Does your layout have some horizontal spaces that are too narrow to fit 3D buildings? Martin Tärnrot gives a tutorial on how to work with model railroad paper buildings to create depth in narrow spaces.
Martin uses an area on his own layout where the rail line is very close to the backdrop, only two inches/50mm. The solution is to make paper buildings. Templates for N scale paper buildings and HO scale paper buildings are available at numerous sources online. Martin downloaded the buildings as PDFs and printed them using office paper, though you can use photo paper.
Cut the building pieces out with scissors and glue them to a balsa sheet. Martin’s is 1/32-inch/1.5mm thick. Use Elmer’s Construction Glue or PVA glue. Next, cut it out with a scalpel or razor blade.
GIVING N OR HO SCALE PAPER BUILDINGS A 3D LOOK
We want the eaves of the roof to stick out, to give the flat building a three-dimensional look. Cut, glue and cut out another of the same building, but this time only cut out the front eaves, then glue that piece on top of the eaves of the original building. This will provide some shadowing effect on the building front, giving it a 3D perspective.
Paint the edges of the building. Martin uses Flat Gray Acrylic paint.
How much space do you have to work with? Martin has two inches, so he adds side walls to the building. Then comes the roof.
When the building is complete, glue it in place on the layout using a fast set glue. Martin combines this building with a long fence on either side. He has a tutorial video called Modeling Wooden Planks that shows how to build this fence. It works well with N scale paper buildings and HO scale paper buildings.
Last, he places a figure next to the building and glues some greenery behind the fence. This really helps sell the depth effect.
For more about working with paper buildings, watch our video on tips for using building flats to make a city.