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I have a 30 inch wide On30 layout I am working on.  It will be a fantasy based in Colorado called the Colorado Mining Company.  I need some backdrops for along the finished basement wall.  Good source?  Best way to mount?  I am limited in computer skills so would like to purchase them and not print them as per downloads.

Thanks

Last edited by johnshorse
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Wow, what a lot to unpack! Rather than try to cover it all, let me offer my own somewhat similar quest as a guide (good or bad!).

First, you say you are "limited in computer skills", but does that mean you're looking to turn the whole project over to someone, or are you willing to select and perhaps selectively edit stock on-line images to come up with the representation you want to create for your layout. I'm sure there are those who, for a suitable fee, can guide you through the design and construction process for a background to meet your needs, but I'll assume you're a do it yourself'er like most of us who is willing to participate in as much of the process as possible.

With that said, you first need to determine what kind of image you want as a background for your layout. Prototype photos of the kind and location of the railroad you're trying to create or model would be a good start, as would a clear vision of the railroad you have built or are planning for the foreground. Once you have at least a tentative background in mind, you can start the search. For my layout, I had decided to add a tunnel covering a couple of existing tracks along the back edge of the layout, topped by rocky outcroppings at each end above the portals, so I was in search of a mountain view with a dip in the middle that would be compatible with and extend the layout's tunnel configuration off into the distance, with a reasonably dramatic sky above. After a suitable key word search, I found an on-line source for backgrounds (appropriately named Buy-Backdrop.com) that had a pretty good library of stock photos, among them the one below:

Screenshot 2021-08-10 at 02-03-49 Fashion Mountain Outdoors Photography Backdrops Attractive Vinyl The Journey Theme Backgr[...]

  As part of my design process, I ended up cropping (to cut off the foreground and fit the height-width dimensions), blowing up, printing out (on about 40 sheets of paper, as I recall!) and taping together a mock-up of the background, and temporarily hanging it behind my layout (note: at this point, I had not yet started construction on the tunnel, which is represented here only by the portal propped up on the left):

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Once I was satisfied with the effect, I ordered the cropped photo printed on a four foot by nine foot polyester fabric (vinyl was also available for a few dollars more). Since the supplier was overseas, it took several weeks to fabricate and ship it here (and this was pre-COVID supply chain problems!), but the cost was only about $20 total, so I was willing to wait. Local suppliers and chains like Office Depot offer similar services much quicker, but typically at *much* higher costs. Here's the final result, while it was still in the process of being fitted:

backdrop

In my case, I decided to just hang the fabric in front of the wall (notched to clear a beam near the center) from hooks screwed into the ceiling, with a plastic pipe fastened along the bottom to both weigh it down and smooth the wrinkles, and serve to roll it up on to gain access to the wall and storage for rolling stock I'd previously installed there. In the alternative, the same type of fabric (or vinyl) backdrop could be taped to or permanently installed like wallpaper directly on the wall (if it's smooth enough) or mounted on some form of thin stiff backing that can be affixed to or hung in front of the wall.

Now as it happened, I was lucky enough to reasonably quickly find a stock background picture I was satisfied with, one that met my needs with only a few minor tweaks. If your needs are more complex (or if you're a perfectionist!), tools exist to create a custom collage of images that will match your vision for your planned layout, but you'll either need to develop those "limited computer skills" or find a friend who can do the image manipulation needed to come up with an image or images meeting your needs. The same supplier who fabricated my background (and, I'm sure, any local alternative) would be happy to print up your own custom image(s), in whatever size you desire. Depending on your layout configuration, you can either have the backdrop printed in sections, or you may need to plan on dismembering the print into more manageable sections for installation.

The one additional caution I'd offer is to be sure the graphic you have printed is as high resolution as you can create, especially if you are going to spread that image over a lot of real estate! Most stock photos offered by sites like the one I used are optimized to be printed large, but if you're 'rolling your own', just be sure to *start* with high-resolution photos or graphics. What may look perfectly adequate on a computer screen or printed on a sheet of paper may turn blocky and pixillated when blown up yards wide and hung behind your layout! You have been warned . . .

In any event, good luck!

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  • Screenshot 2021-08-10 at 02-03-49 Fashion Mountain Outdoors Photography Backdrops Attractive Vinyl The Journey Theme Backgr[...]
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I just finished installing mine. They are from backdrop warehouse.com. Not the easiest website to use as its quite outdated. But they have a lot of scene options, many of which are taken from the Colorado Rockies. Quality and clarity of the prints are outstanding. Half of mine Mine are 12ft long by 36" high. The other half are 12ft long by 42" high. They are mounted using painters tape against the drywall and double sided carpet tape sandwiched between. This give a firm hold while protecting the drywall and makes it possible to remove and reposition if needed.

