Friday, April 17, 2009

Monetize Your Miniatures; Commercial Clutter on Front Street

I want my Western Town to look like someone lives there. A western town's Front Street (a.k.a. The Row) was no different than Main Street, or "The Strip" is today in a town like Ruidoso, Laramie, or Durango. Advertising is and was rampant, and the thing missing from my town until recently has been the commercial clutter that is the inevitable result of economic activity. In short, I have begun to "monetize" my buildings.

Of course you must have a sign on any commercial buildings. Most lettering in those towns was simple, but examples of fancy brushwork can be found easily enough. Time-Life books and internet image searches should give you plenty of examples to paint your own signs from. If you don't have a steady hand, make your own signs in Photoshop and print them on cardstock. 

Smaller signs were everywhere on commercial buildings in the Old West. It seems that everyone sold cigars or tobacco and advertised the fact. Saloons might have signs proclaiming their Faro (card game), Billiards, Whiskey, or Dancing. 

My latest addition to the mining town of Knuckleduster is poster art. Large posters were "pasted" up by circus or theater promoters in advance of a show. 

Wanted posters certainly deserve a prominent place. It takes a bit of inestinal fortitude to permanently glue a piece of paper to the side of a model you just spent a week building, but the results are worth it and besides, life now or in the Old West is not tidy. 

Forrest Harris
Ol' Knuckleduster


  1. Hi Forrest

    I have been having trouble making signs the right scale. They are either too big or when reduced down loose too much detail.

  2. Hi Forrest

    I am having trouble making signs the right scale. They are eitehr too big or when reduced down loose detail.


  3. Is it a problem with the building's main sign, or with smaller accent signs? If it's the latter, I can certainly sympathize. The small signs on buildings are smaller than you might think. A wanted poster would certainly be no larger than half the height of a figure in your scale, so for a 28mm figure, it would only be about a half an inch high!
    Model railroaders demand far more precision in their scales than gamers do, and as a gamer I tend to exaggerate details like that to get the effect I want, regardless of whether it's a tad bit out of scale. That being said, it is inevitable that detail will be lost--just be sure to print out the sign at the highest resolution you can manage.