This thread will encompass most aspects of scenery to bring your layout to life. Whether your a novice or seasoned modeller, there may be something here for you to learn. Please note that these are my methods, tried and tested over various layouts, from Linden Ford to my ongoing projects. Hopefully I can show you that it is not difficult at all to pull off a realistic scenery, or perhaps just a small scene. Throughout this thread I will refer to the word 'scenic' instead of landscape. So, where to next..? I'll assume you are at the point where you have your track down, wired up and the whole layout, (whether that be a shelf layout, plank or something quite grande) and tested it to make sure all is working as it should electrically. Nothing worse than having to pull up a section of scenery that you have completed to repair a loose wire or a faulty switch mechansim. For myself, I have a plan in my head that I translate to either a sketch on paper, or drawn up in paint on the pc. The following pic of my plan on Industry Lane is an example : Another alternative is to take a photo of your layout or area in which you wish to scenic and draw over either a printed image or in paint on your pc, where everything will sit This example of Linden Ford gives a feel for the area in relation to building placement and scenery. As you can clearly see in the pics above, I can decide where I want green space, trees, hedgerows, retaining walls, a canal, possible hard surfaces such as roads and low relief and 3D models. By doing a sketch or overlay as such, you can see what will work, what looks right and what could be deleted or changed as the project goes on. But this is a great place to start. This part is all up to you to decide upon. I will add that research is the key here, whether that be simply looking through books, youtube videos, google maps etc to get a feel for what is right. This will be most valuable to you and if you are unsure, please ask the questions. The next thing to look at is rise and falls in the scene, or I could say gradients in the landscape. One thing we must remember as model railroaders, is that the landscape was there before the railway line and associated infrastructure. Most modellers when starting out generally lay their track down onto a cork road base or a similar material, directly onto the baseboard. I will use this method to describe the best way to carve your scene. I find it easy to use polystyrene foam as it is easy to cut, carve and shape. It is quite messy and a vacuum cleaner will be your best companion. The pic below shows what I wish to achieve. Glue down the roughly shaped polystyrene foam. Always cut these shaps oversize so that it gives you some leeway whilst carving and shaping. A few marks on the foam shows which way I wish the to shape the scenic base. Carve your scene with a shape knife and then with the use of a wire brush, the final shaping can take place. Remember, the vacuum cleaner is your best friend... Little tip : do this when SWMBO is not home ! This whole process of building up the landscape should be done across the whole of your layout if you are able to do so, as it creates some continuity. If your layout is of a substantial size, work on individual scenes and slowly build up the whole layout. I would recommend working from the hillier sections down to the lower sections of the layout. For example, work from the scenic breaks, tunnels, bridges, cuttings down each side to the low lying areas. Whilst installing the foam, it gives you the chance to build up around any platforms. If you are using a kit platform, ie, Scalescenes, Metcalfe, L-Cut, place these on the layout and gauge out the platform edge from the track. I gauge all my platforms using the widest locomotive or piece of rolling stock I have. Using a piece of 3mm card (1/8"), space the platform face accordingly and secure in place. Now behind your platform you can add the necessary foam to the correct height and carve or shape to suit the scene. Now is also a good time to install road profiles. Carving these from foam doesn't always work as it results in an uneven road surface, which is hard to smooth out without the use of copiuos amounts of plaster. Even then it is still quite difficult to make for a smooth surface. A few products I use is floor tiles or some off cuts of MDF. Below I have used cork floor tiles as I had these at hand. Cork or MDF can be glued into position with PVA or Liquid Nails (or equivalent). Once your road surfaces have been installed and cured, that is if you are using one of the items mentioned above, it is time to cover the layout with plaster. This will tie all the elements in together. There are a few items available to do this, one being plaster impregnated cloth. This is possibly the easiest and probably the cleanest method. The method I choose is cutting up Chux cleaning cloth (J Cloth) into 4" squares, dipped lightly into a smooth plaster mix and then laid out over the scene. A 1" wide soft bristle paint brush is useful here to smooth the plaster throughout and to push the cloth onto any sloped areas, especially where cuttings or tunnel mouths are modelled. Your fingers are also very helpful as well. Make sure you do not mix up too much plaster from the start. I recommend around half a cup of plaster to start with and work it from there. To create rocky out crops or a rough stone cut, there are moulds available or you can create your own using crumbled aluminium foil. Moulds are a good to use as they are made from silicone, but you don't want to be too repetitive with the same mouldings. Another method is the crumpled aluminium foil technique. To achieve this, double over some heavier foil and crumble up in your hands. You don't have to be too heavy handed here, but make sure there is a lot of form within the foil, once unraveled. Into this pour some casting plaster. You may have to support this in a tray until set. Once set, the foil can be removed leaving you a rough, jagged faced mould. This can now be broken down into individual pieces and glued to the scene with a little wet plaster. That's it for now, back with more tips son. Cheers, Gary.