MRA Editors

Build Model Railroad Scenery for Depth and Realism

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Duration:   4  mins

Here’s some great news for all you artistically challenged builders out there: adding realistic backdrops to your model railroad doesn’t require a degree in the arts or a great eye for detail. You no longer need craft lessons or expensive equipment to build model railroad scenery; thanks to photo-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop, adding real-world imagery to your model’s backdrop is as easy as copy and paste, print and cut.

In this video, to help you create the most lifelike model railroad possible, NMRA Master Gerry Leone teaches you a handful of simple tips for adding a bit of depth to your backdrop. All it takes to build model railroad scenery and reimagine your favorite real-world landscapes in 2D is some paint, a few stencils and a clear image. You get to the final say on how your backdrop looks, but the method will almost always be the same regardless of the scene you decide to develop.

How to build model railroad scenery for depth

The process for building model railroad scenery begins by picking where you want to set your railroad. Do you see your train traversing the cornfields of Iowa, or maybe chugging through the depths of a great forest, or perhaps sliding over the unending desert of Arizona? The method for building model railroad scenery remains the same no matter where you choose to have your train travel, but the work you put in will vary based on setting.

To demonstrate this, Gerry shows you how to go about building model railroad scenery for a train travelling through a repetitive landscape like fields of corn, beneath blue skies and an array of clouds. He walks you through the step-by-step process for painting the sky, stenciling clouds and editing and trimming a picture of corn stalks so the horizon lines up properly with the skyline and your scene.

Feel free to experiment with the way you build model railroad scenery; there are infinite ideas out there for setting the scene and making your model railroad unique. The choice is yours for how you want the landscape to look!

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