Creating Rock Scenery Class

A key component in turning a model railroad track plan into a layout is realistic scenery.

Regardless of what part of the world you model, there is a high probability that the terrain includes some rocks. Whether they are huge mountains, bluffs over a river, or a shallow rock cut through rolling hills, rocks are a common element in scenery nearly everywhere. Adding rockwork, therefore, is a great way to add realism to your model railroad layout.

In this class, Creating Rock Scenery, you’ll learn how to add rockwork to your layout. You will be introduced to the tools and materials you’ll need to cast your own rocks, install them on your layout, and blend them into the surrounding scenery.

In the class, you’ll see rockwork added to existing scenery, but the techniques presented will work equally well if you are working on new scenery.

You’ll learn how to plan your scene so your rocks look natural but do not interfere with your railroad’s operations. You will learn how to cast your own rocks from plaster and install them realistically on your layout. You will see multiple techniques for filling in the area behind your rockwork to prepare for the surrounding scenery. You will learn how to create the scenic base for the surrounding scenery as well.

Once installed, you’ll see how rocks can be colored to look very realistic and match rockwork in your area or in reference photographs. Finally, you will learn how to add scenery texture and other elements to complete the scene.

With the techniques and skills you’ll learn in Creating Rock Scenery, you will be equipped to add beautifully realistic rock scenes to your layout.

In addition to your video instruction, you’ll get a helpful Class Guide PDF that you can print out use as a reference as you plan for, and work on, your rock scenery.


Printable Class Guide PDF
Download this Guide as a reminder of the key details you’ll see in the video instruction.

Video: Meet Your Instructors
Download this short video to meet your class instructors, Doug Hodgdon and Mike Swiridow.

Session 1: Introduction

This introduction will provide you with an overview of the example rockwork project for the class. You will also be introduced some of the materials and supplies you’ll be working with as you create your own rockwork.

Session 2: Tools and Materials

Gathering the right supplies in advance saves a great deal of time and frustration. In this session, you’ll be introduced to the materials you will need to cast your own rock work, install it on the scene, color it realistically, and blend it into the surrounding scene.

Session 3: Planning the Scene

Planning is the key to success. The best way to create a scene that is pleasing to the eye and operationally viable is to plan it out well in advance. In this session, you will see how to plan the placement of your rockwork in relation to track and other scenic elements. You will also learn the importance of preparing for the mess that can be created as scenery is built.

Session 4: Installing the Rocks – Part 1

In this initial installation phase, you’ll see how to attach rocks to your scenery base. Here’s where your prior planning will pay off as a guide to installing the rocks in just the right location.

Session 5: Filling in with Expandable Foam

In this session, you’ll see the value of expanding construction foam as one method for filling in the voids behind rockwork to support the surrounding scenery.

Session 6: Creating the Contours

With the rocks installed and the area behind the rocks filled, this session will show you how to apply the scenic base material and prepare it for subsequent scenery.

Session 7: Installing the Rocks – Part 2

In this session, you’ll learn how to extend your rockwork by adding subsequent vertical layers of rocks. You will see a second method for filling the void behind the rockwork and more details on preparing the surrounding scenery base. You will also learn some great techniques for blending the rocks together and maintaining a great looking rock texture at the same time.

Session 8: Rock Coloring

Coloring will make or break the realism of your rockwork. Here, you’ll learn methods for using pigment washes or stains to get very realistic results to match the rocks of the area you are modeling.

Session 9: Scenic Finishing

In this final session of Creating Rock Scenery, you’ll learn how to tie it all together as you add texture and color to the surrounding scenery with ground cover. You will also learn how to bring the scene to life using trees, talus, and other scenic elements.

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9 Responses to “Creating Rock Scenery Class”

  1. Steven Ruple

    Thank you so much for sending me this excellent “creating rock scenery class”.This is just what I needed to see when I’m ready to start my scenery. Lots of excellent ideas and I liked the step by step process showing the procedure from start to finish. This will help me tremendously in forming my rock scenery. Thank you again !!!!!!

  2. Jason M Stussy

    Very interesting and informative. My only question, though, is how I would go about creating a rock cut around a track that is on an incline. Would I need to add foam/etc. at higher portions of the incline, or could I simply set down the pieces of rock casting along the incline?

    • Customer Service

      Hi Jason,

      Here is what our expert had to say:
      I’d say that you could continue the vein of the rock along the incline and it would be fine.
      If another layer of material was underneath the rock vein, the railroad engineers might use a retaining wall as an example.
      Let me know how it works out.

      Model Railroad Academy

  3. Ed Downes

    Lots of good ideas to create rock scenery. Liked the step by step process showing the proceedure from start to finish.