Great terrain and scenery starts with an interesting locale to model, a well thought out plan, and construction methods that allow for excellent results. During this creative process, a custom model railroad really starts to come to life.

From level ground to dramatic rock features, bridge abutments, tunnels and roads, retaining walls, water features and developed properties, all become the staring attractions of this step of construction.

Good organization is always a key element of doing a good job. Here’s my little table that I prep all my scenery materials on before I set out to perform some work. The glue and alcohol bottle are mixed and topped off so I should be good for a few hours of consistent work before I need to stop to refill. All the tools I need are ready in case I need something as well. Try to keep things at an arm’s length if possible too.

This photo’s of the Iron Hill Junction N scale layout shortly after the hard shell scenery was stained. I work clean enough throughout my process so if I want to run some trains at any time, usually a quick vacuuming and maybe some light rail cleaning is all that’s needed.

The Parker Subdivision HO layout scenery along the west wall showing the scenery hard cover that had just been finished stained, and the first corner of vegetation is applied. Note that all bridges, roads, viaducts and waterways and ballast were finished and installed prior to applying the scenic foliage materials.

Nice shot here of a couple UP locomotive coasting down grade on the Weber Canyon HO layout. The scenery hard shell has been stained and this scene is ready for ballast, foliage and details.

This is a nice shot of the Bemo RhB layout along the back of the layout. The scene takes place along a curve that is high up in the mountains. This shot was taken after the hard shell terrain was just coated with some light green fine turf. There will be lots of pine trees planted in the scene down the road.

The Weber Canyon layout while the carved foam was being covered with the plaster cloth as seen in the foreground. I’ll be working towards those bridges, but they are fully removable so they won’t be in the way.

The above and below photos show the Bemo layout progress from one day to the next. The photo above shows the foam covered with plaster cloth. At this point in the process, the portal, the underpass and all rock features are permanently installed. The finer details of the portal and underpass will be added later.

This photo shows how the terrain looks with a basic ground cover stain over the hard shell plaster cloth. This is the day after the above photo. While I did mention that all portals and the underpass are permanent at this point, the catenary poles are not fully installed yet at this point.

Here is a nice example of a painted backdrop suggesting that this little sawmill on the Douglas Creek Hon3 layout sits very high up in a mountain canyon above the valley floor.

I’ve seen many European mountain layouts with the oddest very light blue colored water. Until I did my research on the high mountain streams in Switzerland, I couldn’t see modeling the water color any other way. Due to the high mineral content of the water, it truly turns the water an almost light bluish- gray color. This little stream prototypically sits between the south portal of the Albula tunnel, and runs just next to the Spinas station. The double track bridge I removed to get a nice shot of my work.

A bit of experimentation being conducted here to test some different water effects. Although, I really did like this still water effect from this angle, I thought it might be very difficult to keep it clean. Just pouring the water and letting the natural “orange peel” occur over the terrain yields a close enough of an effect, but not quite like this. Always seems to be compromise at some point, but if you don’t test things out, you’ll never know.

This is a cool little photo of the falls that were split by a boulder in the middle of the stream on the Iron Hill Junction N scale layout. Makes me want to get my fly rod out and go do some fishing.

This rock work example photo here depicts my efforts after doing some different carving test with foam. They are fairly easy to carve and easy to paint. They also keep the project lightweight. Too much plaster is not a good thing if you want to keep weight under control. I personally think you can convey some very convincing rock work using foam.

What would a day of scenery work be without having to do some kind of sorting? Shown here are a couple boxes of Woodland Scneics’ fine leaf foliage sorted out and ready to plant.