Plant your buildings – Manic Monday Tip #2

model railway buildings tipAnother quick job that can be carried out on your model railway when time is tight.

However you construct the buildings on your layout — with paper card, from plastic kits or scratch build them from foam board etc — this tip applies and will make them look more natural residents of your miniature world.

The tip, to keep things brief, is to bed buildings into the environment around them.

Don’t just plonk them down.

In a rural environment, plant bushes and greenery along the seam, between the ground and walls of the buildings.

In town and cityscapes, apply a wash coat of dark paint along the join between the building and pavement or tarmac that they sit on.

For both, placing signs of habitation — tools, storage crates, barrels and pallets (as fitting the scene and era being modelled) — against the walls of the structure also helps.

By way of example, just look at the photo above, which I took recently, of the stunning 82G O gauge model railway.

Notice how the area where the shed meets the ground is darker, how a cycle (perfectly in the context of the scene) and weeds have been placed. Perfectly done, giving the impression that the shed has always been there.

Doing similar on your layout will blend the buildings into the landscape and will make the layout look far more convincing but is also relatively quick to do. It’s an ideal job to do when you don’t have much time but want to get a bit of modelling in.

What objects could you place at the foot of your buildings tonight?

> 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 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.

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