Lou’s mountain ‘how to’

Lou kindly posted the below after his last post (which is here).

“Depending on the type of mountains you are trying to model, there are different techniques. This is also the case for color. I have played with numerous ways and my best technique was to use the styrofoam for the base and shape only. Once the shape was maintained, I casted molds using very large molds from Bragdon enterprises and used a resin for the castings instead of plaster. The resin will give you much sharper edges and detail.

If you choose to use a plaster, make sure you use the same material for the fills from one cast to another, otherwise your color will not match based on the material you are painting. Once this is done, I painted the whole mountain using white gesso paint mixed with latex Kilz2 primer. At this point, you are now painting on gesso like a normal artist does.

Everything from here started with a black powder that was sponged into the crevices. Once dry, I started with a diluted layer of yellow ocre. EVERY coat must be dry before continuing. After 3 coats of yellow ocre, your mountain is still no darker than a manilla folder. After the yellow ocre, continue DRY BRUSHING with raw sienna, then a mix of titanium white and paynes grey….again light coats and never covering completely over what you did. Continue with your dry brushing moving toward your darkest color. A final slight dry brush stroke of titanium white is then placed on the edges to enhance contrast and highlights. This sounds tedious but the result is astonishing..like real rock and not painted styrofoam.








“Another idea for fence is to find lace ribbon in the type of pattern you want for the fence and lay it out flat and spray paint it silver or black, or any color you like and use 1/16 square stock balsa wood for posts and top/bottom rail, glue ribbon to wood. The materials are cheap and go a long way.


“Al …. I have an O gauge Lionel Fastrack layout. I use battery operated LED Christmas lights for interior lighting in my buildings. A string of 20 lights costs less than $10 and runs on three AA batteries. I cut the string in pieces and add wire as needed to place inside of buildings. Attached is a photo of a couple of lighted buildings.

Enjoy your emails.. Bill”


Thanks to Lou, Bill and Tony. Please do keep ’em coming.

And if you haven’t got off the starting blocks with your layout yet, this one is for you.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

32 Responses to Lou’s mountain ‘how to’

  1. Willard Siscel says:

    That is some more beautiful work. I have traveled all over the US. and it looks just like some of the mountains Ihave seen out wast, Colorado, Idaho, and Grand Cannion. Wow, what a nice job. Will Siscel.

  2. Don says:

    Lou, all I can say is WOW. Thanks for sharing.

  3. jim morris says:

    Great job. Much work went into this project. as an artist, i enjoy your technique.

  4. John Bos says:


  5. Rod Mackay says:

    Lovely rock work, very realistic. Extrememly glad I don’t live in that place right under the cliff!

  6. Bob Townsend says:

    Brilliant. Very realistic. Thanks for sharing. BobT

  7. Dick chapple Sr says:

    Stunning!! That is so believable, If the pictures were cropped, I wouldn’t be able to tell if it is pictures of actual places or a model.
    Another good idea for fence is always a plus. Transforming junk and stuff into good things needed on our layouts.
    Buildings can now be lighted on an inexpensive level and be safe also with these ideas.
    Thank you guys for taking the time and effort to share with all of us.

  8. Pete Evangel says:

    Great looking mountains. One problem I had using Bragdon molds and his two part resin was the release agent he recommended was Vasoline (petroleum jelly). It worked great as a release, HOWEVER, when I tried to do the Gesso or any other pre-paint mix, I found that the base mix (gesso) would not stick very well. I tried rubbing all the petroleum jelly off, at least as much as possible, but try as I might, there was always that residue.

    Lou, have you come across anything else that worked better for a release agent in the molds? His molds I found are some of the best and can be used quite effectively. I just dont care for the mold release stuff.

    That said, your mountains look fantastic! Wonderful job.

  9. mark stjohn-jones says:

    terrific ‘rock’ work
    and nice idea for lighting
    keep it runnin guys!!

  10. tom says:

    The mountains are amazing Thanx Lou for sharing. Thanx to Bill and Tony for your tips Fence lighting.

    Thanx Al

    best regards,

  11. paul Otway says:

    nice work Lou.

