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SceneryWithout a doubt, even the most basic Scenery will enhance your layout.. and with so many good resources on “Scenery” and an ever increasing choice of scenery materials available, you really do not have an excuse not to add scenery elements to your layout !

You can have the most amazing and complex set of tracks, wires and buttons, possibly with advanced automation features and even high-end sound and lighting systems.. and still fail to impress if the scenery is not believable or even worse completely absent!

The topic of model scenery construction is vast and dynamic. Since most of us get started with a small, usually flat layout, the focus of this supplement will concentrate on tips that use some of the many new and easy to use products for adding ground cover along with some of the basic details to develop a fully scenic layout or diorama display.

You may be interested in this Article about Scale.

It seems that getting started with scenery poses one of the most common road blocks to enjoying the hobby. Most often this is caused by some misconceptions regarding model landscape construction.


You do not have to be an artist ..
Since nearly all of the popular scenery products follow an established color palette with complete instructions as to their proper application, there is little room for error.

Many complex scenes can be easily created by focusing on smaller sections

In engineering the “PROBLEM” can always be broken down into smaller, more manageable tasks – and so, the “scene” in reality consists of smaller scenery components, that should ideally come together in harmony. Ground cover, water, bushes, trees, paint, figurines..

By following basic step-by-step instructions you too can have a realistic look and feel to your layout..


Scenery does not require messy materials or years of mastery..
Many people believe the materials are messy to use and techniques take years to master.

Sure, in 1950 the modeller had little choice, but fast-forward to the 20th century, and you are spoiled for choice!

There are now so many companies specializing in modern, realistic scenery materials, that the messy part is really a matter of how you disciplined you are.

If you can’t pick up your socks, you probably have a messy hobby room anyway, and your layout will probably reflect this too..

(no offense intended – its your life, and you can do as you please)

Most often a simple household vacuum machine is all that is required to clean up the “mess”, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover how easy the techniques to create realistic scenery can be.

There are some home-made scenery materials like “ground goop” that will have your hands dirty, but many people enjoy exactly this, and working with such materials need not be messy, but if your inner child likes to make mud cakes, there will be no stopping you – Enjoy!

While some old-school modellers will jump up and down and make a fuss when you mention off-the-shelf scenery products- you can be assured that many dedicated scenery companies are offering products that are hard to beat in both terms of quality and price!

Sure, if you have the time and access to quality scratch building materials – go for it.. but if you are like me (and many modellers around the world) you simply wont’ have the time to try and do everything yourself from scratch.. and if miniatur wunderland (Germany),  Northlands (USA), The Grand Market (Russia) can use these products, why can’t you?
A few points on Weathering:

Many trains spend years out in the elements, are subjected to harsh weather conditions and even abuse- almost all real trains show signs of aging. Using simple weathering techniques you too can achieve realistic results, representing the long and hard service life of your model empire.

Weathering can take many forms including rust, grime, patched paint, faded letters to name just a few.

There are almost as many ways to recreate the ravages of time and nature.

While Weathering can be intimidating at first, it certainly is not impossible, and with a little practice, you’ll be “adding years” to your rolling stock in no time.

This Article Series on Weathering Techniques for Modellers is a Good Starting Point..

A note on trees:

  • Keep in mind that Trees grows differently, here’s an Article on Trees and Scale
  • Beware that not all trees are made equal, and it may be worth the extra effort to compare offerings from various suppliers.
  • Chinese bulk-produced trees are (in my opinion) the worst in terms of quality, but you can’t beat the price. That said, with a bit of patience and re-work, even a Chinese tree can be made respectable ! (I don’t use Chinese trees in the foreground, this making the “plastic look” quality less obvious)
  • Some of the best trees are manufactured by Timberline scenery , Noch, Scenic ExpressCanyon CreekJTT Tree, and  Woodland Scenics.

I have received very good personal service from many manufacturers, but have to say that the service received from Jim has been very commendable – Biased ?  because of quality and service..for sure!


Realistic Trees will add “wow” to your layout

Please remember that these techniques are not the only or necessarily the optimal – they are presented here to get you started, and you are encouraged to try other materials and techniques..

Further Reading:


fake or real?





Just some of the many books available (images chosen at random)..

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