Simple Steps For Creating A Great Looking Layout 

  1. Neatness Counts: Working neatly throughout the construction process costs nothing and pays large dividends down the road.  Use neat workmanship while constructing your bench work.  Keep your wire runs organized and neat.   Make sure your ballast is neatly applied and doesn’t stick to the side of the rails.  Make sure vertical objects such as trees and poles are indeed vertical.  Seat your structures firmly against the layout base without unsightly gaps.
  1. Fascia: Paint the fascia a dark olive color. Behr Paints “Wild Rice” is a safe bet.
  1. Track Color: For less detailed track such as Atlas and Walthers utilize a two tone application of Floquil Roof Brown as the base followed by a light dusting of Floquil Grimy Black (the application order matters, brown first, then grimy black)
  1. Ballast: Use a high quality ballast made from natural stone.  (many scenery suppliers use crushed walnut shells.)  Two good suppliers are Scenic Express and Arizona Rock and Mineral.
  1. Backdrop: Keep the shade a light powder blue as opposed to a dark sapphire.  Keep the horizon low and distant.   Shoot for a maximum horizon height of three to four inches.  Use muted colors for the horizon (usually a gray tone is best) and minimize the amount of detail painted on the horizon if at all possible.  Avoid painting white puffy clouds on the back drop.  If you want some color variation in the sky use subtle white and gray steaks instead of individual clouds.
  1. Trees: Super Trees are probably the most realistic brand on the market today. Make sure your armatures are realistically shaped and not twisted or bent to one side.  Paint the armature dark gray (Rustoleum dark gray auto primer works well).  For leaves use a green blend ground foam such as Woodland Scenics T1349.
  1. Vehicles: Use the highest quality vehicles on the market. You are better off with a few high quality cars than a lot of lower quality ones. Chose vehicle colors in a proportion appropriate for your era.  For example a modern era modeler should have 65% of their vehicles be white, gray, silver, or black. 
  1. Paint the bench work legs semi-glass black.
  1. Tone down your structures by airbrushing on a light India Ink/Alcohol wash. Make two strengths for the wash.  For light colored structures use a weaker wash of 1 teaspoon India ink mixed into a pint of alcohol.  For darker surfaces use a mix of 2 teaspoons of ink/pint of alcohol.
  2. Grass: Static Grass provides the most realistic look.  Use a blend as opposed to a solid color.  Heki Prairie Grass (pn 3363) as a base followed by green provides a good look.  Another good            product for representing grass are the Heki Grass fiber mats such as part number HK 1576 and HK 1577.

Scenery Supplier:  Scenic Express.

Ballast: Arizona Rock and Mineral