Modeling From Afar


In-between construction of the Iowa River Bridge and making sure that my track plan as built will support the ops as planned, I’ve been able to test out my photo backdrop methods for The Hills Line.

Since my modeled locale is a two-hour drive away, I’m relying on Google Streetview photos for a lot of the background images (and probably a few foreground structures) to complete the scene. The first test is for the aforementioned Iowa River crossing between Hills and Iowa City.


The key to effectively using Streetview photos is Google Earth Pro. Earth Pro allows you to save images to your desktop at varying image sizes, up to 4K (4000 px). The large image size comes in handy when I resample the resolution from 72 to 300 dpi for printing. I’m able to take several consecutive shots along a scene and stitch them together in Photoshop into one continuous panorama.


Previously I had used Streetview photos for the ML King Parkway overpass in Des Moines for my IAIS Grimes Line layout, since I didn’t want to play frogger on a busy street to get the right angles.

After I worked up the quick scene in Photoshop, I printed it out on plain copy paper and placed it against the backdrop. First results are promising, but I still need to see what it will look like with the trimmed tree line instead of the digital removal.

I know that this method won’t get me everything I need, and I’ll need to make several trips out east to photograph key structures and scenes, but this is a great method for modeling from afar.

2 thoughts on “Modeling From Afar

  1. James did you scratch build that beautiful Lattice Truss bridge? I need to do one one my C&NW which used them system wide.


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