What's a carnival, circus or amusement park without people?
To create a realistic layout of an operating carnival, circus or amusement park, you need people. Lots of people! This can get expensive. An alternative to purchasing packages of prepainted figures, is to paint them yourself & save money.
I highly recommend Preiser figures. You can purchase packages of up to 130 figures for around $25. Preiser figures are super detailed & they have many different sets to choose from.
My favorite Preiser set is #16342 - Fair Visitors & Showmen. This set includes 60 figures & costs around $16. Included in the set are several children and figures that are custom made to fit rides such as the Swinger & Carousel. Also included are many showmen such as weightlifters, fire eaters, stilt walkers, sword swallowers, animal tamers, an organ grinder with monkey, ringmaster, ice cream seller with stand, and figures for a shooting gallery.
It does take patience to paint the tiny figures, but it is well worth the time. With the Fair Visitors & Showmen set, you can create many "mini scenes" throughout your layout. Create some stages & set up shows or create a parade scene.
Acrylic paint is my "paint of choice" for painting figures. Water based & quick drying, this type of paint gives a matte finish & can be mixed easily to create any color. There are many brands available such as: Apple Barrel & Folk Art. 2oz. bottles are usually under $1 & a little goes a long way.
Testors enamel model paint gives a durable & glossy finish. The gold & silver colors are great for creating small details, such as jewelry. Black creates great patent leather shoes.
Using your computer & printer to add detail to your ride models & layout:
Obviously your computer & printer can be used to create signage for your rides, carnival or park layout. Promotional posters in scale can be created from photos or scans.
This is especially helpful for those of you who are creating a layout based on an actual show or park.
Another use for your computer & printer in ride modeling, is to create detail that is difficult to paint by hand.
To create the look of striped awnings for the gondolas on my Faller Giant Wheel, I used a basic graphics program (Windows Paint) to create the stripes in colors matching the gondolas. I then printed out the striped swatches & trimmed them to fit using an exacto knife. I carefully glued them to the gondola tops & coated them with clear varnish.
This easy technique can also be used to create striped awnings for game booths & concessions.