HOW TO CONSTRUCT CARDSTOCK BUILDINGS FOR RAILROAD
guest columnist Ben Thompson
Model railroads have developed into a thriving hobby for thousands of modelers worldwide. With many
enthusiasts not satisfied with a round or oval track, this fancy is now, not limited to intricately
designed railroad models at museums. A lot of people have taken to designing and depicting
life-size railroads, and making life-like imitations of various famous railroads. While of course,
the train is the most important part of the rail road, there are 5 important essentials that need
to be taken care of while designing a railroad.
These include the
1. Railroad stations: train stations, both large
ones, and remote smaller ones, add to the details and the realistic feel of the layout.
Large stations can be used at the beginning and end of the track, and to mark bigger
destination points. Small train stations can be used in remote places along the railroad
layout to service small communities or industries.
2. Landscape: scenery adds dimension and depth to the railroad layout. Adding mountains, trees, and
shrubbery, and maybe a canyon, can help make the model look life-like. Tunnels through mountains
have always been a favorite.
3. Buildings: adding building like warehouses, railyard buildings, and even residential and street
buildings will add to the authenticity of the layout. Buildings can be used as landmarks, and even
for depicting ageing, in cases where the model railroad depicts a scene from the past.
4. People and animals: a deserted railroad can be scary, even if it is a model. Having people or
animals scattered around the layout can make it more realistic and “add life” to the railroad.
5. Lights and signs: minor detailing such as adding lights and signs to the track can aid in making
the railroad look more mesmerizing and interesting.
With more and more people taking up railroad
modeling as a hobby, there are numerous aids for enthusiasts to build their models. From
cardstock buildings available online, to stores where items are available. Modelbuildings.org
is one such website, offering various cardstock building plans that can easily be purchased,
downloaded, and printed as per choice. Once purchased, the designs can then either be printed
immediately, or saved for later use.
Cardstock buildings or paper buildings designs
can be bought off the website, and printed on paper of choice. The models, on the website,
are designed as per specific dimensions. It is important to make sure they are thus printed
in accordance with the scale of the railway. The default scale is OO, but the building
designs can be zoomed up or down, to suit the HO, N, Z, or S scales. Below is the
conversion aid for the same:
If the model is OO scale, just print
a 100 % zoom copy of the structure.
If the model is HO scale, the print
should be reduced to an 87 % zoom copy
For an S scale , zoom to 118
For a Z scale , zoom down to 35
For an N scale, the copy should be 48
% of the original
Another important aspect of the printing is the
paper quality and the printing quality. Light weight paper (90-120 gsm) is easy to fold, and
print. Also, a high quality print is advised for the final print. For the first print, a low
quality print works best.
Once the print is ready, it should be stuck on
cardstock (hence the term card-stock buildings). Alternatively, cereal pack boxes can also be
used. The extra areas should them be cut off, and scored along the folding lines. Care should
be taken to not cut, but only score enough to provide ease of folding and sharp folds.
Scoring along flap fold lines is also important to make sure the flaps fold properly. Once
this is done, the model print should then be cut-out using 2-3 strokes, instead of one heavy
stroke. Fold along the lines, and apply glue on the flaps. Stick together all the pieces as
per the instructions included to have a realistic cardstock building for the
Real life railroads, tracks and locomotives
included, get worn out and weathered. Constantly under the influence of weather and use, real
railroads acquire a used, worn down look. Besides the cardstock buildings added for
detailing, weathering techniques can make the railroads, and even the buildings look more
realistic. Weathering techniques are specifically useful for scenes depicting the past, where
it is important to show the wearing down. Below are 3 weathering techniques that can be used
to achieve a more realistic looking railroad.
1. Dry Brushing Technique This
technique requires the use of a dry paint brush and the appropriate color. Dip the brush in
the paint, and then wipe down maximum paint off the brush. This can be done using a paper
towel, or by sliding the brush along the edges of the paint bottle. Then, paint over the
structure. The dry brush will leave streaks making the card stock building look old.
Different brushes and strokes can be used to create various effects. Different colors can be
used: a mixture of red, orange, and brown can be used to depict rust; exhaust stains can be
depicted using gray; and oil and grease can be shown with black. Matte acrylic paints work
best in most cases.
2. Wash to Highlight Using
textured surfaces on train cars and buildings can aid in this technique. A mixture of paint
thinner and paint in a 10:1 ratio can be used to add to the textured effect. This technique
can be used to add texture to landscape and scenery also. E.g. the mixture of paint thinner
and India ink in the 10:1 ratio can be used to add depth and dimension to
3. Dull and Dirty Spraying with
black or brown over the trains and the buildings in the model will make them look a little
dirty. Squeaky clean and shiny looks fake and is never life-like. To remove the
straight-out-the-packaging look, side motion airbrushing with a
mixture of paint and paint thinner will help. It will make the train cars and buildings look
dirty, and worn out, and hence, much more realistic.