MRA Editors

Creating Model Railroad Scenery Trees from Nature

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Duration:   8  mins

When creating landscape scenery for your model railroad layouts, the goal should always be realism, i.e. using objects that appear as lifelike as possible. To capture a scene that is most realistic, modelers generally utilize scratch-built or commercial elements, or, in some cases, the real things themselves. For model railroad scenery trees, the latter is almost always the best option, if you have them at your disposal. All it takes is stepping into the woods and doing a little searching. In this lesson, we’ll teach you why there’s nothing better for creating model railroad scenery trees than real, dead trees.

How to find natural model railroad scenery trees

To help you build out a more realistic wooded landscape for your model layouts, NMRA Expert Modeler Gerry Leone introduces a few expert tips he likes to use to create impressive middleground model railroad scenery trees and dead foliage.

Gerry begins his demonstration by talking a bit about how you might utilize natural foliage and where you can find the ideal types to be used as model railroad scenery trees. While dead plants such as goldenrod stand out too much to be the focal points of your landscape, they can make for excellent middleground model railroad scenery trees and act as fillers to thicken a forest or accent a treeline. Gerry teaches you how to either use goldenrod as it is or spray paint it depending on the goal of your model railroad scenery trees. Or, as an alternative if you can’t find any of the real thing near you, most hobby stores carry plastic goldenrod.

Lastly, Gerry explains how you might use dead roots and chopped leaves to simulate in scale fallen leaves and branches. To do so, he talks about the proper way to treat these elements with a mixture of alcohol and glycerin in order to make them less brittle and keep them from crumbling. Utilize these and other of Gerry’s techniques to make your model railroad scenery trees look more realistic and take your layout to the next level!

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