Review of Diorama Design

My book, Diorama Design, has just been reviewed in the Winter 2019 edition of The Potomac Flyer. This is a quarterly publication of the Potomac Division, NMRA (National Model Railroad Association). The review is by Nicholas Kalis, a veteran NMRA model railroader and author who has written many articles devoted to the hobby. 

Mr. Kalis does a great job in his review of discussing how the principles in Diorama Design apply not only to dioramas, but to model railroads as well. After all, a scenic model railroad can be thought of as a diorama enlivened by the motion of miniature trains. I wrote about this in a previous post.  

Unlike two-dimensional art forms like painting and photography, dioramas and model railroads share a sculptural aspect and a reach-out-and-touch-it physical presence. They also utilize similar construction techniques and materials. Above all, modelers in both camps share a common interest in creating visually compelling miniature environments.

Based on these similarities, Mr. Kalis makes a strong case that model railroad aficionados can benefit from the concepts outlined in Diorama Design. So if you’re a model railroader looking to add some visual punch to your layout, you may want to check out the book. It’s available in both ebook and print formats at Amazon. 

Thanks to Mr. Kalis for sharing his insights from the world of model railroads, and for taking the initiative to write the review. You can read it here

-Ivar

The RBG Escarpment Train

The Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG) is a major tourist attraction in Burlington, Canada. As the name implies, the focus of RBG is horticulture. However, the site also features a G gauge (1:29 scale) model railroad layout, which was donated to RBG by Norman and Jackie Wells of Burlington in 2017. 

Known as the RBG Escarpment Train, the specs are impressive: nine diesel and two steam locomotives, 122 metres of track, and 476 figures on a 37 square metre layout. Although the sheer size of the layout commands attention, what really makes it memorable is the varied topography. There’s an intriguing mix of hills, valleys, tunnels and bridges, with lots of variation in height. Creating a continuous run track plan with this much of a vertical span is quite challenging, and the RBG Escarpment Train succeeds beautifully. 

Varying the topography accomplishes the same goal in both railroad layouts and dioramas. It creates visual interest. Multiple levels are always more interesting than one level. Unless you’re in the desert or in the middle of a lake, you generally see topography all around you. It’s part of nature, so employing it in a layout or diorama will also contribute to the realism of the scene you’re creating.   

The layout incorporates full lighting, allowing visitors to enjoy nighttime as well as daytime views of the exhibit. The nighttime version is especially striking.

The RBG Escarpment Train lives up to its name and is definitely worth a visit (more info at www.rbg.ca) next time you’re in Southern Ontario. Even if you’re not a gardener!

If you like to build dioramas and want to learn more about how to optimize the visual impact of your work, you might like my book, Diorama Design. It’s available in both ebook and print formats at Amazon.

-Ivar