Backscenes 9 inch
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Frequently Asked Questions Page Three

The following was prepared as an article for publication and is presented here as it answers most common questions and provides guidance on creating your own backscene.

Creating a Photographic Backscene

Printing the Backscene

There are many printers who have wide format printing facilities but it can be very expensive to use a printer who does not have experience of producing backscenes or similar panoramic prints. Most traditional printers are used to producing prints on gloss or satin paper but a good backscene should always be printed on a matt paper.

Whilst printing a complete backscene in one piece may seem to be a good idea, this is the most complex and expensive way to print. If the images are correctly sized, a series of prints can be joined in an almost seamless way. We print to a width of approximately 60 inches as this minimises the joins whilst providing sections that are not too difficult to handle.

The medium on which your backscene is printed may also be important. Some commercial backscenes are printed on a very thin paper which can be difficult to fix. A heavy paper is better as it is almost self-supporting so requires a minimum of gluing to fix to your backboard.

If your layout is in an outside building you may experience damp which can affect a standard paper backscene. We had a customer in the USA who lives on the California/Nevada border who used a breeze block outbuilding for his layout. In the desert environment he found that a paper backscene bubbled during the night as the temperature fell and humidity rose. By the middle of the morning the bubbles had disappeared as the atmosphere dried. Even the water resistant paper that we use will swell slightly when it is damp so for such situations we recommend the use of a tough, fully waterproof polypropylene. In addition to being unaffected by moisture, this material does not stretch, is scratch resistant and self-adhesive so glue is not required.

Fitting your Backscene

Most prints are produced with small white borders and supplied rolled in a tube. There is no need to flatten a rolled print as it is easier to mount from a roll than as a flat sheet. Usually the top and bottom borders can be ignored but the ends need to be trimmed so that they will fit together. This can be done with scissors (preferably large wallpaper or tailoring scissors) but is best done with a scalpel or craft knife and a steel ruler on a cutting board. Care needs to be taken to make sure that the cut is right on the edge of the image so that it will join perfectly to the next sheet.

It is recommended that the backscene is unrolled onto the backboard and held in place using Bluetack, clothes pegs, etc. prior to gluing down the backscene so that you can make sure it runs straight. The first 4 to 6 inches of the backscene should be glued into place whilst it is stretched out. This anchors the backscene and ensure that it will run straight. Allow to dry if using a water based glue such as wallpaper paste or PVA then unclip the backscene and allow it to roll up again.

Mounting a backscene is not like applying wallpaper. When mounting paper backscenes, it is important to apply the glue to the backboard and not the backscene and to allow a few moments for moisture or solvent from spray glue to soak into the backboard before pressing the backscene into place.

Avoid using excess glue as you do not need to stick every square centimetre down and too much glue may lead to moisture affecting the paper. The backscene should be smoothed down using either a soft cloth or a brush. The backscene should be fixed a bit at a time. Apply glue to a section of the backboard say 8 to 12 inches long, pause for a few moments then smooth the backscene down. Repeat until the backscene is complete.

Taking time to fix the backscene will help to avoid problems and produce the best results. There is a wide range of ways to fix your backscene in place including:

Wallpaper paste or diluted PVA glue

Spray glue (my favourite)

Pritt Stick

Double sided tape

Glue Dots

Self-adhesive backscenes should be approached in exactly the same way. Instead of applying glue to 8 to 12 inches of backboard, pull back the protective film and smooth into position. We supplied one modeller with a 40 foot backscene in eight panels each 24 inches high on self-adhesive poly. He and his wife followed the advice and successfully mounted the whole backscene in one evening.

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