MRA Editors

Tips for Detailed Model Railroad Backdrop Painting

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Duration:   27  mins

Setting the scene for a model railroad can be a very enjoyable experience, especially if you take the time to experiment with the layout and mood of the backdrop. When you choose to paint your own backdrop instead of using enlarged photographs, you allow yourself a greater deal of room for trial and error. That’s the beauty of painting your own backdrop: it can look however you want!

With this in mind, it’s highly important when preparing for model railroad backdrop painting that you get a clear sense of what you’re going to create when you first dip the paintbrush. You might find it difficult to paint over a misplaced barn or lopsided hillside, which is why most expert modelers recommend beginning by sketching out your scene and then transferring it over to your backdrop using tracing paper. Model railroad backdrop painting becomes a much more comfortable and relaxing process when you don’t have to worry about making unmendable mistakes. In this lesson, you’ll learn some simple techniques for model railroad backdrop painting that help take the stress out of putting paint to paper.

Model railroad backdrop painting made easy

To give you a sense of the benefits when you lay out your scene before mixing paints, expert modeler Tom Lund demonstrates his method for model railroad backdrop painting that utilizes tracing paper and acrylics. He walks you step by step through the entire process, from first pencil stroke to finished product.

To get the model railroad backdrop painting started, Tom teaches you how to tape down tracing paper and sketch out the skeleton for your eventual scene, including the horizon, hillsides, buildings, and the tree line. He explains why penciling your scene first is vital to figuring out where you want components to be placed throughout the scene. Next, he shows you how to transfer your sketch to the backdrop using graphite, and then pulls out the paint to fill in his scene. You’ll see how to use various colors and a demonstration of the stippling technique to create a patchwork farm setting and translucent trees, as well as a T-square or triangle to make buildings come to life. With Tom’s tips and tricks for model railroad backdrop painting, you can take the stress out of making a beautiful backdrop for your models!

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