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Monday, March 27, 2023

How To Make Realistic Mountains for Your Model Railroad

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Having a beautiful natural landscape for your model railroad makes it so much easier to enjoy your trains. What better way to decorate your layout than with rolling hills or rugged mountains? Consider these ways to make realistic mountains and hills for your model railroad.

Create a Base With XPS Foam

The fastest and most cost-effective way to create your mountains is by using XPS foam. You can find this foam in one-inch sheets at any hardware store. Simply stack several sheets together and carve out your mountains using a handheld hot wire cutter—one of the top five tools to have for model railroading. Make sure you put weights on top of the stack when gluing sheets together so you don’t end up with any gaps.

Quickly Build Texturing

If you’re looking to finish your hills or mountains quickly, you can end the process after this step. Simply crumple some aluminum foil into a ball and roll it all over your foam base to add a rocky texture. Now your mountains are ready to paint! However, if you want more detail, move on to the next step.

Make Plaster Rocks

Get out your aluminum foil again and tear off several sheets. Crinkle each sheet individually, then shape them into little boats. You can then pour plaster into each boat to create rocks to decorate your mountains. Once the plaster hardens, take the pieces out and secure them to the foam base with hot glue.

Fill In the Gaps

The next step for making realistic mountains for your model railroad is to fill in all the gaps between the plaster rocks and the foam base. You can use more plaster, paper-mache, or quick-dry caulk from the hardware store.

Add Texture

This step is entirely optional, but it will enhance the overall look of your mountains. Sprinkle baking soda, sand, or tiny rocks over the wet plaster filling to create more texture. This doesn’t need to be an even layer—in fact, differences in texture will look more realistic.

Finish Your Mountains

Once everything is dry, the final step is to paint your mountains a dark brown or dark gray. You can build up layers of rock color with dry brushing, and make sure to add at least one wash to make all the cracks and crevices stand out. Then, you can add flocking, flowers, larger rocks, trees, and whatever else you desire to complete your layout.

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