Ultimate Guide to Model Railway Scenery – Part 1

A model railway without scenery is like a dog without fur. You need to learn how use scenery before you can ever hope to master the art of creating awesome train layouts.

This model railway scenery ultimate guide will show you how scenery can be used effectively for any model train layout.

Railway scenery can be split into two main categories.

1. Handmade

2. Bought

1. Handmade or built scenery is the cheapest option and for some types of model scenery it is also the only option (hills, rivers, rocks’¦etc) Handmade scenery can be very tricky to create properly and many railway beginners can end up with a lot of mess. We recommend getting solid advice before embarking on a large scenery project.

2. Bought or shop purchased model scenery is an option for people who higher budgets. A good quality finish is sometimes easy to achieve with bought scenery but it can start to get expensive.

Track Ballast scenery

Track ballast is the most important aspect of nearly every model railway train layout that your are likely to build. The ballast is the rocks/stones that are used under the tracks to add drainage and flexibility to the rail track.

A badly constructed ballast scenery can make even the most interesting train layout look amateur.

We have three possible options when it comes to creating ballast for our model railway:

1. Ballast Scatter

  • Paint the board a similar colour to your ballast
  • Next you literally scatter a mix of glue all over the board
  • Now Scatter the board liberally with your bag of model ballast and give it time to dry

2. Ballast Scatter Mat

  • You just buy a ballast mat from your local model train shop or ebay and then cut it to size and cover your board

Ballast scatter mats do not look as realist as homemade scatter as it looks too neat and tidy. Do you notice perfect ballast on your local train line?

3. Ballast Sponge Overlay

  • This stuff is a sponge material that already has ballast particles and is laid under your track. Not as realist as the other options but is very quick to install.

Model Hill Scenery

The next most important element of model scenery is the hills. Even intricate train layouts look flat and lifeless without the inclusion of gradient.

We have two main options when it comes to using hill scenery within your model railway layout.

1. Paper Mache

  • Very cheap to buy, you only need newspaper, water and glue.
  • Can be really fun and you can get the kids to join in with you

2. Modelling Rock

  • Relatively expensive and requires far more adult supervision
  • Tricky to get started on
  • Requires the use of a chicken wire frame and then you add the plaster impregnated fabric on top of this.

3. Polystyrene/Styrofoam

  • Very easy to create large hills with
  • A lot less messier than the other two options
  • Still very cheap and only just requires a little Polly fill to smooth the surfaces.

Update in the next few days to include: trees, rock faces, tarmac, buildings and bridges!

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5 Comments

  • Rob 2 years ago

    Hi i have submitted my name etc and have never received your free quick starting quide or any other free material. is there a problem?

  • del 2 years ago

    Me too. There is also mention of updates that I don’t get.

    Del

  • ian kennedy 2 years ago

    great info for newbies like myself

    thanks for all the info keep it coming

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