Tips for Building a Model Railroad: Minimizing Spaces

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Oftentimes when building a model railroad, it can be difficult to avoid flat, empty areas in your scene. Maybe the landscape upon which you’ve designed your layout is made up mostly of cornfields, or perhaps your train’s tracks pass through an industrial town without much other than a few buildings.

For those straightaway stretches of track lacking in visual intrigue, there are a number of simple things you can do when building a model railroad to minimize the amount of empty space in your layout and keep your viewers’ attention. In this lesson, we teach you a variety of expert tips and techniques you can utilize while building a model railroad to quickly and smartly fill a layout to distract your viewers from the empty spaces in your scene.

Filling out a scene when building a model railroad

As you go about planning and building a model railroad, before you even start to add the finer details to a scene, you can include a number of small touches that will shrink the amount of empty space in your layout. To help you de-emphasize any flatness in your railroad layout and keep your viewers’ focus on the important features, NMRA Master Modeler Gerry Leone teaches you how to implement elements such as backdrops, buildings, and painted rails as you’re building a model railroad.

Gerry begins his demonstration on building a model railroad by showing you the proper way to use a dark paint marker to give the rails on your tracks the appearance of rust. He also talks about the importance of adding larger industrial buildings and curves to flat, straight stretches of track in order to create the illusion that there is less space than there actually is.

Finally, Gerry talks about the unique benefits of backdrops, both handpainted and commercial, and teaches you how to use photo editing software to blow up your own pictures to poster size. Take advantage of Gerry’s tips for minimizing empty space the next time you’re building a model railroad, and we guarantee you’ll have no trouble keeping your viewers’ attention!

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