As with all things in railway modelling and diorama building, there are a million and one ways to do things, and nowhere on a layout does that apply more than in the creation of rock faces. Over the years, modellers have tried endless different approaches. Many of which give fantastic results, but some are easier to master than others. You can mould them using proprietary moulds & plaster, use mod-roc or plaster impregnated bandage, cork bark, real rocks (watch the weight on the baseboard though), you name it, we’ve tried them all! But one of the tried and tested, virtually free methods, is to use paper mache.
In the past when I’ve wanted to build hills and rock faces, paper mache has come in very handy indeed. I’ve used it just to coat a chicken wire framework for smooth rolling hills on a layout I built many years ago. I’ve even used nothing but paper mache to build an entire tunnel once upon a time, gradually building up layers of very mashed up newspaper which I spent hours dragging back and forth in a wheelbarrow with a garden rake, over a former made from house bricks and a length of upturned guttering to create the tunnel through which the track would run. Rolling hills are great though, but what if you want to create a more rugged & jagged looking rock face? Can paper mache really work?
Well the answer is most definitely yes, if you take the right approach. As you’ll see in this excellent video from PhilipStephens007, rather than mashing up the paper, a more calculated & layered approach can work very well indeed. All you need is some scrap copier paper or newspaper and some PVA glue. You can use card board, chicken wire, a wooden frame or anything as a support for your rock faces, but the actual construction method is always the same and is very very simple.
The basic technique involves gluing folded sheets of paper over each other to create the main face, then you can use rough sawdust or any other suitable material, overlaid with kitchen towels & more pva to create a rougher, more jagged surface. Finally three coats of paint: a dark colour, mid colour and a dry-brushed light colour will really bring out the rock face. Lastly, use a very dark shade of your main rock colour to add cracks & crevices with a fine paint brush. The finished results can look fantastic with a little trial and error.
This technique works for pretty much any scale too… from N gauge & OO scale, right up to real life 1:1 scale for theatrical scenery, and it costs virtually nothing to do too!
Hope you enjoy the video.