Tuesday 5 February 2019

Other Side ......Other story

It all started way back in December 2006. For those of you who get a copy of the Australian Model Railway magazine and have the February 2019 issue will now realise that the last "Other Side of the Tracks' pictoon has been published.
I had put together some scenes taken on the old HO layout and put them up on the Railpage forum way back in 2006. There were only a few but enough for some to comment that maybe I should approach the editor of the AMRM magazine and see if they were suitable for publication.
Knowing a bit about the editor James McInerneys' demeanor they were sent to him and he replied that yes they would be OK for publication.
The first one that was published was one using my daughters mobile Nokia phone. It was placed on a flat wagon and then parked beside an engine where the crew spotted it and made their comment re its size. Phones of today may be of similar size but way more refined.
All 74 of the published pictures were made on my HO South Coast layout. I had made a recent sea change and decided to model the Victorian narrow gauge 2' 6" lines in On30 but still based in New South Wales. This change meant that the old layout had to be demolished and the 'stage' for the 'Other Sides' would vanish.
Some of the pictoons are obscure, some straightforward. When I would produce a pictoon and have it nearly ready I would then show my wife for any comments. She is not really into railways but knows how I operate and if she 'gets' it then it passes the pub test as they say.
I have commented often in my blogs that I often went into the train shed with no set project to do in mind but sometimes this would result in a scrawled note, maybe just a few words
My rough notes for the 'Other Sides'
 on an A4 sheet of paper. On the notes above can be seen crosses where the note has been translated into a pictoon. Some never made it to the printed pages - the note 'soldiers looking for the road to Hastings' was going to have a bunch of appropriately dressed soldiers asking some road workers if they knew where the road to Hastings was as they were running late for a battle. I tried for ages to obtain some HO soldiers to do it but never found any, so that was one that never made it to the magazine. I only needed a few words on paper to jog my memory on what the next pictoon would consist of.
Some ideas never made it to the note pad at all, some went straight into production. I think most of the results came out alright in publication. I don't consider myself as a photographer, often using the term 'f' stops as the first letter of another word when something went wrong. Looking through the rear viewfinder of the camera often didn't show up flaws that were quite noticeable when viewed on a 24" monitor. Rather than return to the shed at times I would use Corel Photopaint (poor mans Photoshop) and do a few adjustments to the picture. Things as simple as fixing up scratches on figures or seeing a bit of extra dirt on a platform that was magically cloned with another good bit somewhere in the picture.
Having prepared the picture to get it nearly ready to be sent in, lastly I would then take it into CorelDraw and add the borders, add the necessary words, put in the 'last line' and then print a copy off. Only for variety I decided early in publication to change the border colours. There was no rhyme nor reason to the colours I just thought it looked better.
I also used the font called 'Comic Sans' just the name says it all.
Another idea I had for a pictoon was the last one that was published in the February 2019 edition. Maybe I had some DEB instant mashed potatoes for dinner that night and that then sparked the idea for another pictoon. The hard part was actually finding a small truck that could be overturned. I must have been looking for around two years and finally found one at Frontline Hobbies up near Newcastle when out on a train trip one day. The actual model was an OO scale but as it was going to be on its side this was not going to be a problem. It was also brand new (as expected) and I had to weather it up to make it look like it had been carrying potatoes. And to finish off a back tailboard sign was printed and stuck on. I had to borrow a 900 class (known as a DEB set) from Marcus Amman for the photo shoot, I promised it wouldn't come back covered in mashed potato. This hopefully made the shot authentic, although a lot of this local content would be lost on overseas and possibly interstate readers. The 'last line' was a quick flash to the brain where I could use the term 'spud' (Self propelled underfloor drive) to finish it all off.

It was sad to finish the series off and I would have extended the series had the HO layout still been around. Just to keep my safety valve working I have created a different series called "Owen Thirtys Neighbourhood" for the On30 layout. This will be random and just added when an idea pops into my head, certainly won't be a prolific as the HO version.
So after the effort of producing "The Other Side of the Tracks" and it now coming to an end I decided I would like to preserve them in some way. I have now put a link on the top right hand side of the SCR blog that will link to the pictoons. They will be done around five at a time but also will have an 'explanation' to some of the background of how they came about.
Keep reading the blog and check out the link from time to time. 
I hope you have enjoyed them as much as I have creating them and they will all eventually be published on line. A further bonus is that there some that were created but never published in the magazine.
The first five can now be viewed with the link and also the introduction to the series in the December 2006 issue of AMRM.