'how to' main menu
             introduction to realistic scenery
             realistic model buildings
             railway structures
             model railway backdrops
             how to model rock
             modelling ground textures
             how to model ploughed fields
             water, sea and waterfalls
             bouyage and navigational markers
             how to make fences and walls
             modelling trees and plants
             modelling snow
             detailing the scenery
             how to make posters and signs
             how to weather your models
             the effects of scale colour


the building of model topography

I have already covered the basics of how to build up topography in the baseboard section. The baseboards will need to be cut to the topography required. Measure and mark out what you want TWICE and then cut once! Model topography can be either solid (foam) or shell.


If you have hidden tracks underneath you scenery shell topography is what you are going to need. There are quite a few techniques but I shall stick with the one I use and know works. The photo below shows the baseboard for our viaduct section. Track beds has now been added to connect with the viaduct and lower track. In addition, there is a hidden track at the rear. The slots cut into the rear side allow access to this and the lower track. It is important to ensure that the track beds are well supported. I also added the riverbed at this time.

Budgerigar wire netting is then stapled to the baseboard sides and track beds. I use a heavy duty electric stapler and staple every wire of the netting. The netting can be manipulated to the form and contours required. Once firmly attached, the netting is cut back using sharp side cutters, making sure that wire does not extend to the edges of the board. I find this a fairly horrid job and rarely get away without bleeding!

The mesh is then covered with plaster bandage. This is pre-cut to the approximate lengths required, quickly dumped in water and laid on. We overlap the strips by 1/2". Three layers are added at 90 degrees to the previous layer. One has to work quickly and with the best will in the work, the job is a tad messy. We always lay down a plastic sheet before starting. The bandage needs to be smoothed down before it has cured. Once hardened, we trim the edges flush with the baseboard using a sharp Stanley knife.



Foam is the construction of my choice if at all possible. I prefer closed cell blue foam but several foam products used for insulation are also acceptable. If foam is to be glued together, I use a hot glue gun. PVA adhesive does not work at all well. A hillside or mountain can be built up out of layers. Sheets of foam can be cut using a sharp knife or hot wire. Foam is messy beyond belief but it is really worth it. I have been known to cut sheets with and electric jigsaw and have sanded it to shape using a rotary sander. Tiny bits of foam will get everywhere but what the hell! I have even found it in my corn flakes before now! Smooth areas can be formed using a Surform or by electric sander. This is why they invented vacuum cleaners!

Foam can be shaped and carved to render high detail. At times, when modelling rock, I will attack the foam with an electric drill. By moving the drill in the right direction, one can produce wonderful sub-base for rocks.

Cliffhanger under construction