A quick cheap way to make brick and stone walls

stonework pressCreate 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.

make you own stone workHere 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.  
Founder of ModelRailwayEngineer, Andy Leaning

Andy is a lifelong modeler, writer, and founder of modelrailwayengineer.com. He has been building model railways, dioramas, and miniatures for over 20 years. His passion for model making and railways began when he was a child, building his first layout at the age of seven.
Andy’s particular passion is making scenery and structures in 4mm scale, which he sells commercially. He is particularly interested in modelling the railways of South West England during the late Victorian/early Edwardian era, although he also enjoys making sci-fi and fantasy figures and dioramas. His website has won several awards, and he is a member of MERG (Model Railway Electronics Group) and the 009 Society.
When not making models, Andy lives in Surrey with his wife and teenage son. Other interests include history, science fiction, photography, and programming. Read more about Andy.

Afflliate disclosure:The links on this page may take you to carefully selected businesses, such as Hornby, Amazon, eBay and Scale Model Scenery, where you can purchase the product under affiliate programmes. This means I receive a small commission on any orders placed although the price you pay does not change. You can read my full affiliate policy here. I also sell my my own ready to use, pre-made and painted buildings and terrain features. browse the range.
    • Hi Adam, that’s good to hear. I previously purchased them (when writing my the previous article) and they were available via online stores and in a couple of model shops I use but when checking ahead of writing this article they weren’t available. Cheers, Andy

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