Creating a Backdrop for your Model Railroad Layout

Posted by Dustin Bethel on

Creating a backdrop for your model railroad enhances your scenery and helps to set the tone of your model railway. It also helps: 

  • Frame the scene
  • Hide distractions
  • Acts as a divider
  • Gives depth perception from foreground to horizon

While most hobbyist may advise working on the backdrop first to avoid getting paint and glue getting on your model, there is no right or wrong way to get started. 

Here are a few tips and tricks to creating a backdrop that will appease you and your audience.

1. Establish your horizon - Establish your horizon, where the scenery meets the sky. While others may vary in height and view the horizon different from your eye level, it is important to maintain the same horizon throughout your scenery to stay consistent and realistic. 

2. Consider shadows - For a more realistic approach, consider lighting in your background. Which way is the light facing? Can you utilize that to create a more dramatic effect for your backdrop?

3. Consider your method - Are you the artistic type? Or would you rather buy a backdrop and insert it into your layout to play it safe? Either way, consider which method works best for you, and remember to have fun with it! You can purchase pre-made backdrops to use as a landscape, or you can paint your own background. 

If painting your own scenery, remember to include the important elements such as clouds, trees and buildings. Remember to include mountains and hills if wanted, as this adds detail and depth. 

4. Think outside of the box - It's always best to think outside of the box with any artistic project. Consider using your own photographs for a more dramatic backdrop. To do this, you can take a series of photos on a tripod to capture a landscape shot. Try using distant or landscape scenery for a realistic backdrop.


Overall, remember to have fun on your model railway endeavor! Whatever methods you choose to utilize to create your backdrop, it is important to blend in your foreground scenery on your layout to match your backdrop as much as possible. 








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