Model Railroad Scenery Techniques: Blending into the Backdrop

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As many model railroaders know, blending water into the backdrop can be challenging. In this video, expert modeler Tom Lund shares some of his model railroad scenery techniques for blending scenery into the backdrop with rocks, trees and water on his Lake Superior layout.

Painting model railroad backdrops that blend seamlessly

When building realistic model railroad scenery, it’s important to create seamless transitions from scenery to backdrop. Tom explains how to avoid leaving evidence of where the backdrop meets the water and how to steer clear of dark lines when painting. He also takes you through a step-by-step process of painting rocks, trees and buildings onto the backdrop to provide depth perception from the foreground to the horizon.

Tom reveals some of his secrets for painting model railroad backdrops to help create a fluid transition. First, he demonstrates a simplified painting technique to use rather than free handing the edges. Second, he explains the right brush strokes to use to help hide any evidence of where the strokes start and end. Be prepared to paint multiple layers for an opaque coverage. Third, he suggests experimentation with mixing paints in order to closely replicate the color and texture from the objects in the layout. Finally, he makes evident that the easiest method for painting is to first fill in the basic shape and add details later.

One of the more resourceful tips Tom reveals is a method he uses to easily paint the places in the deep areas of your layout. He demonstrates how to create a homemade tool that only requires a dowel and a pencil eraser. A tool worthwhile to make as it can ease stress on your body while painting hard to reach backdrops.

In addition to painting, Tom shows how to incorporate printed images into the backdrop. In his layout, he adds spray adhesive to the back of a trimmed image of a Great Lakes ore boat and burnishes it down to his backdrop. He then adds some finishing touches to blend it into the water. This same technique can be done for all types of scenery. It’s an easy tip and requires little to no artistic skills.

Try some of these model railroad scenery techniques in your layout and check out Model Railroad Academy for more scenery and backdrop how-to videos.