Create realistic stone and brickwork walls and ground with this simple technique from a professional model maker.
If, like me, you make a lot of models either for your layout or perhaps military model miniatures and dioramas you’ll often need to make stone and brick walls.
There are a variety of ways of doing this.
You could use brick paper, with patterns and impressions on pre-printed card that can then be cut out to make the buildings. These are okay, and I certainly use these occasionally but can look a bit artificial at times.
In a similar fashion, are embossed sheets from Noch and others. These are similar to brick paper but have texture and so look better but can get expensive at over £10 a sheet.
You can also use ready-made plastic walls. These are increasingly lifelike but the patterns tend to get repetitive if used for a large area.
Instead, my preferred solution is to make my own. Carving or impressing brick and stone work patterns into the air drying clay or foamboard.
This gives me the finish I want and, secretly, I find it relaxing.
The problem, however, is that it takes ages!!! Marking and indenting stone after stone in OO or N scale on anything but a small building can take days and weeks.
In the past, I’ve used a textured rolling pin but these don’t seem to be available any more.
Professional model maker David Neat has a similar but DIY technique. With this, you can easily make your own impression tool and quickly produce brick or stonework.
His technique is to make press tool is to use the Polymer Clay Super Sculpey and press this into Kapa-line foamboard, as he explained in a blog post.
Super Sculpey is the best material
“Super Sculpey is the best material I’ve found for creating these press-tools. It allows complete versatility in modelling and is strong enough when properly baked to make a lasting and, if need be, quite deep impression on soft foam. Milliput will set just as hard and durable (if not more so) for repeated use, but I find it too resistant when soft to allow enough control over detail modelling.
The polyurethane foam in Kapa-line foamboard is by far the most suitable foam to use because it takes impressions minutely but black foamboard foam, styrofoam or Depron will all yield results in their different ways.
Here I’ve mainly used the blunt ends of disposable chopsticks to create the negative cobble-stone shapes in a piece of Sculpey. The walls between, which become the cracks in the positive pattern, need to be carefully pinched up, ideally tapering to sharp ridges. If not they will look too broad or not be deep enough in the positive. Even more important, the modelled pattern area should have a roughly convex shape so that it can be rocked while pressing.
Usually, if the press-tool is too flat it cannot be pressed firmly enough into the foam without breaking. I’ve also pinched a shape at the back for holding the tool. This block measures about 5x3cm with an average thickness of 1.5cm.
The manufacturer’s directions for baking Sculpey recommend that the oven is brought to 130 degrees C and the form left there 15mins for each 6mm of thickness (i.e. average 18mm needing 45mins). This may be sufficient for forms which are not going to be subjected to much strain or when trying to preserve the flesh colour but for a full and even hardness throughout it’s usually better to leave thick forms in for longer.”
With the pattern completed, David then paints them a dark colour and applies successive layers of lighter colour applied by dry brushing.
Super Sculpey and foam board are available in the UK via Amazon:
The original article can be found on David Neat’s website here.
>A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.
Affiliate notice: Some links on this page will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, B&Q, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you doesn't change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.