Model Train Layout Backdrop

Most model railroaders probably give little to thought to the fact that our model train layouts are constructed in an indoor setting of some sort.  We build them in whatever space is available, which can be in a basement, spare room, garage, or possibly an attic space.  However, the layouts which we spend so much time working to perfect even the smallest of details are in fact replicas of prototype railroads that are run and constructed outdoors.  An amazingly simple fact but often overlooked.

With that said, many hobbyist also dread  the prospect of creating scenery, which is in fact the more important part of constructing a layout, and especially if your ultimate goal is to create a realistic representation of an era or time period in the history of railroading.  One of the aspects of a model train layout which is given secondary importance is the backdrop which can literally bring your layout to life, and create the illusion that it is much grander in size than it actually is.


The choices for a backdrop scene are quite diverse, and only limited by the hobbyist imagination.  Also, he or she can elect to have the backdrop specifically tailored to their wants by a professional service, which therefore translates to the opportunity of having the flexibility of backdrop scenes that represent any and all locations or settings.  Moreover, the price for a backdrop created by a company who specializes in modeling scenes may be more than worth the money spent (typically not more than a few hundred dollars for an average sized layout), because it can be tailored to the exact size of your layout.  If you have the ambition to be a little more creative the modeler can also opt to create their backdrop themselves.  This is certainly a matter of personal choice, and depends on the time one has available for this type of project.

Given the importance for adding a backdrop to a layout, the modeler should give attention to how they are going to hang and support their backdrop in conjunction with the construction of the bench work.  This approach will not only save time, and money, it will also help prevent the inevitable disappoint which is sure to occur if this is considered on a secondary level of importance to the layout.

It would be a serious oversight if the model train hobbyist failed to give attention to the actual design of the backdrop.  One of the best ways to deal with this is to plan a field trip or two, and actually go to the area that the layout is being modeled after.  Take as many pictures as you possibly can, as they may serve as the impetus for what you decide to create, and the photos can also be enlarged and used for the backdrop itself.  The pictures you take may turn out to be a great way to save money, and these photos may serve as a guide to paint the backdrop yourself.  Incidentally, there are websites that will print your photos, and to the size specifications you indicate.  The only recognizable drawback is that the color of the print may not match the color quality of the original photograph.


If you’re a little intimidated about the prospect of painting a backdrop scene, not to worry.  There are plenty of websites which offer painting tips and guidance.  Keep in mind that you really don’t have the skills of a professional artist, and that perfect actually isn’t perfect which certainly applies to painting a backdrop scene.  The best advice is to just keep things simple for this type of project

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field