Building Realistic Model Scenery for Trains at Home

Lake Oconee Boomers

Building Realistic Model Scenery for Trains at Home

Model trains are a fantastic hobby that lets you utilize many parts of your brain simultaneously. You get to plan layouts, install electrical wiring, and make your own realistic landscapes, to name a few steps. Here are some ideas for building realistic model scenery for trains at home.

Making the Base

There are two easy ways of making your model landscapes. The first technique requires cardboard, plaster, aluminum foil, and hot glue. With the glue, you can build up layers of cardboard into the basic shape you want for your landscape. Then, cover the frame in plaster rocks made from aluminum foil molds. This technique makes for a rockier terrain.

For smoother terrain, you’ll need a few sheets of one-inch fiberglass insulation foam, which you can find at any hardware store (it’s usually pink or green). If you have a hot wire cutter, you can quickly shape the foam into pieces, building up hills, valleys, or rocky outcroppings. You can also use craft saws and blades, but a hot wire cutter is much faster.

Painting Your Landscape

For most landscapes, you’ll need acrylic craft paint in at least five or six shades. The easiest way to do this is to buy large bottles of black and white paint and the color you want for the primary color of your rocks (think gray, brown, and sand colors). Mix the black and white into the primary color to create different shades.

Start by painting the entire base in a very dark shade of your primary color. We recommend mixing in some Mod Podge or other craft glue to seal the base and make it water resistant. If you do this with each color, you won’t need to seal the finished base. Once you’ve covered the base, dry brush medium tones and highlights with a stiff brush until you like the results.

Decorating Your Terrain

You can easily use plaster or foam to make additional rocks to scatter across your scenery. We recommend using flocking to create grass and then adding trees, bushes, and shrubs for detail.

If you’re interested in building realistic model scenery for trains at home but aren’t sure what layout to make, try choosing a railroad theme first. This will help give you ideas, and you can look up pictures of example layouts for ideas.