Brick Wall Decals

Hi,
I found an article while surfing the net by John Nehrich (sp?) who has a technique in which he uses a digital camera to get a picture of a brick wall,
adjusts it in Photoshop, and then prints it out onto decal paper. He then uses liberal amounts of Solvaset and presses the decals onto a plastic surface embossed with bricks. The results are pretty impressive and I thought I'd give it a try. Here's the link if you're interested.
http://www.trains.com/Content/Dynamic/Articles/000/000/001/715ixaad.asp .
Has anybody tried applying the brick decal paper onto smooth styrene sheets instead of an embossed brick surface? If the results look just as good, maybe I can save a few bucks. Or perhaps I can use smooth styrene on background buildings and the plastic brick for closer structures. Anyway, any helpful hints from your personal experiences would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks,
Kenny
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sheets
maybe
Save your money altogether. I tried it and was extremely disappointed.
I have an Alps printer, so I was able to print not only the colors but the whites, too. I took a great shot of a brick wall with a fading, painted sign on it. I used that.
I printed out a decal and put it on a Walthers plastic brick sheet. I must've used half a bottle of Micro-Sol to get the decal to settle into the mortar lines. The result was: if you stood back 6-inches from the wall, you couldn't tell the decal was on an embossed surface -- it looked like a flat printout on paper. Big disappointment.
So I tried it on the coarsest bricks I could find: Holgate & Reynolds (which is unavailable any more). It looked only slightly better. At 6-inches, you could see the embossing of the brick giving some texture to the brick decal. It looked kind of neat, but it didn't blow me away, as I had expected. One foot away and you were hard-pressed to see the embossing. Any farther than that, and it appeared to be a flat printout on paper.
I guess I don't know what I expected, but it just didn't have the realistic texture I thought it would. Now I'll admit -- I'm extremely picky about details. But it seems to me you could get the exact same effect by just printing out a picture of a brick wall and pasting it on some cardboard.
Your mileage may vary.
-Gerry Leone http://home.earthlink.net/~gerryleone/trains.htm
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Hi,
That's too bad - I was really fired up after reading that article.
One final question - did you experiment with using photos of the bricks taken under different lighting conditions? I'm wondering if the presence/absence of shadows in the original photo influences the final appearance when applied to embossed brick.
Great website, by the way.
Thanks,
Kenny
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Me, too, as was a friend of mine. Couldn't wait to try it.

I actually only tried it with that one photo.
Here's the bottom line the way I see it: the 'thinned paper" signs (a la George Sellios) work so well on a brick wall because the signs themselves are flat (solid chunks of color) and reasonably un-busy. The flatness of the blocks of color allows the texture of the bricks to be seen via highlights of your room lights.
On the other hand, with a photo of a highly textured, highly colored surface -- like bricks -- all the subtle texture of the plastic scale bricks gets completely lost.
Believe me, I *wanted* this to work and expected it to be the coolest effect I'd ever seen. That's why the fall was so far when it just didn't work.

Hey, thanks very much!
-Gerry Leone http://home.earthlink.net/~gerryleone/trains.htm
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Gerry, I'm not sure if I understand exactly what it is you were disappointed with about your wall. Was it mainly not being able to see any texture? Or was it the overall effect?
I'm just asking because you said that you started with a great looking photo. What didn't you like about it once it was applied? If it was the lack of actual texture, doesn't the suggested texture in the photo help to compensate for it?
I thought the structures in the article John Nehrich wrote looked fantastic, but since I've never tried it, I've always wondered how well it would look in person. That's why I'm curious as to what you didn't like.
Jim
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Exactly -- lack of real, discernable texture.
And, Jim, you answered the question without realizing it: the suggested texture in the photo does help to compensate for any lack of "real" texture of the plastic bricks.
But you're seeing a photo of texture, versus real texture. It would be like pasting a photo of a stucco wall to a model -- you're seeing a picture of lumps, but not real lumps.
That's the problem -- as I see it -- with the brick wall technique: if you eliminate the plastic brick substrate you don't alter the effect one iota. Hence, you may as well just print a photo of a brick wall on some flat paper and paste it on a piece of styrene or Strathmore. You're never seeing the real texture of the bricks.
Believe me, I'm not dis-ing John Nehrich, who is twice the modeler I'll ever hope to be. But perhaps the article made me believe that the result would be a textured, painted scale brick wall, and the actual result was a scale brick wall, with a picture of bricks on it.
Maybe it falls short because when you're seeing a photo of texture it doesn't "shift" when you move your vantage point. I dunno.
Again, these are just my opinions.
-Gerry Leone http://home.earthlink.net/~gerryleone/trains.htm
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On 15 Apr 2004 12:21:50 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@earthlink.net (Gerry) purred:

    The thing is bricks and stone walls texture vanishes when scaled down to Ho or N scale. O is about as small as you can get and still find a measurable texture. most "brick" material used for models is hilariously outsized, especially the mortar lines.

    I used to use textured surfaces built found, the smaller the scale got the more obvious the model became. By the time I had shrunk things to HO size there was no way the surface textures used in most models were even vaguely realistic.

    And that is the secret to realism in smaller scales. Texture scales and, once that scale becomes close to zero, only a good photo can replicate it. I use well lighted photos of texture, scanned at high level and then composited to fit the surface and it looks absolutely perfect.     Now the trick part is the lighting. You have to shoot the surface at the same angle the viewer will se it at and you have to perfectly match the lighting conditions the model will be seen under. If the sun is at a specific angle and intensity, you need to match that in your picture. If the model will be seen at an angle it needs to be photographed from that angle and matched to the foreshortening and fade that will be apparent to the eye of the viewer. It is a bit of a pain but the calculations are pretty easy once you get used to them. A good camera is nice but I have seen some spectacular work done with a pinhole lens and a conventional 35mm camera. for those with really good math and optics backgrounds you can even make the shots with an all cardboard camera (yes, they do exist and, in the hands of a skilled photographer, can produce work easily the equal of a good 35mm camera)

    Actually you are seeing the texture of the real bricks, just not the out of scale texture of the model bricks

    Exactly and that is why you need to control the viewer's "aperture" vis a vis such models. That is easy to do in my case but for most model railroads, can be tricky. It is much like using mirrors on a layout, they, too require the viewer see them from a very controlled angle and no other.
                                cat
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com (Kennynovak) wrote:

I used a similar technique to print the sign on this building: http://public.fotki.com/gizmologist/naugahyde_tannery/tannery.html I used a white painted brick texture and adjusted the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, etc. to get black (dark grey),white and orange painted brick textures and used those textures to draw the sign.
The printed texture is not noticeable enough to really be worthwhile.
I hd better luck with the cedar shake pattern on the middle house here:
http://photos.yahoo.com/jason_e_davies/residential/chickens.jpg
The colors were washed out on the decal but several washes of reddish grey fixed it.
--
Jason Davies
Master Gizmologist
  Click to see the full signature.
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