Trompe l’oeil

Scenery Saturday 3


The French phrase ‘trompe l’oeil’ literally means to deceive the eye. It is an art technique that uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions. And that is what so many of us aim to achieve in our model railroading… it’s sure my goal.

I have always marveled at the work of masters like Mike Confalone and his Allagash layout. One of the scenes I love is his St. Regis Paper Mill and his use of photo backdrops is inspired. I have been playing around with this technique for my port scene and the 3D effect is pretty amazing. When adding a ‘real’ element in front of the photo, the two seem to blend and it’s very hard to tell what is or is not ‘real’.


I found an image of a ship unloading gravel on a website called that I liked and thought might work, so I contacted the photographer, explained my interest and requested the right to use the image for personal (non-revenue) reasons . Many thanks to Jack Rolands who sent me a hi-res digital image with his bemused best wishes. Once again proving that there is nothing that can’t be found online.


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