Hills and Mountains

Discussion in 'N / Z Scale Model Trains' started by SD90, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. SD90

    SD90 Active Member

    What does everyone use to make hills and mountains?
    What is your technique and what supplies do you use?
  2. Trainiac77

    Trainiac77 Member

    I guess that depends on how much money is on hand! Sometimes I use newspaper wads and cardboard with a layer of plaster wrap. But I prefer the blue or pink foam (which ever I can get my hands on for free). I shape it with a hot knife/rasp/file/sheet rock knife and then layer it with plaster wrap. I then add plaster cast rocks and do more shaping. Then I douse the whole scene with an India ink watered down solution so all the nooks and crannies become dark, then I start coloring/painting and adding ground covering that I make myself from sawdust or ground up leaves with dye added. (I use an old blender that I got from a yard sale and I have an old desktop lab over that I use to dry the leaves and saw dust.)

    After that I usually look at the whole scene, rip a part of it down because it didn’t come out good and start again! :cry:
  3. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    My current layout uses foam insulation, painted then covered with scenic materials.
    I've previously used paper towels dipped in plaster then draped over a form. (called hardshell). This was finished off with zip texturing. The form can be crumpled newspapers or strips of cardboard fastened together. The old method was screen or chicken wire over wood supports, then plaster added.

    This bit is done with extruded polystyrene foam cut with hot wire, painted with latex and covered with Woodland Scenics turf (and other things).

    Attached Files:

  4. Denyons

    Denyons Member

    Attached Files:

  5. eddieb

    eddieb New Member

    I found a really cheap way to make hard shell scenery.

    My trick is to cover wadded newspaper, expanded foam (or any other type of substructure) with strips of absorbent paper towel dipped into a thinned plaster or hydrocal mixture. A roll of absorent towelling is less than $2 at your local supermarket, but it goes a long way when you compare it to Scenic Express or Woodland Scenics Plaster Wrap.

    If you are sick of any chips in your painted plaster after a minor bump resulting in a white, out of place hole. Add a measured dose of earth tone to your plaster or hydrocal mix while you are applying it to your layout. If your plaster work chips in any place, the plaster underneath will be coloured and will not look out of place.

    I hope this helps.
  6. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    I have used many techniques over the years.

    back in the dark ages I used metal screen wire over wooden props covered with plaster.

    Later I followed the hardshell craze with plaster soaked paper towels over crumpled newspaper forms to establish the basic shape. I then added plaster on top of that that I either carved to rock forms or used molds.

    Later I started using strips of cardboard to weave into wicker work shapes establishing the land mass shape, and plaster in paper towels would cover that, and the rock areas would get extra plaster to carve rocks into, or again I'd use molds.

    For a while I was using this stuff called fabudrape that I was getting at craft stores. it was fabric that was soaked in a water soluble glue. you could soak it in water, and it would get all soft, and you could lay it on the cardboard forms, and it would harden when it dried. I would add plaster for carving rocks, or moulded rocks where I wanted rocks, and everywhere else I would paint the fabric with acrylic paint, add add ground cover directly to it.

    Now more often than not I make my shapes with the cardboard strips, and soak handiwipes in white glue, and apply it to the card board wicker work. If the area is going to represent soil I'll paint it with acrylic paint, and then add ground cover. again if it will be rock I will either add paster to carve or shape with molds, paiting the rock shapes with acrylic paints when they are ready.

    I have also taken to cutting out boulders from dense Styrofoam, painting them with acrylic paint either before or after they have been fastened to the layout.

    experiment with different techniques, as there are advantages and disadvantages to each. I now only use plaster (preferably hydrocal or house plaster- plaster of Paris is too soft, and is not durable. I have also used Durahm's Water putty in lieu of hydrocal- it is very hard and carves well as it is drying.) where I am representing rock, as plaster is messy. If making a portable RR avoid plaster it is heavy, and will crack with the stress of handling.

    My railroad and scenery skills are visible in the logging mining and Industrial section in the thread Logging in Eastern TN in 1928 on the DG CC & W RR . I have been doing model railroad scenery for 39 years.

    Bill Nelson
  7. CraigN

    CraigN New Member

    I am using foam board. I have a mix of the blue/pink stuff and some of the white stuff that everyone says to stay away from. The white stuff is easy to shape but makes a heck of a mess!

    Once I get the basic shape I want, I used to coat with plaster, now I just coat it with thin layers of joint compound. If the layers are too thick, they take a long time to dry and they will crack.

    I will add rock castings made from hydrocal and then I paint the scenery with Woodland Scenics green or earth undercoat and the castings with the other earth pigments.

    I then cover the hills with puffballs that I make from polyfiber that I buy from Walmart. I spray paint the balls and then coat them with W.S. coarse ground foam and then attach them to the hills with spray adhesive.

    I will then plant some better looking trees in front of the puff ball trees to make the forest look more realistic. I haven't gotten that far just yet, I am still planting puff ball trees.

  8. craftsmaster

    craftsmaster craftsmaster

    You can also employ something called an "open grid," which consists of two-by-fours or even two-by-sixes. Place these in rows on top of your framework. Add one-by-four or two-by-four "risers" to the grid in specific areas that match your plans for the track layout.

    From here, you'll place plywood cutouts of your plan on top of the risers. If you prefer, you can use wood strips spliced together with glue as an alternative. This creates curved sub-roadbed.

    Your next step is to cover a screen or web of cardboard strips with plaster cloth or plaster-soaked paper towel, fashioning the hills and valleys to your liking.
  9. Bill Nelson

    Bill Nelson Well-Known Member

    Open Grid

    Open grid is actually a benchwork method, traditionally it is made out of One by material, rather than the heavier, more expensive two bys. It starts with a rectangular box, of 1x4s, although I have seen larger and smaller used, nailed or screwwed together . ( I like to use glue and screws for maximum strength.) then additional material is added at intervals in between the two long pieces (usually ninety degrees to where most of the track will run. Imagine a skinny book shelf without a back. the open grid is then supported with legs, usually 2x4s 2x2s or two one bys screwed together to make an L shape.

    I like to raise up the roadbed material up above the open grid (or whatever benchwork style is used), so that the scenery can extend below the track level in places, any type of roadbed and scenery support can then be grafted on top.

    Bill Nelson

Share This Page