I'm new to scenery: what should I buy?
Welcome to Scenery, I guess you're here to ask one, simple question: where do I start?
Scenery is effectivley an art form and really, is the most creative part of the model railway. It's where a blank board with track on turns into a realistic scene. There's a lot to it and I'm sure you're also asking things like "what do I buy" and "how do I do it well". Luckily we have answers to both of those questions, but first - we'll run through a brief summary of the timeline of adding scenery to your model railway...
That first question: Where do I start?
It's all personal preference, but if you're looking at adding scenery to your layout, as a general rule you would ideally have the track down and in place, as well as it all wired up, working and tested. This is because scenery is the cosmetic part and it's better to avoid ripping it up later as you've realised some wire needs to go where you've built your hill!
The timeline of scenery tends to follow a few basic steps:
1. Before embarking, we recommend at least some basic planning. "Where will my station go", "Where will my farm go", etc. Draw it out if you have to - this will give you a better idea of what to buy and will avoid you potentially buying incorrect items and wasting money.
2. We tend to advise people to start with ballasting their track - a relatively simple job and one that gets you started. Of course you may not want to ballast or you may have gone with an inlay roll, so you'll skip this step.
3. Terrain & Landscaping. Adding things like hills, embankments, and cuttings. Always best to do this first, as it provides your base!
4. Groundcover. Adding things like rocks, cliff faces and then your first layer of scatter or scrub.
5. Planting your buildings. It's great to plan out where you buildings go before you start, but once you're ready to plant, go ahead!
6. Adding "height". Do this by planting hedges, fences, trees, shrubs and adding extra bits like static grass.
7. Detailing: this is where you add vehicles, figures and generally finish off the scene.
Of course there are some optional steps like adding working lights which can be inserted at a point in time of your choice, but that's a rough guide of how scenery is usually put together.
What do I buy?
There's no right or wrong when it comes to scenery. There are plenty of brands to choose from like Peco, Woodlands Scenics, Ratio, Wills, Metcalfe, Gaugemaster, Busch and more and they both have their pros and cons. Some, like Woodlands Scenics, are a premier product aimed mainly at trees and flora, whereas Metcalfe, Ratio and Wills are aimed soley at buildings and structures.
It's up to you as to what you buy and depends on quality, budget and of course, personal preference, but amongst the pages here we do make a few recommendations as sometimes spending just a few quid more can really make the difference - especially with something as visual as scenery!
How do I do it well?
By learning and practice. There is no "school" of scenery but there are plenty of tutorials out there, mainly on websites like RMWeb and Youtube which show you how to use specific products and they are worth their weight in gold. If you haven't done already, we also recommend joining your local club as you can often find very experienced modellers here who have the capability to do things you never thought were possible using things you never thought could be used!
But it's mainly practice - in my personal opinion, when I put my first layout (I still have it) next to my latest, there is a HUGE difference. I've learn so much from tutorials, other layouts and talented modellers I have come across and this shows in the layouts I build now - and I'm sure it will be the same for you too!
So, without further ado, please take a look through the other categories which you can find by hovering over "Scenery & Buildings" in the top menu bar on our website. Each one displays the relevant products along with helpful tips and tricks and the occasional video tutorial to show the best way of using specific products!
And of course, we are all modellers here ourselves so we are more than happy to answer any questions you may have! We know you're starting this and it may seem a little daunting, so please, if you have any questions at all please do not hesitate to get in-contact - we are more than happy to help!
In this category, we've listed some reference products you could invest in to get you started - things like guides, catalogues and even some DVD's!