treated with a couple of washes of the gray mix.Some edges were left broken on the ends. Remember old breaks can be aged too but new breaks should show a change in color back to the original wood.
    I left enough of the windows outline to identify this as an old passenger car which is an important consideration as you want your viewer not to question what it is.
    I then took a sharp needle and added some nail holes not in a pattern but not just randomly either. Then I took a sharp HB pencil and added a little graphite to each hole to make it look like a nailhead.Later when finishing the weathering I will add a drop of water to each hole which will swell the hole back level again but leaving behind something that looks like nails.I will then add some rust and have it running into and down the wood.The whole thing will be softened using pastels which are put on last after all the handing is over but that is still a long way down the road.
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    JohnReid Active Member

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    JohnReid Active Member

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    This is the interior of the same wall.I placed the rough cut boards horizontally because if I decide to light the car from above it will have a more dramatic effect.I covered over all the windows except one which will have shutters.(mostly for my picture taking purposes) These boards in real life would have been put up there in an attempt to make this area livable.The interior will be weathered but not to the extent of the outer side.How this car got there is not really explained in the movie.It looks like it got there in pretty rough shape to begin with.Why ? because if the railway was just pushing through this area, where did an old weathered rail car come from? It could be that its present resting place ,is just its final resting place , at the end of a long hard trail across the country.(maybe on a flat car)Anyway that is my story and I am stickin' to it !
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    JohnReid Active Member

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    I almost finished the interior ceiling ,the only thing left will be to do some shading with pastels after the sides are finished.I used some long thin coffee stir stiks and painted on some very thin nimbus gray /raw umber mix (95% gray,5% raw umber).I then glued them on with carpenters glue to the underlying cardboard roof that was pre-painted burnt umber .I left the boards really rough and warped for the aged look.When dry I took a pin and created holes in the wood in a random fashion, as though somebody had quickly nailed them up there at some point in the cars history ,for insulation purposes.I then used a ordinary HB pencil and twisted some graphite into each hole to represent a nail head.With a small brush I then took some very thin raw umber and put a small drop on each pin hole to swell the wood level again and add a little color.Next I mixed up a very thin wash of raw umber and with a stiff bristle tooth brush I flicked on some of this onto the ceiling.You could also have handy a thin wash of the gray and flick this on if things get too brownish.The trick here is knowing when to quit and not cover all of the underlying wood grain.
    The next couple of steps require that you be subtle in your work and don't over do it.Take a thin burnt sienna wash and with a very small round brush randomly put drops onto the nails to represent varying degrees of rust.Rust you say!! in the desert? Well like I said earlier this car only ended up here.
    Let it dry ,and then you can come back with another small brush and soften the rusty edges using a little burnt sienna chalk pastel.Also the ends of the boards tend to soak up a little color too.Now stand back a take a look If your not happy with the look you can always come back and flick on some more gray or raw umber if you want more color or to slightly change a shade.Here again you can play with this all day if you want.Have fun! The pics in my photobucket covers each of the steps involved.
  13. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    Here we are getting close to the finished product.I added a little shading using black pastel applied very lightly with a small soft brush(kind of a miniature make up brush).Try to be very subtle about this ,try not to overdo it.
    If you blow up the picture(all my pics are 2 megs at least) you will see that the underlying wood grain is still there which is most important for this technique.Each piece of wood retains its individual pattern and color ,no two are alike.
    When I come to doing the luxury hardwood stuff on the other car, I will use no paint or stain just the natural colored wood, hand selected for grain,pattern and color.
  15. JohnReid

    JohnReid Active Member

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    JohnReid Active Member

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    This is the opening scene from the movie and is from the film set that I am constructing now.It looks old and chaotic but everything here has been purposely selected for maximum impact on the viewer.Nothing is square or at right angles to the other.The colors,the lighting,the textures,even the old clothes line wheel, all have a role in creating the scene.The drama is created by the anticipation of who is behind the door ?What better way to open a film than the opening of a door ?
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    JohnReid Active Member

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    This is about the most you ever see of the other side of the set,taken from a camera high angle near the water tower.The wicket /WC (every station needs one)was created with original parts of the model.On the inside of the window was the old telegraph machine that got on everybodys nerves and was ripped out by a baddy.On a old railway car bench on the outside was where the now famous "fly on the face" scene took place.Next up will be the shed to be built over top of the old car.This should be fun!
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    JohnReid Active Member

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    JohnReid Active Member

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    I have a choice for set #2 ,Morton's car.I can use another passenger car like the one I am doing now or use this Bachmann passenger/baggage car.I am assuming here that they adapted an already built car for movie making purposes.It probably never happened this way but I like the idea ! This car will be on its wheels and a set built around it.
    If I use the baggage car I will use one side of the already built car and adapt it to my purposes.It will not be the exact car from the movie but my interpretation of it.The passenger car section and part of the baggage area will be movie set.The rest of the baggage area will be a staging area.
    I like the paint job as is ,except I will be modifying it .Most of the green I will keep but will matte spray it with acrylic sealer and then finish it using pastels.The roof area will be matte black including the area with the RR letters,I will replace them with something more appropriate. The car will be broken down and gutted so only the shell remains.The interior will be in Victorian luxury style with elements from the movie and the Disneyland train.I will install the unique brass tubing near the ceiling that Morton used to move around the car.On the prop side I will put a backdrop of Monument Valley to add to the atmosphere.