  12. Ian Mc Donald says:

    these are great tips i keep them all and when i go to do something like it i can go back and reread the colouring you use on the mountains is so important. my wife picked up the lights from our spot light store so easy to work with. thanks to everyone for their in put keep them coming.

  13. Carl in Kansas says:

    I have heard of using talcum powder or baby powder as a release agent. I haven’t tried it, so can not vouch for its effectiveness, but you should be able to paint over it.

  14. Ed Clark says:

    Good idea on lighting w/Xmas tree lights. However if you have the one goes out they all do you gonna have issues. Another trick is to try them one at a time usually on a single battery 1.5 volts and wire them in parallel solving the shell game hunt problem. An old transformer works too where you can vary the voltage, longer life, heat and illumination.

  15. john says:

    That is not model rocks it is a work of art. Fantastic Work Indeed. I bet you are a bit of an artist as well as railway modeller. Would love to see and watch you do it, it would be better than the written word.
    Fantastic work.

  16. john popp says:

    Like all the others said : WOW such talent didn’t go to waste. Just BEAUTIFUL, jOHN

  17. don kadunc says:

    Great rocks. I especially like the sloped area. I may try it that way. I am using Christmas tree LED lights from China to light a “staging” area under my main line. In a few weeks I will send pictures to show why I highlighted the “staging” area.

  18. Art says:


    From my experience especially as a first time construction “foreman”, the Bragdon Enterprises resin compound is the only way to go! If you want instantaneous drying time and adhesion. Trust me!

  19. Rich Halbert says:

    Astonishing rock walls and great instructions!

  20. Bill McCourt says:

    Your rock work is astonishing! Thanks for sharing with us.
    Bill from Dover, DE

  21. Robert Brady says:


  22. Michael Sabbeth Esq says:

    Stunning achievement!
    Time and attention are evident.
    Thank you for sharing.

  23. Colin Edinburgh says:

    Lou. Thanks for the tips. I have to say your rock faces are the most realistic I think we have had on the forum. The first 2 photos could be of real rock cliffs. Thanks again for sharing the technique.

  24. Dave the welder says:

    A good idea for a release agent is just that ! You can drop by a building supply store and buy just a gallon of the same stuff we use on the big jobs on the reusable forms (bring you own container) it’s sold by the drum full when you tell them what your doing they just might give it to you . And it has a pleasing cherry smell .

  25. Hi Al
    I’m not an inputter in to the site, just an idealist and over the year have picked some wonderful idea’s and info that is much appreciated.
    Hopefully next year I shall be putting a outside garden railway together for 00, including the live steam series from Hornby.
    Can I say, many thanks to your inputters who share their ideas and thanks to you for having a central site to share them.


  26. Don Mebius says:

    Wow! Fantastic!
    What type of paint do you use? Acrylic? Water color?
    A comment I would like to add is if you use plaster, I add the rough splinters of saw dust to give the plaster more texture.
    Al, THANK YOU for these wonderful emails!

    Don from Philadelphia

  27. Marklin ed says:

    As an artist and a model railroader, they teach in art you to work from dark to light colors, just as Lou said. Great looking mountains. Thank for the information.

  28. Marvin says:

    The petroleum jelly is an old technique. Bragdon has a product called magic bullet that you treat the mold first. Then you spray the mold with a white lacquer which is the release agent. Do not use enamel paint. When you purchase his resin product it is in the instructions.

  29. Will in NM says:

    Lou, those are some realistic looking mountains but they sound like a lot of work and cost to achieve that look. Bill in Virginia’s method seems a lot quicker and easier and he gets very good results too.

    Tony, What exactly is “ribbon lace”? I’ve used something called “tulle” or netting that is good for simulating chain link fencing. What kinf of fence are you creating with the ribbon lace? Some photos would help us understand the idea better.

  30. Corrie says:

    Good day. I have used Spray n Cook as a releasing agent and it worked very well. I assume that some other baking spray like Spray and Bake will also work.

  31. Erick says:

    Pretty neat.!!

  32. The mountains look very good but it doesn’t mean anything if you don’t know how to get there, it would help to see the process cause I believe that once you have an idea of how to, then you can move forward with more or less of what you want thank you for sharing they do look good, Benny

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