HO UK model rail
I enjoy the landscaping of my layouts. For my latest layout (2015) the process was simpler and faster to construct than my first layout as I could re-use parts of my original layout and perhaps I had already learnt a lot.
The baseboard is made of a sheet of 45mm thick, 3 x 1 metre high density building insulation foam, the type used in walls and lofts. Its covered in a layer of foil with a convenient grid printed on it.
Finishing of the surface of the hills and rock faces was done with Polycell Plaster Repair using a small flexible metal artist spatula. The filler is incredibly lightweight when applied and is almost like a confectionary mousse, but set in 12hours to a rock hard surface. It is easy to use, requires little cleaning up afterwards, but must have its lid put back on securely.
One thing that was problematic for my first layout, was the removing of track or fixing temperamental point motors, as I had laid ballast and grass up to the edges of raised ‘C’ – tracks! This time I used black foam sheeting, similar to a divers neoprene wetsuit, as the foundations for ballast, rocks/pebbles and turf. It is strong and easy to cut to save and can also looks similar to tarmac, (but so far I’ve resisted using as that) It simply fixes on to the foam baseboard using staples or with the occasional tooth pick fence. Onto its surface I spread flexible PVA builders adhesive to secure the boulders, gravel or dried coffee grounds which makes an excellent earth or peat effect. The benefits are that it can be easily taken up and repositioned when needed and the substrate remains in place.
I used a limited palette of natural earth colours diluted in water and applied directly to the landscaped surfaces. The surfaces were either raw dry plaster or the set Polycell filler which had a light grey colour. These natural pigments covered exceptionally well requiring only one coat, were inexpensive and what’s more looked natural. This was particularly apparent when overlaying a dark wash over the yellow ochre which gave it gave the appearance of soil erosion down a rock face. The colour collected and concentrated in the cracks and crevices in the rock face and tricked down its surface just as might be seen in nature. Colours used yellow ochre, raw umber, burnt umber. I hope it goes without saying that the colours were of a matt finish, anything else would look fake!