Inexpensive Highly Detailed Printout Buildings For
Downloadable card kits of model railroads are made
from printed card or foam board and glued together with good quality instant glue. These card
models are often photo-realistic and finely detailed. They get downloaded online for the
railroader to print on to card or paper – when printing on paper, the kits are then glued to
cardstock, old cereal boxes, or foam board. Corflute and foam core sheets are also ideal
especially for low relief background buildings. The card or foam is usually cut ready to use
apart from spots where the pieces are attached to the card stock and these require cutting
with a sharp craft knife or scalpel.
Nowadays with the internet, model building
printouts can be downloaded and printed on your computers’ printer. The printed sheets of
paper need to be glued to thin card and once dried they can be cut out with a sharp craft
knife and a steel ruler to keep the cuts straight then by scoring where the glue tabs and
corners are they can be bent and glued.
It is best to work off a solid flat surface with a
cutting mat. I use a piece of 25mm MDF 300mm by 500mm and a craft cutting mat. A small metal
square is used to keep the building square and the MDF keeps the printout building level as
it is glued together. The cuts require a sharp blade and you may need to change the blade
quite often. Do not throw away the old blades as they can still be used to score the card for
bending. Care should be taken if you are cutting out the windows with the use of a pointed
blade and then these can be glazed with some thin celluloid that can be purchased from your
local hobby or craft shop. You can even use the clear acetate from product boxes you would
usually throw out. Cut it larger than required and glue in place taking care not to get glue
on the window where it can be seen.
These printable buildings are easy to make
providing you follow the instructions. I recommend that you leave a tab at the base of the
walls so that it can be folded inwards so that you have it to help glue the model building to
where you want it on the scene. If you want a bit more realism with these printout buildings
you can get molded corrugated iron card from your local hobby shop for the roof, but it will
require painting especially if you want the roof to look the same as the printed one. Decide
if you want a basic shed or if you want to detail it.
Adding Details to Printout Model
If people are to be present you can make the door
ajar and if you want the shed to be on a foundation cut a piece of card the right size and
glue it to the base add piles made of square timber or fold the card to look like a concrete
These railroad building can be lighted inside
providing all the joins are sealed with black acrylic paint so that the light doesn't show
through the joins etc. Remember if you add a light to make sure the light position is near to
the ceiling height so that the light shines down and is shown on the ground. A lot of people
forget and have the light shining upwards so it doesn't look right. You can add all sorts of
junk around the shed like wheels, tires, bits of plastic to look like steel off-cuts etc
depending on what the shed is to be used for.
With houses you can add lichen or small shrubs etc
for a garden with wooden edges shingle paths and of course people not just adults also small
children playing in the garden. You can add a dog or a cat, maybe some chickens if it’s a
country house. I usually add internal walls to the houses and a light in each room on
separate switches. Then decide if you want older yellow type lights that flicker with an
electronic circuit to represent an oil lamp or brighter lights in a more modern building. The
important point is to always consider safety when adding electrics to plastic buildings,
wood, foam, or card printouts. You don’t want to be responsible for starting a fire, so be
safety conscious and never take risks with electricity or hot wires or light bulbs. Typically
LED bulbs give off less heat. Remember, LED lights are not just for buildings, they'll work
well with signals and in trains.
Making Poles and Fences
I always add telephone poles and cotton to
represent over head wires in older scenes. Older country scenes need only two wires per pole
and no arms as the older type had an insulator on each side of the pole. Poles can be made
from meat skewers or tooth picks depending on scale. Country fences are usually post and wire
and these can be made from tooth picks and cotton, add trees bushes etc some had nicely
trimmed hedges other had over-grown bushes.
Constructing Industrial Scenes
Industrial buildings can have scale 6 foot fences
made from fine zinc mesh netting with gates made of the same or none at all if placed in a
rail yard. Some industrial buildings have a gate keepers hut and they monitor vehicles coming
and going. Nothing needs to be trim and proper. Some building can be a bit run down or
Add variety as this makes the scene more
interesting and don't forget the workers and vehicles and industrial junk scattered around,
derelict cars trucks etc even an old railroad wagon weathered and rusted that can serve as a
shed in older style scenes, containers in more modern scenes. A timber mill generates saw
dust so a pile of that behind the mill will add authenticity to the scene. Use N scale
buildings in the back ground if you model in HO scale as this gives a depth to your scenes,
also use smaller N scale trees, people vehicles etc.
Careful Placement of Buildings Adds Realism to
Placement of buildings is very important to the
overall look. Put them on the scene before gluing them down and stand back and view from
different angles and heights and shift them around until you are satisfied with the scene.
Sometimes I will leave them and go back the next day with fresh ideas. Run the trains and see
what works best. Your trains need to be planned also, no need to send cattle wagons to a saw
Most railroad yards would have a dispatcher’s
office, a small shed with windows in a small yard or something larger in a city yard either
with the freight shed or separate office elsewhere. I put my dispatcher’s office near the
exit to the yard so that the dispatcher can view the departing trains. I have workers amongst
the wagons on the sidings to look as if they are recording the wagons for the next consist. A
rail yard is a busy place and needs to look busy on your model. While your mainline trains
can take care of themselves or someone operating them, a switching or shunting engine
changing wagons at the freight shed adds some interest.
Planning a town or city requires some fore
thought. What printout model buildings will be needed and how many will you need? This
all-depends on what space will be needed.
Space Efficient Low Profile
Most of us would not have the space for a
full-blown town so we use back drops and low profile buildings to make the viewer believe.
Low profile buildings have a front and sides about 1/2 inch wide and are placed against a
back drop to make the transition between the picture in 2D and model in 3D. You can still
have these building lit and people on the side walks.
Vehicles are a different story; my mate runs a
couple of street cars (tram Cars) in N scale on the front of his town N scale low profile
buildings with a row of shops and houses in HO scale and a street car in HO scale in front of
them with the rail road station in front of that then the rail road. What you don't see is
the return tracks as they run behind a wall the two street cars looking the same only
different scales running in opposite directions and only one is seen at any one time. Whether
you use plastic, wood or card buildings is up the individual modeler as each has its own
Hornby has a range of buildings under Skaledale
and these come completely built up in Polly Resin and you can weather them or use them
straight from the box. They can be lit and placed on your layout. The walls of these
buildings are about 3/16 of an inch thick and can be easily glued in position. They do not
have internal walls, however their range covers building from a small shed to larger stations and generally cover the English buildings including terraced
With the advent of the new 3D printers coming on
the market modelling buildings will reach a new stage for the modeller where any type of
buildings can be made and in any scale, but the price of these printers will deter
Other places to purchase model buildings is online
auctions like eBay or on Craigslist where a lot of railroad accessories are available, but be
careful as sometimes the items can be bought in the shops new for the same price or cheaper.
Remember too, you still have postage to pay for unless you can pick the item up yourself. In
saying that some good bargains are still available and also if some parts are not in the kit
you don't have much of a come back. Some traders will refund the purchase price if you return
the kit however you have to pay for postage both ways.
These days model printout buildings are very
realistic resembling real photos of the actual structure. They are cheap to buy (with many
below $10) and they are easy to strengthen using extra card or even balsa or foam board. Have
fun operating your trains!
IMPORTANT: The buildings displayed on this
web page have weathered already, therefore is no requirement to include additional