How to Design Your Own Model Railroad Scenery

How to Design Your Own Model Railroad Scenery

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Model railroad scenery adds an element of realism like no other feature of a model train layout. The hills, lakes, streams, and trees provide a way to transport yourself to a different place and time. Using some of the tips that follow will allow any beginning hobbyist to add a unique touch to any railroad layout.

Many materials for creating the scenery of a model railroad layout are available commercially and this makes the job of designing your layout very easy. Everything from pine trees to the largest deciduous trees are available in the market of model railroad scenery. You can even find pre-fabricated hillsides and lakes. All in all, it can be very easy to put your model railroad scenery together if money is not a problem.

If you are a hobbyist who is on a budget, then it is quite easy to make your own scenery from scratch. An example of this can be seen in a method that quickly gives you a solid mountain form on a layout. To make a mountain for your layout, simply ball up a few wads of aluminum foil and glue them to the top of your layout where you would like a mountain. You can then cover the foil by painting it with a thin coat of plaster of Paris and then paint the mountain with a little green and brown paint. Once this is done, you can spray it with a thin coat of watered down glue and sprinkle crushed floral foam over it to simulate grass. The overall look will simulate a decent sized mountain on any N scale or HO scale layout.

While mountains can be made easily, rivers and lakes can be made just as quickly. It is possible to make a simple river or lake by laying out strips of wax paper cut in the shape of your river or lake. Then you can paint over this with a mixture of dark blue and white paint that has been put together in such a fashion that the two colors haven't fully blended with one another. As you paint this onto your wax paper, do the painting in such a way that you are pouring the mixture on more than you are painting it on to the paper. This method for making model railroad scenery will create a look that gives a layout a realistic river or lake.

In addition to making rivers and mountains, the way that you position your buildings can help to improve the look of your scenery.

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By placing small buildings toward the back of your layout and larger buildings toward the front of it, you can create a look that simulates real life depth perspective. On top of this, you will want to place your large trees toward the front of your layout and the small trees on the top of mountains and toward the back of your layout in order to further enhance the depth perspective. By doing this, you will give your layout a feel that is almost life-like when people view it.

As you build your layout, you will find that these tips help you save money on your model railroad scenery. Besides this, your layout will have a style so close to real life that it will be absolutely amazing. In the end, using these scenery tips will greatly increase your enjoyment of the model railroading hobby.


Personal Experience

“Building Realistic Model Train Scenery – Mountains and Rivers,” The Model Railroader

“The Basics of Model Train Scenery,” Model Railways Info

“Model Train Scenery,” Building Your Model Railroad
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