If you have looked at this website carefully you may have noticed that I am not a rivet counter. What's a rivet counter? That is the guy who looks at your latest contest quality model and says, "its nice but actually after World War II those engines were produced with 28 rivets on the rear door except for the phase II a which had 30". Actually I have never met a rivet-counter. My experience is that all my fellow modelers are far too nice to ever say something so picky to me. The rivet-counter is a mythical being that is invoked to explain that you realize your models have limits and you are OK with it, as in "not being a rivet-counter or anything I didn't add EVERY detail".
So how much detail should I add? It is an easy question if you are building contest quality models. Every one. However, such a model can take a LONG time to build. If you are building a layout and take the attitude that it will be the best layout ever filled with contest quality modeling, then you had better get your children into the hobby in the hope they can have their children finally finish the layout as a generational project. On the other hand, too low a level of detail and the layout may not look interesting enough to you and you may get tired of it quickly.
As a compromise, I find that I like to finish a scene to a good-enough quality level on the first pass. Then I go back and add more detail later such as more grass, more trees, buildings, telephone poles, and barbed wire fencing. This also has the effect of renewing old scenes and giving them a fresh look. It lets me set up a whole new set of pictures to record the new look. I include an example of two pictures of the same area taken a year or so apart. The first is just after the scene was built and the later one after I added a lot more foliage.
In the same vein I never finish parts of the model you wonít see. Most of my buildings have nothing inside but a lightbulb. If I know the backside will never be seen, I probably wonít finish it. Most of my structures are kits that were close enough to the prototype to be believable. Otherwise I would need to scratch-build almost everything as the manufacturers of kits rarely ever come out with something just like the building I want. I do scratch-build signature buildings. But even these are mostly just representations from looking at old black and white photos and trying to guess dimensions and colors. It would be satisfying to be a true prototype modeler like Jack Burgess and his Yosemite Valley Railroad which as I understand it has nearly every rivet, but I just donít have the patience to research everything so thoroughly.
The goal is to get the whole layout finished so I can enjoy running the trains through the scenery. Eventually I hope to be able to run the trains through scenery with all the rivets correct. If you see a rivet out of place donít hesitate to let me know so I can put in on to-do list.
Version 1 of the desert scene
A later scene with barbed wire fencing and telephone poles added. Also fixed the mountains on the backdrop.