SCENERY MAKING MATERIALS FOR DIORAMA AND MODEL TRAIN BUILDING
Specialized materials for scenery making have been developed which are basic to all scenery making - model railroads, school projects, or museum display. The materials discussed in this column will be primarily Woodland Scenics line of materials because of their high quality and widespread availability.
Styrofoam products consist mainly of sheets, risers, and incline sets. Sheets may be used for diorama or layout bases, building tunnels, and mountains. Risers are flexible Styrofoam strips used primarily for track bases in model railroads, but could have other uses in the diorama. Incline sets are also used primarily for railroad layouts, making it easy to change elevations in track plans.
Newspaper or tissue paper also has uses in scenery making. It is used to build up mountains and fill in slopes. Wad the paper up to build hills; roll it to form banks or long hills.
Duct or masking tape is used to hold the paper hills together until the plaster cloth is applied. Tape may also be applied to fill in some gaps and connect hills.
Plaster cloth is used as the main surface of the scenery model. It is cheese cloth which has been impregnated with plaster and is sold in rolls. It is stretched over the completed sub-terrain and sprayed with water. It hardens into a hard shell surface, perfect for scenery making.
Hydrocal is a lightweight plaster used for terrain building. It is used to pour rocks, bridge supports, and fill gaps in the surface.
Mold-A-Scene is a powdered material which is mixed with water to form a putty-like material useful for gap filling, forming behind rock faces and many other uses in the scene. It can be cut and carved when dry, making it a very useful material.
Smooth-It is a specially made hydrocal material, finer textured, which is used to make asphalt or concrete roads. Use Topcoat or Concrete Paving paints to finish the road. These products used together do a very good job of mimicking roads.
Earth Colors are pigments used to color the terrain before applying ground foam. There are various earth tints and rock colors in the set.
Ground foam is a colored, finely ground material useful for modeling grass, weeds, and other vegetation in the scene. It is available in various colors of green, and a variety of textures. It is used with Scenic Cement. The foam is sprinkled over the surface of the scene and sprayed liberally with the cement. Scenic Cement is very dilute liquid glue which has been formulated to flow through a spray mister.
Lichen Moss is used to make trees, form unkempt, shrubby areas in the scene. It is packaged in plastic bags and is available in several colors. It is glued to the terrain with tacky glue.
Ballast is used on model railroad layouts to simulate the ballast on railroad tracks. It may be used in a diorama to simulate a gravel road or rocky area. It comes in a variety of different textures and colors.
Rock molds are used with hydrocal to cast rocks for model railroad scenes or scenery projects. The mold is first misted with water, hydrocal mixed according to the directions on the package and poured into the mold. The plaster is allowed to dry and then popped out of the mold. The rocks can then be painted as desired to simulate whatever rock is to be modeled.
Trees may be purchased ready made, or made up using a tree making kit. Ready made trees from Woodland Scenics or Lifelike are the easiest, but for large numbers of trees, a tree making kit may prove more economical.
These are the basic scenery materials. Model train layouts and dioramas will be quite realistic using the various scenery materials described. Visit our Train and Scenery section at the web site at the top of this article for the materials discussed.