- Jason

@jdstucks posted:

I just finished installing mine. They are from backdrop warehouse.com. Not the easiest website to use as its quite outdated. But they have a lot of scene options, many of which are taken from the Colorado Rockies. Quality and clarity of the prints are outstanding. Half of mine Mine are 12ft long by 36" high. The other half are 12ft long by 42" high. They are mounted using painters tape against the drywall and double sided carpet tape sandwiched between. This give a firm hold while protecting the drywall and makes it possible to remove and reposition if needed.

Nice installation, Jason! I like the idea of an easily moveable, low risk mounting strategy -- always handy if your layout is in flex space that may at some point be called back to other uses!

John,

My strong and unreserved recommendation is Railroadbackdrops.com

IMG_0531IMG_1237LIMG_1548

Proof Panel 5 - East View Block Panel 54-5 x 120 inches steel mill -2

These are vinyl.  You can get them with or without sticky backing.  A bit pricey, but worth every penny.  James Adams will work with you to provide what you need and make you happy.  Backdrop Warehouse?  No, no, and H*** no.     Total PITA website, refusal to answer their phones, respond to messages or answer questions.  I barely tolerate fools, let alone reward them.

George

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  • Proof Panel 5 - East View Block Panel 54-5 x 120 inches steel mill -2
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I am very pleased with the backdrops I20200226_213244-220191130_104419 purchased from our Forum sponsor, Railroadbackdrops.com.  They were responsive, promptly shipped what I purchased, and otherwise met my needs.

I opted for the most economical form of backdrops consisting of paper only, and I simply mounted them on the walls using double stick tape.

I think they are quite nice, but then again, I'm not fussy about my scenery and do not pretend to have a high degree of realism or have everything in scale.

My layout has tubular O Gauge track out of scale and many post war accessories that are way too big to be in scale. I embrace my toy like track and accessories and only strive to create an impression of something to be entertaining. I also am a bit lazy and don't want to work hard at my scenery, which I would need to do to make it realistic with everything in scale. Arnoldo

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Last edited by Arnold D. Cribari
I opted for the most economical form of backdrops consisting of paper only, and I simply mounted them on the walls using double stick tape.

I think they are quite nice, but then again, I'm not fussy about my scenery and do not pretend to have a high degree of realism or have everything in scale.

My layout has tubular O Gauge track out of scale and many post war accessories that are way too big to be in scale. I embrace my toy like track and accessories and only strive to create an impression of something to be entertaining. I also am a bit lazy and don't want to work hard at my scenery, which I would need to do to make it realistic with everything in scale. Arnoldo

I like your backdrops as well, Arnoldo. Don't know what the increment would have been, but for long-term durability I think you might have been better to upgrade to polyester or vinyl, especially if your layout is in a dusty or smudge-prone area, but paper is more than adequate. Did it come as one large section, or several smaller pieces that have to be fitted together (aside from obvious corners)?

As for O gauge and realism, I think your sentiments are clearly in the mainstream of O gaugers: if ultimate realism is your sole (or at least primary) goal, O gauge (at least the legacy 3-rail stuff) is not the best or obvious place to start. I suspect most of us O gaugers started with it as kids, or at least wished we could, if we'd had bigger allowances! Many of us just fully embrace the "toy" aspect of our hobby, happily trading realism for nostalgia, and any realism we create is largely incidental and as you said, usually suggested rather than rigorously implemented. Nonetheless, some of us strive for as much realism as possible, which, given the starting point and structure of legacy equipment, is always bound to fall short, but at least gives us a chance to play with the tools and techniques of quality model landscaping -- a sort of Sisyphean task, but IMHO enjoyable in its own right as long as perfection is not your only criteria. When you get right down to it, most O gaugers, and especially us legacy modelers, are sort of the anti-"rivet counters" of our hobby, and proud of it!

@Mike CT posted:

Some Sherwin Williams wall paper, and my sweetheart with her paint brushes, Bob Ross technique.

Layout painting.    Click on the underlined, to access a Photobucket file.  Eagle was a special request.

Great idea, and it's so much fun when you can paint your own backdrop. I did that for a simple backdrop showing close and distant foliage and trees, sky, clouds and distant mountain shown below.

I struggled with the mountain, but my older sister who had artistic talent, painted it wit water colors in 5 seconds.

My other painted backdrops were done with acrylic paints by me, going over it many times until satisfied.

i will try to find another photo of a handprints backdrop, and if I do, I will post it shortly.

IMG_1518IMG_0644IMG_0174

IMG_0983

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