• Welcome to Westlake Publishing Forums.


    REGARDING MEMBERSHIP ON THIS FORUM: Due to spam, our server has disabled the forum software to gain membership. The only way to become a new member is for you to send me a private e-mail with your preferred screen name (we prefer you use your real name, or some variant there-of), and email adress you would like to have associated with the account.  -- Send the information to:  Russ at finescalerr@msn.com

Main Menu

Luke's Garage & Gas Station

Started by Stuart, June 29, 2022, 10:40:06 AM

Previous topic - Next topic


Amazing detail work! The parts look absolutely authentic.



Again, thank you all for your supportive remarks.  I do enjoy getting into the nitty-gritty of the details.

Let me take you back outside to the exterior of my garage/gas station and show a few more things.

First, a little discussion on my signage methods. 

Before I became aware that I could create my own decals, I spent some time trying to figure out how I was going to hand paint a sign with any degree of accuracy.  I did have access to a computer and several graphic programs and was able to create a layout I liked but just could not determine how I was to successfully transfer a paper print to the wood sign blank I had prepared.  Then I thought, maybe I could send my black and white image to a company that produces rubber stamps.  I would then apply paint or ink to the raised letters of the stamp and press the stamp onto my sign panel.  That seemed the best option available to me.  I tried it and it worked.  Some touch up was required here and there but it was easier and far more accurate than trying to do it by hand.


Later I discovered I could actually print my signs and lettering on decal paper (from Micro-Mark) and place them on my model.  Sooo much easier!  For the circular "Crown Gasoline" sign I purchased a full-size vinyl decal from a vintage gas pump supply house, scanned it, brought it down to the size I needed and printed my decals. 

The red "Gasoline" sign is also a decal but once printed, I cut it into strips to fit the width of each piece of clapboard siding.  As you might guess, the strips were very fragile once they were wet and the paper backing removed.  Some broke in process of applying them so I carefully had to piece them back together. Once all the decal strips were in place, I used a decal set solution to make sure they would adhere well to the wood surface and snuggle down into the grain. Once everything was dry, I used an Xacto blade to scrape away some of the decal surface to indicate peeling and aging.  Finally, I gave the whole area a coat of Dullcote to reduce the sheen of the decal film.


One more sign, on the inside of the garage door, directs motorists to apple orchards up the road a few miles.  When in Southern California I lived near apple country so couldn't resist the impulse to include a reference here on my model.  This too was an effort in Photoshop and printed on decal film.  A piece of thin styrene was used as a backing.

Wilshire Farms.jpg

Bill Gill

Stuart, Good looking signs and the rubber stamp technique worked really well for you.

Several years ago I had an article in RMC called "Letterbashing" It's a technique I put together to address the problem you noted about trying to handpaint tiny scale sized signs.

An overly simplified description of the method is that it uses a computer graphics program to chop up and rearrange computer fonts to create lettering that looks like hand lettering that a sign painter would have done.
The method can be used to create entire signs designed to fit specific locations and match specific time periods, and it can also be used to changed small parts of the lettering on photos of signs you have taken so that they can reflect the names or places you want and look like they were part of the original sign.

Here is an example that shows better than I can describe:
The top row of lettering is a computer font straight off the computer.
The middle lettering was "Letterbashed" to fit between those windows on that wall and to look a little older than the font. If you examine that lettering you will see that the individual letters were not simply stretched out horizontally to fill more space.
For the third row the original font was digitally "weathered" to blend into the wall better.

Bill Gill

Apologies, Stuart, I don't mean to hijack your topic, I just can't figure out how to add photos to my reply where I want.

So briefly, here is an advanced example of Letterbashing:
The original b&w photo of the billboard is not sharp enough and too uneven in value to simply blow up and colorize for a model sign. And the lettering was not good enough to try to trace.

The color version recreated all the quirks and errors in the original sign by letterbashing all the letters starting from several computer fonts. Note the name of the city and the population also were changed to fit the layout the sign was made for.


Bill--This is great. I would very much like to learn more about your letterbashing process. Is there a way I can get ahold of your article in Railroad Model Craftsman?

Bill Gill

Stuart, Unfortunately the article was published before White River Productions took over RMC and back copies from that time frame do not seem to exist.

Also that article got a bit mangled in editing, so it might not be the best introduction to the method. As an alternative shortly after it ran in the magazine, I wound up giving three different clinics on Letterbashing. They included live demonstrations of the technique where the participants could watch and ask questions. That seemed to go over better than written text and photos alone.

I can piece slides and my notes of one of the presentations back together and see if that will cover what you want. The clinics had two areas of focus. The first part looked at how signpainters typically approached a job. It's different than how most modelers think about making signs.

The second part demonstrated the nuts & bolts of bashing type fonts with a graphics program based on thinking like a sign painter would probably have the lettering look.

A couple questions will help tailor the info to your needs:

Do you have a graphics program you use? How familiar are you with it in general? I use GIMP exclusively. I'm not an expert. It's free, open source software similar to PhotoShop and it does more than I'll ever need for doing simple graphic stuff and editing photos.

What do you know about hand lettering? The fundamental premise behind letterbashing is that NO computer font can replicate the look of hand lettering, including fonts designed to do so. Hand painted signs have too many subtle and often not so subtle intentional and accidental variations.

Would you mind messaging or emailing or replying back & forth to make sure what's being presented is working for you?

Hmmm, I just discovered I still have the text and photos from the original article. I could put them together and email it all to you (will take several emails) and you can see if this is something you'd like to get more into.



I worked as a graphic artist the major part of my career so I am quite familiar with graphics programs.  Although now retired, I still have an old version of Photoshop I use rather extensively on my home computer.  And, yes I have some understanding of sign painting.  I know that hand letting is inherently imperfect.  Because of that I struggle with the exactness of computer generated fonts for signage.  It's just a little too clean and perfect to look right.

I would be fine with receiving information and guidance via email. My email address is: stuartgfx@hotmail.com.

Thank you for your willingness to resurrect old files to share with me.


Bill Gill

Stuart, your background definitely simplifies everything. What I think I'll try is editing the article text and photos and then post it as a new thread so your thread isn't sidetracked. It will take a little bit to put it together, but I think that can work well.


Hey Bill,  what year was that article in? My collection of RMC go back to 1964. Also like your idea of a separate thread.

New York, Vermont & Northern Rwy. - Route of the Black Diamonds

Bill Gill

Stuart and Bernd:
I started a new thread on Letterbashing here
under Tips, Tricks, Techniques and Tools

Bernd it's in the OCT 2010 RMC



I am trying to decide whether to add another piece of signage to my gas station.  It seems that gas stations of this era, and especially those out in the country, were a collection place for all manner of advertising signs.  This is a mock up of one I am considering but I'm a little worried it's somewhat overpowering.  Also, as Bill is suggesting, it would be a little more convincing if given the look of a hand painted sign.  I'm open for suggestions.

Bushel Basket Diner sign.jpg

Station signage.jpg 


You could approach it in two ways. The easiest would be just to add some weathering to the sign but I'd suggest shrinking it by 25-30% because, to my eye, it is too dominant. A smaller size might be even more desirable if you want to represent a hand painted appearance. -- Russ