NOV 12, 2013

How to make your model railway more realistic

If you are new to model railways but want to create something special in the comfort of your home this guide might be just what you need. We’ve already covered a number of topics through our blogs such as ‘building your own model scenery’ and ‘a guide to buying model trains’ so we thought we’d take a closer look at how you can make your model railway as authentic as you can.

  • Don’t mix scales: One of the worst mistakes you can make when you are creating a model railway is to get the scales wrong. Whatever the scale is for your locos stick with that for your buildings, cars, people and trackside scenery. Don’t have different sized features here, there and everywhere it’ll look a little bizarre.  
  • Use plenty of people to paint the scene: Buy model people (the right scale of course!) and use them to bring your scene to life. Place them on platforms, have them walking down streets, sitting in vehicles and generally ‘mooching’ about. People add a sense of realism to your layout so get them walking in and out buildings or stood on bridges waving at passing trains.
  • Light the way: Use streetlights, building lights and lights on vehicles to create the impression of a bustling scene. Lights will certainly make your buildings look more realistic especially when you switch them on night.
  • Stick to one period: Try to avoid chopping and changing eras, just pick one decade for your layout and stick with that decision. If you are creating a sleepy countryside village scene from the 1960s don’t spoil it by having modern sedans driving along the road.
  • Take care with detailing: It’s the small details that really bring your model railway to life. Think about painting the inside of your tunnels black, paint a little ‘oil’ on the ballast under the track, add mud to the side of tractors working in the fields next to your track. Once you know what period you want to base your railway in you can even find old advertisements for products on the internet, print them off and create fun signage from that era. Just go to town with the detailing and that’s guaranteed to make your railway look real.
Created on 12th November 2013
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