Personalizing Your Model Railroad Layouts

Subscription Options

Model Railroad Academy Membership with automatic renewal

Please select from the available subscriptions above

  • Choose Your Membership Plan
  • All-Access Video Pass
  • New Videos Every Week
  • View on Computer or Mobile

Select your membership plan and get our best model railroad videos with 24/7 access to tips and ideas from our master modelers, automatic renewal and our ‘cancel anytime’ policy.

Clear

Learn More

Building your model railroad layouts from prototype railroads can be a great way to gain inspiration and avoid losing focus on how you want your scene to come together. The reason most of us first got into creating model railroaders was because of an obsession with the real thing, so it’s only natural that we would want to copy our favorites.

However, if you choose to follow prototypes as you design model railroad layouts, it’s important not to get too hung up on copying every curve, building and hillside, because a perfect replica is practically impossible. That’s why master modeler Bob Hayden prefers using his prototype as a basis and not as the benchmark when he builds model railroad layouts, which was certainly true for his HO scale model of Maine’s Carrabasset & Dead River Railway. In this lesson, Bob talks with host Allen Keller about his inspiration and thought process when building this remarkable recreation of the C&DR, as well as a few of the expert techniques he used to put it all together.

Tips for expanding model railroad layouts

Bob begins his discussion on the techniques he uses to improve the realism of model railroad layouts by going into more detail on the benefits of avoiding perfection rather than seeking it. He explains how he was able to create magnificent landscape and urban scenery by basing his layout on a vision instead of a picture.

Then, Bob talks about a simple concept that has helped him on most of his model railroad layouts. One of the most essential techniques that expert modelers utilize on their model railroad layouts to make them appear larger than life is forced perspective. This basic concept of design is vital for adding depth and realism to model railroad layouts, and it takes a little bit of trickery to pull off forced perspective correctly. In Bob’s case, forced perspective was used to lend some extra attention to the farmlands near his backdrop. See how it works on yours!