Brian’s backdrop ‘how to’

“Hi Al

Here is how a do my 3D backdrop.

I use 3mm (1/8”) Masonite (hardboard), makes no difference which side I use for my backdrop.

I cut it to the shape of the mountains that I want as well as the length.

Start with a coat of earth colour latex (PVA) paint over the whole area.

Mark out with a pencil where you want the closer hills and the hills further away.

Paint on white glue in a thick consistency starting at the bottom.

I use 4 colours of the ground foam from darkest to lightest.

Start at the bottom (closest) with the darkest green and work your way up using a lighter colour as you go.

Remember that the closest mountains are always darker that the furthest ones.

When all is dry, I mark out the different hills just to enhance the look of distance between the hills.

The photos show how it was done on 3mm thick Masonite for a section of my backdrop behind and under a bridge section.


A big thanks to Brian! (His original post is here).

Ebay cheat sheet is here folks.



18 Responses to Brian’s backdrop ‘how to’

  1. Very clever. I will use this next time. Thanks. D/

  2. Brian, makes me want to emigrate to see all your wonderful layouits , however in the meantime I,ll stick to ghis country ., and continue to make use of you ideas.
    All the very best Bernard

  3. Nice job Brian

  4. Hi Bernard what country you in may I ask.Those hill’s look super nice.great job that

  5. Excellent idea.

  6. Very simple and effective idea, thanks Brian!

  7. Thanks for the Tip on making a 3D Backdrop, as it stands out so much better than a Blowen Up Photo, also it looks better. So once again thank you!!!


  9. excellant will use this on my layout

  10. A beautiful job and one that I do not think many modelers think about. Way to Go!!!

  11. A Great Time Saving Idea. I Will Use this Suggestion.

  12. very nice backdrop, am doing that in the morning i now just have a blue wall, this is a great ides! now please elaborate on making the viaduct bridge as i need to make a couple or maybe long one thanks again for the post

    Dan from California

  13. Great idea on 3D backdrop. One suggestion I might make. Rather than marking out each mountain, cut out each layer separately. Add foam to each layer (be sure to add foam to the top edge). Glue each layer to the one behind it. Now you will have some actual depth. If you have enough room, adding shallow blocks of wood between each layer, you will further enhance the 3D effect.

    Carl in Kansas

  14. Very creative Brian- love the 3D effect. I’m working on an outdoor layout so at first glance this did not seem applicable for me, but it has me thinking about flat 3D facades I might use on the edges of my layout. Thanks for the inspiration!
    Cary in Kentucky

  15. Nicely done! You don’t have to be an artist or a painter to put up a very effective
    and convincing backdrop to your railroad and scenery!!

  16. I’ve been thinking of how to do a backdrop for my layout, and your idea seems to be a great option. To take it a bit further, perhaps I’ll cut out the shape of the nearer hills and glue them on front to give the illusion of more depth. Great idea, Brian.
    Jack in PA

  17. Yep great idea for a back drop ,something I’ve been putting off for ages..

    Thanks for sharing…

    Fred’s Wilbury Line

  18. Very nice and helpful simple but imaginative.

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