ATSF Howard Branch

Construction Techniques

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Updated 9/24/05


The skyboards are 1/8" masonite which has been glued and nailed to the wall or to special supports. The seams were sealed with latex caulk. I did this because it will expand and contract, while drywall mud will crack with time. Several coats were required because caulk shrinks substantially.

Next the boards received a coat of primer/sealer.

Painting the sky was an adventure. I purchase two cans of flat latex wall paint: one white and the other dark blue about the color of this webpage background. I have a compressor and spray gun, so all of the painting was done with the sprayer to try to feather colors. I started by putting about 1/2 cup of blue into a pint of white. that was sprayed around the bottom 20% of the boards. Then another 1/2 cup of blue was added to what was left and another 20% layer was sprayed and feathered in. After the second layer, 1 cup of blue was added and another 20% band was sprayed. Then another cup of blue was added and a 4th layer. Finally 1 1/2 cups of blue was added and the top 20% was sprayed. Perfect? - No, but it looks much better than a wall that is solid from floor to ceiling. A difficulty is that these paints dry darker than when they are wet, so the wet paint is deceiving.

Now for some ground. On the top level, which is the level I am showing, most of the hills on the skyboard will behind other hills. You will have to look beyond the hill in front to see these in the distance. I began with a brown paint for earth. Don't ask the color as it was an "oops" can of paint that Home Depot sells for a dollar because they mixed it wrong.

Next I painted over that same area with a green can of "oops" paint. I brushed it on with with a drybrush effect. I wanted the brown earth to show through the green of the grass. These are the bluestem grass hills of central Kansas.

But Kansas does have trees on these hills.

I painted these trees with a sponge and three different colors. I like the sponge because it leaves holes for an airy feeling (pun). The sponge works best when dry, almost like a rubber stamp.

I used an old cookie sheet as my pallet and dobbed the paint on. First green for the whole tree. Then a very dark green for accent on one side and a light green for accent on the other.

Clouds finish off my "masterpiece." I used the New London Industries "The Clouds" stencils and an airbrush. I wanted soft edges to my clouds, so the stencils were held about an inch from the skyboard when the clouds were sprayed in.

I may add some cows at a later date. They will fit in some areas and not others, so I will see how other parts of layout develop before making those final decisions.




Steve Sandifer