Scenery: Favorite Mountain Building Technique / Method?

Grey One Nov 17, 2021

  1. Grey One

    Grey One TrainBoard Supporter

    I have decided to use the 'western' quarter of the layout for experimenting and practice. It is behind the ginormous TV and as such the least visible area of the layout.

    I have succesfully selected / created a ground color.
    Now is the time for Mountains.

    While I am building on a foam base feel free to mention any system / method / technique you are using. Please include pros and cons.

  2. Joe Lovett

    Joe Lovett TrainBoard Member

    I used multiple layers of foam for my hills and mountains. A keyhole saw makes it easy to cut the foam and carve contours. The only drawback is it makes a mess when carving but a shop vacuum will take care of the scraps. After carving paint the mountains with Earth color paint and apply ground foam while paint is still wet.

    There is other methods to make mountains so pick one that you would like to try.

    JMaurer1, Hardcoaler and BNSF FAN like this.
  3. NtheBasement

    NtheBasement TrainBoard Member

  4. Bookbear1

    Bookbear1 TrainBoard Supporter

    I like to use crumpled wads of newsprint, held in place with masking tape. I then dip strips of plaster cloth in water and drape over the wads of newsprint, and shape. Use as many layers of plaster cloth as you need to make a solid surface. The edges that touch the layout surface are smoothed. When everything is dry, fill in any holes with DAP lightweight spackle...that stuff weighs practically nothing! Use that to conceal the edges of the plaster cloth where it meets the layout surface as well. Paint your desired color, sprinkle ground foam of at least two differing colors over the wet paint.

    This works best to create 'older' hills and mountains, more rounded; but the method can also be used to create 'newer', more craggy, rigged mountains. It's all in the shaping.


  5. John Moore

    John Moore TrainBoard Supporter

    I have used dense foam that was shaped with a hot knife then covered with plaster cloth. For cliff faces and rock outcroppings I have Woodland Scenics rock molds in a number of sizes that I pour some tinted plaster in and set with a dab of plaster. I used water based paints to color the plaster mix before pouring.
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  6. tehachapifan

    tehachapifan TrainBoard Member

    I use 1-2" cardboard strips stapled together (vertical and horizontal) to form general shape, then cover with plaster cloth. I'll then use various products over that depending on what I want, such as rock molds with lightweight hydrocal for cliffs, cuts, etc.
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  7. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Seconded on stacked foam and rock molds. I blended the spaces in between the rocks with sculptamold, mixed thick like oatmeal. Paint and some ground cover, plus trees makes a great scene.
    Hardcoaler likes this.
  8. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Pictures say a thousand words....
    Layer cake building with foam. Carved with steak knife, hand tools:


    Covered with sculptamold, rock molds applied, blended with thick sculptamold:


    A more or less finished scene, with rock, ground cover or snow and trees:


    trainsbybob, JMaurer1, MK and 5 others like this.
  9. JMaurer1

    JMaurer1 TrainBoard Member

    Pink or blue insulation foam cut with a steak knife. Cover gaps with lightweight spackle. Paint, ground foam, rock molds, done! Much easier to see what the final product will look like and very light (all my layouts have been modular in some manor).
  10. Shortround

    Shortround TrainBoard Member

    Things sure have changed. Way back I would base it with wood cut to shape, cover with metal bug screening and then mix up 'Plaster of Paris' and saturate a cloth mesh I got at the 'Five-n-Dime'. Then use patching plaster to smooth it.
    A lot heavier than what's done now. :eek:
    Nice work guy's.

  11. Inkaneer

    Inkaneer TrainBoard Member

    I am a firm believer that the term 'permanent layout' is an oxymoron and that a modular layout with the provision to disassemble and re-assemble built in is the way to go. Scenery is light weight foam (either blue or pink) with lightweight spackling. Water based scenery techniques are easy to apply over latex paint or glue.
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I use anything from the old fashioned cardboard strip method, covered with hydrocal dipped paper towels, to plastic screening, to foam board build up. Whatever suits the situation.
    BNSF FAN likes this.

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