Model Railway Backscenes are sheets of paper printed with realistic photographic or artist drawn landscape pictures that are used give your layout a sense of depth. No longer will it look like a train set running on a piece of flat board, a good quality back scene will transform your layout instantly, giving it the ultimate level of realism.
Done correctly, your layout will look outstanding! Done badly, and your layout can fall flat on its face in seconds, so here’s my bumper batch of 11 top tips for choosing and assembling the best backscenes for model railways & model railroads.
- Off the shelf backscenes have recently improved in quality leaps and bounds. Take a good hard look at the choices available before taking the plunge. Take your time choosing the one that best suits your layout.
- Digital photography and improved printing techniques allow you to turn your own photographs into bespoke backscenes for your model railway layout. Either print the images yourself or use a professional online printing company to do them for you.
- Painting your own backscene is certainly possible if you’re feeling artistic, but remember to be subtle though. Less detail and less colour is always better than lots of busy detailing which will distract the spectator from the features of your layout.
- Choose high quality paper for your backscene. The thinner the paper, the harder it is to get a nice smooth finish on the backboard.
- Use the backscene to help identify the region that you are endeavouring to model with your layout. With careful attention to detail it can be used to depict the Rock type and soil colour of the area you’re modelling. It can even be used to define the season too. If you’re shooting your own photos, why not shoot the same area at different times of the year to make interchangeable panels.
- If you’re working with a long backscene, always ask a friend to give you a hand. It’s always easier if there’s more than 1 person working on it.
- Always make your backscene at least 30cm/12″ tall. It’ll look far more effective and it’ll make it much easier to take better, more realistic photographs of your layout too.
- Think about the position of your horizon. Its position will depend on the area you’re modelling. If you’re basing your layout in East Anglia, your horizon will probably be low down. If you’re modelling the Scottish Highlands, you may well have a very high horizon if your layout is backed by hills and mountains.
- Experiment with ways to disguise the edges of your Model Railway Backscene. Use hedges, trees, tall grasses, fences, walls and static grass. For town scenes, low-relief buildings are a good way to hide the edges too.
- Your backscene should blend seamlessly with the rest of your layout rather than being the most prominent feature. Don’t make it draw attention to itself.
- Try to avoid sharp corners at the ends of your layout. There are no corners in the sky, so they shouldn’t feature on your layout backscene either. Use Bendy MDF or Plywood to make nice sweeping curves. You can get it from most DIY stores.
So there you go, hopefully there’s some useful tips there to get you on your way to creating the best and most effective Model Railway Backscene for your layout. Don’t forget, if you have any hints and tips on creating your own backscenes, please post them in the comments below.
* Picture courtesy of Fairlightworks