Making Model Railroad Scenery for Flat Areas

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The best model railroad scenes utilize space well and maintain balance between buildings, tracks and landscape. Achieving proper balance in an expansive scene is important for both the overall aesthetic and the impact of each component of scenery included. For instance, if you place a single large factory at the curve of a track surrounded on all sides by empty space, the building will tend to look lost in the open and the scene will appear lacking.

Therefore, your goal in creating a visually appealing model is to break up the scene by filling in this flat space with objects and textures that take some of the attention away from the scene’s major visual points. So in this lesson on making model railroad scenery, NMRA expert modeler Gerry Leone teaches you a variety of tips and techniques that help to spread out and break up your scene with small details.

Making model railroad scenery that breaks up a scene

To illustrate what happens when you successfully break up a large scene by filling in empty spaces, Gerry demonstrates his favorite techniques for making model railroad scenery on a sample model that features a few large buildings and a single track. He walks you step by step through the process of taking a flat, empty space and making model railroad scenery that brings the void to life.

Getting started, Gerry shows you how to use supplemental buildings and minor touches that quickly fill space around larger buildings such as factories and stations. He explains how making model railroad scenery dioramas on your workbench and then transferring them to your scene helps to avoid having to work in tight spaces.

After creating a unique diorama for the box factory in his scene, Gerry teaches you how to utilize real dirt, ground foam and diluted white glue to make parking lots, roads and foliage, and then uses Sculptamold to add hills and texture to the flat plywood surface of your scene. Making model railroad scenery doesn’t have to involve sculpting large mountains and painting elaborate backdrops; sometimes it can be as simple as adding dirt roads and small buildings that quickly fill those blank spaces. Try Gerry’s method out on your next scene!

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