Steel City Division
By Bob Beaty
stage settings; natural features of landscape that please the eye.
Model Railroad Scenery:
The crafted environment through which a model railroad operates, moves or is
displayed. Consists of location, terrain (topography), setting (urban, rural,
mountains etc), structures, right of way, background elements, lighting and
other visual effects that augment the overall appearance of the model.
Function of Scenery:
of the realistic operation of the model railroad by providing a miniature
the run of trains providing a feeling of “going some place”
some unwanted or distracting feature within the layout space.
Where to start:
Scenery is the one thing that can differ greatly from layout to layout. It
gives the creative modeler the greatest opportunity to express his/her
individuality. There are many techniques, many visions, and many materials to
use. THERE IS NO ONE WAY to do scenery.
PLAN: Before starting (most of us don’t) you need to
carefully plan the scenes you wish to create. Consider:
Time period (era)
Type railroad (Class 1, Branch, Logging, Ore carrier, Mining, etc)
Steam, Diesel, Transition
Urban, Rural, Metropolitan, industrial
Geology: Mountainous, Plains, Coastal, Desert SW
Space available for the layout, shape, double deck ?
sure that all the scenes on the layout, considered together, form a realistic
composition. (You will be happier and the nitpickers will be too).
“Scenery is a permanent thing and we ought to have a preview of what it is
going to look like before we build it.”
Conceptualize/visualize: In nature and prototype railroads,
the rocks mountains and rivers were there first, then the rail road
infrastructure was added.
Research books, calendars, historical photos, travel brochures for
typical scenic aspects of your potential layout.
Rule: make your model scenery look like it was there first (before the track)
Experiment/practice: Practicing off layout in a scaled down
version will give you an opportunity to use different techniques and
building (Mock ups)
(paint some tree on furniture your wife doesn’t want)
features [water: (Don’t use the real stuff), animation etc]
After you have planned,
Visualized and experimented, you can consider construction. The type of
scenery methods you use may be determined by your overall track plan, and
layout support construction,
(Includes ZIP texturing)
Consider not beginning scenery until all track work is complete and trouble
Pit Falls: Identify
pitfalls such as:
sure there is room for hands, tools, wiring, electrical devices and of
Some Rules (to
be broken if absolutely necessary. You will know when).
a mountain over a turnout (track switch), or other potential derailing feature
highest tracks in the background
all hidden track work is accessible
much space as possible between low level tracks that parallel higher track
Test run all
rolling stock through all scenic construction during all phases of
space between tracks and the between tracks and the outer edge of the layout
of a tunnel is not as important as it’s height (train has to fit) but should
be geologically relevant.
If you get
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