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How To Create The Landscape For Your Model Railroad Layout

May 8, 2008
Obtaining all your supplies is just the start when it comes to model railroading. The next step is to do the landscaping with the help of foam spacers. They can be shaped to the design you'd like and then sealed with a fiberglass or hardener to protect them. A wire frame can be used to reinforce a larger landscape and some modelers will even bring in sand, dirt or stone for a more realistic look.

It is worth noting that the addition of real-life materials can actually diminish the authentic look that you may be trying to achieve because of the extra texture that is added. Most of the dirt isn't fine enough to give the look of "earth" in a miniature unless it is coated with a finer powder or dust. You will need to keep the scale in perspective and work up to the tallest items such as mountains. This will help to form the valleys and lakes or stream areas to make them seem more natural.

After doing the base, you can start to have a little fun. By painting all the surfaces, you will cover any extra glue and then you can begin to start to place items like stones and coverings. You can stipple on some grass with a fine brush to make it seem a little more realistic being careful to plan as you go.

For example, if you are adding a water feature, have a ragged edge infringing on the side of it instead of taking grass right up the edge of the water. In real life banks are washed away and tree roots are exposed from nature. By mimicking this, your project will look more realistic and please your viewers.

The easiest way to add the track is to just glue it down. The most realistic way is to make a bed of crushed rock and add wooden beams but this is very time consuming and not very common. You can even find software that will help you with your design and layout. Be careful to keep in mind that there will be maintenance and you will need to be able to access your tracks for cleaning and repairing at later times.

Last but certainly not least is the creation of vignettes or 'small scenes' " it is this which most model railroaders really live: to recreate in miniature the thousands of small scenes that make real life so endearing and turn our model railroads into wonders.

Choosing themes such as small cities or train stations that fit into your theme and building appropriate houses and edifices or buying them and placing correctly is critical " as is maintaining the proper scale. The human eye can note incredibly small differences in scale and proportion so staying true to your scale and theme is vital for a successful landscape.

There is much more we could discuss about landscapes but most likely you are ready to start playing " so put on your engineering caps and start thinking. Turning on the light is probably a good place to start - have fun!
About the Author
One of the most important parts of your landscape that's also one of the toughest to make look real is model railroad water. Get some creative tips for making realistic water at TheModelRailroader.com
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