Model road layouts add interest and realism to a model railroad. Just like in real life, roads can almost always be found near a railroad track. In this video, Gerry Leone, National Model Railroad Association’s Master Model Railroader gives his tips for creating model train roads. Leone starts by building a gravel road. His gravel roads are made from 60 grit sandpaper which is coarse and textured. The base is black foam core which has thicker pieces of paper on either side of the foam. 24 scale feet is what Leone typically uses for his model road layouts.
To cut the foam core, he takes an initial light pass with an exacto knife to score the paper and avoid shredding it. A heavy coating of spray adhesive is applied on the back of the sandpaper and the foam core is laid down after the adhesive has settled for a minute. When dry, he uses old kitchen shears to cut the excess sandpaper. He uses old shears because cutting the sandpaper will ruin scissors. A matte gray spray paint is then applied.
After being let to dry over a couple of days, a mix of one teaspoon india ink and a half pint of 91% isopropyl alcohol is dripped on. The ink will sink into lower areas of the sandpaper to highlight its grit. The surface is then dry-brushed with white paint to add a highlight of stones or light on the gravel model road layout.
Asphalt model road layouts are similar to gravel in their creation. Black foam core is used again and sprayed with gray paint at distance. Spraying with a light hand and in stages creates texture. A clear coat of spray paint is applied using the same technique. A good material for weathering asphalt model road layouts is black and white pastel chalk.
Leone powders them and smears them on the road using a finger. The texture from the paint will pick up chalk in some places and not others. Black marker can be used to further paint in cracks and holes to enhance their depth. After adding details like signs and vehicles, the model road layouts are complete. Check out the Model Railroad Academy website for more help designing your layout.