Layout Designer Doug Gurin gives some considerations when planning for realistic scenery on a layout in this video. For a layout to depict a certain part of the country, scenery planning should start immediately. Gurin suggests starting by collecting prototype images of signature landscape features of the area being modeled.
It’s important to create a diverse variety of scenes in the foreground and background. Consider the shapes and elevation of natural terrain such as roads and highways as well as the region’s architecture, agriculture, forests, industrial development, valleys, and waterways. Make sure to leave an adequate amount of space for a good scenery to track ratio and to keep future modeling options open. Gurin recommends leaving a space of 60 to 80 scale feet wide or three to six inches for foreground and background scenery. Leave room around prototypical roads and buildings to keep the layout from looking cluttered.
More open scenery space can also create depth in a layout. Creating clusters of structures also creates a sense of depth by increasing the appearance of space between structures. Plan for sloped terrain and include slight grades throughout the layout. Sections along the track can be above or below it creating a front edge that follows the contours of the raised and lowered layout scenery.
The background should reflect this variety as well. Make sure not to paint the horizon line too high, this will help the scenery appear much more realistic. Finally, Gurin recommends matching the color and texture of the ground cover to the prototype region as well as covering some parts of track with debris to create a more realistic look. For more tips for planning your layout visit the Model Railroad Academy website.