Having (finally) come to a point where I think have 'enough' (is there really ever enough? :-) ) buildings to start putting my city together, the question of how to tie together various buildings- from different manufacturers- needs to finally be answered. Specifically, how to create a city scene with consistent looking sidewalks especially since most manufacturers have various ways of adding (or not) this feature to the structure.
Its very apparent that just using the 'default' sidewalks from various structures, and patching the gaps for those buildings without sidewalks, just won't look right. You also may, as I do, want to add street lights and other features. Additionally, given that every building in my city now has electricity (this is a modern city after all!) that means a LOT of wires need to be managed.
My solution is to create 'city blocks' that will have all the various buildings attached to the 'block' and allow for me to create a consistent sidewalk look. In addition, by unifying multiple buildings on one piece of 'city block', I can more easily manage the various electrical wires and connections.
In order to have 'sidewalks' that sit flat, are sturdy enough to hold multiple buildings, and stand up to the drilling etc... (to allow for the holes for the electrical wires) it has to be thin and rigid. The best choice I found is 1.5mm styrene sheets. According to some online scale calculators I used, where 1.9mm = 1 foot, then my sidewalk height is around 7 inches, which seems to be about right (and visually it looks good, see photo next to car).
As for how to set up my city block, I tried different combinations of buildings; looking for the best combination of height, width, and length, to give the appropriate affect. The photo shows a mock up of what I think will be 'city block #1'. The overall dimensions of this block are 8" x 16", a second block (not shown) is a bit wider at 9" x 16".
After determining the dimensions for my city blocks, I carefully cut the corners using a coin as a guide. I then made very light 'grooves' in the styrene for the sidewalk markings. I made a very small 'outline' for the curb around the entire outside edge, and then added in a grid of small, light grooves with the hobby knife for the main sidewalk part itself.
I used a 'concrete' colored spray paint from the local hobby shop. After that dried, I used some diluted Citadel black and brown ink (the Games Workshop brand, but I think any dilated paint would work just as well) to darken the grooves I made with the knife earlier.
I'll post some photos of the sidewalks and 'city blocks' once I've attached the buildings (the plan is to use hot glue to attach them, but not sure how well that will work) lights, and everything is all wired up!