MRA Editors

Adding Details to a Flat Model Train Layout

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Duration:   14  mins

Certain model railroad scenes are bound to be flat and empty; not all portions of a railroad can have the bustling downtown or the narrow pass with the severe drop off. But just because a model train layout doesn’t have any towering mountains or expansive bridges doesn’t mean it has to be boring. You can easily take a flat and open model train layout and make it more interesting simply by adding small details that give the scene some evidence that people live and work in the area.

Your goal with these little human touches is to keep your viewer engaged and take their attention away from the fact that the majority of this portion of your scene is horizontal. In this lesson, NMRA Expert Modeler Gerry Leone teaches you how to incorporate minor details into your model train layout to make it appear more vertical and visually captivating. Let’s see how he does it!

Making your model train layout more vertical

Once you’ve broken up a largely horizontal model train layout by filling large gaps with features such as buildings, roads and parking lots, the next step is to add those minor details that let viewers know human beings inhabit the scene. To do so, Gerry Leone introduces a few of his favorite techniques for making a model train layout appear more vertical and a little better spaced.

First things first, Gerry teaches you how to use trees and other foliage to dress up the areas around the buildings you’ve inserted into your model train layout. You can quickly add verticality to a scene with well placed bunches of trees, bushes and undergrowth, so Gerry demonstrates the proper technique for adding these green touches to your model train layout. It’s hard to go wrong with trees — generally, the more you plant, the fuller the scene appears.

After sprucing up the area with some greenery, Gerry shows you how to go one step further in making a model train layout look lived in by staging mini scenes that draw the attention of your viewers. Figurines, automobiles and signs are perfect for filling spaces and creating intrigue, as well as boxes, junk and other items that give that sweet human touch we’re after. Find out what else Gerry likes to use on his scenes to make them come to life!

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3 Responses to “Adding Details to a Flat Model Train Layout”

  1. JOHN

    Would it be better to ballast the track befor doing these details?

  2. terry howley

    noted that there are several vehicles in this scene in the yard with no crossings for vehicles to traverse the tracks ?

  3. Michael

    Where's your track ballast, Gerry? ;-)

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