More model scenery from Gavin

Gavin kindly got back in touch after all the comments on my previous post:

“Dear Alastair,

Just to answer a few of the points made by people who saw my previous photographs. It is always interesting to hear other people’s views on one’s work good or bad.

The layout is accommodated in a hot which I designed and built and erected at the bottom of the garden. It is fully winterised with 2 inches thick of insulation and the offcuts were saved and used to make the scenery even so it was -9°C last winter inside.

The hut is 12′ x 10′ and the layout about 11` x 9′. It was built at a height from the floor of 4’8″ ie. at a eye level.

As you can see in some of the new pictures here it is built more as a diorama using hardboard for the valances on the top and the bottom which were then painted matt black.

The layout measures 2 ft. from back to front and 1ft  high, a ratio recommended for this kind of presentation.

All four corners have a large radius and hardboard has been used for mounting the back scenes I printed out on the computer using wallpaper backing paper.

This gives a muted effect on the pictures and thus more of a feeling of depth. Another way of showing depth in the scenery is to use N gauge people or animals on the distant hills where appropriate.

The canal and river are just the varnish poured from the tin and done in Blair’s letting it then more varnish added as required in between small amounts of grassy flock was added between some of the layers to simulate weeds under the water, it was brushed lightly to give the impression of the direction of flow of the water, let dry then more varnish added as required.

The whole layout is illuminated by fluorescent tubes hidden behind the upper pelmets and these are of different light valuables, for instance Sowerby Bridge was always a gloomy industrial town so that is the lighting effect I have tried to replicate. On the contrary the countryside is much brighter.

For those of you who live in this area of West Yorkshire you will recognise the steep hillsides of Hebden Bridge with the one up one down houses and the canal is the Huddersfield narrow canal at tunnel end near Marsden outside Huddersfield where the canal goes into a long tunnel alongside the railway beneath the Pennine hills.

Another scene you might recognise is that behind the row of houses and shops is the village of East Morton and the town of Keighley beyond with the Brontë moors and hills behind.

Finally I would be glad to hear if anyone knows how you can produce backdrops says 6 feet long by 1 foot high of pictures all joined together on the computer and printed out as I would like to improve my own and do them a bit more professionally if possible.


Gavin’s work is superb – hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I do enjoy reading about the tips and tricks you all use to bring your layouts to life.

Even after all these years I’m still amazed at what people use for their scenery.

Take insulation foam for exmample – lots of people use it for mountains.

But for tunnels? And stone walls? Take a look at how Tommy created these masterpieces:

HO scale tunnel.

HO scale tunnel stone walls

That’s all this time, folks. Please do keep ’em coming. Don’t forget the Beginner’s Guide is here if you want to get off the starting blocks and get involved.

Latest ebay cheat sheet here. Thanks for all the comments on it.



PPS More HO scale train layouts here if that’s your thing.

42 Responses to More model scenery from Gavin

  1. david says:

    exellent work

  2. David Holmes says:

    Gavin – You were asking about long printouts of your photos – Try a local display printers – there are lots of people out there now producing one-off digital prints for display purposes, in pop-up stands etc. – although they are normally 1 metre wide (or larger), you could ask them to stack 3 images on top of each other, and print them all out at the same time – Brgds – David H

  3. Larry Imbeau says:

    Any printing shop that has a plotter can easly print the 6′ x 1′ backgrounds you need. Actually I would set it up to have them print 2 or 3 – 6′ x1′ strips since their paper is usually 2 or 3 feet wide and this wouldn’t use anymore paper and give you back ups at no cost.

  4. Colin Styles says:

    Thankyou for the added notes regarding your layout in the hot (hut?) Would it be possible to clarify what you mean when you say, “………………the back scenes I printed out on the computer using wallpaper backing paper.”
    I’d really like to know how you did this, for example do you mean you cut A4 sheets from wallpaper lining paper?
    Thanks very much,

  5. george says:

    I liked the idea of the layout being higher off the ground and view as a diarama. It reminded me of when I was young and putting my eye at track level to watch the train. great work!!

  6. Gavin Fox says:

    Thanks George, I find it is much more realistic at eye level and another advantage is when the grandchilden come to”play” they can`t reach it, might be an blessing for some! When standing back from the layout a short distance you cant see the “roof” although I did put a roof on it is carefully `clouded` with to give the effect of a clouded sky especially over Sowerby Bridge!
    Yes the “hot” is a hut Colin. Regarding printing the back scenes I cut them A3 size from lining paper which you paste on a wall before the wallpaper is added. I then printed them from the computer on an A3 printer which when you buy a roll from the decorators shop is quite thick and absorbant so it mutes the colours when you print on it and gives a nice feeling of the scenary in recession. However as Larry has kindly pointed out it would be far neater and easier to have something like this done on professional machinary and I do remember that a lady in England used to advertise this service for railway modellers on the internet but she suddenly vanished without trace! You just sent her your pictures for your back scene and she would carefully stitch them together into one long panorama. Back to my method, I printed each sheet with slight overlap and trimmed them accurately before then sticking them with wallpaper paste to the hardboard.
    Thank you also Larry and David for your help on this point.

  7. Don E says:

    For my part your photo backgrounds look great… well done. I suppose
    you already know that there are a few free panaramic photo software packages available on the Internet, and some rather good ones for sale.
    You fellows there seem to pack alot of scenery in a small space. I’m more for the wide open plains and big sky. But it’s really impressive what you can do. Thanks for sharing. BTW, the water looks terrific as well. Warmest regards. done

  8. Brian Clauser says:

    Your backgrounds blend in very nicely. I like the “water using varnish” method. That seems to have worked just fine. Great work!

  9. Bob Mahon says:

    I’m a pretty handy guy and just starting with trains. However, most of the work I see and hear about on this site make me feel darned inept.

    The hints and direstions are terrific and I appreciate them.

    God bless.

  10. Owen says:

    Would you haappen to have a track plan for this? I am interested in building something in the same foot print and would love to see your design to help me with mine.

  11. Gavin Fox says:

    This is a very belated reply to OWEN!!
    Years on OWEN I have just picked up your query regarding a track plan for my layout in West Yorkshire (Sowerby Bridge).
    Yes I do have a track plan which I have drawn out on AutoCad.
    I could either send you a print or email it to you if you have AutoCad software installed.

  12. Free Proxies says:

    Very helpful details. Fortuitous everyone I discovered your web blog by accident, and I’m amazed precisely why this particular incident would not happened earlier! My spouse and i saved as a favorite this.

  13. danie says:

    that is a super layout… keep them coming

  14. Marc says:

    Absolutely marvelous I am not a train guy I love my 1 32 slot cars and seeing this has really got my attention when time permits can you point me in the right direction on what train should I start with,my goal is to implement the train layout to my slot car layout thanks in advance.Marc

  15. Allen says:

    That is beautiful work. Hoping I find time to start mine soon.

  16. Jeff Graham says:

    AMAZING…..the backdrop is a frame to everything in front…..great looks!

  17. Bill Waymire says:

    Your work finishes an otherwise unfinished layout.

  18. Carl in Kansas says:

    On backgrounds, I have been mentally toying with a rather unique idea. Start with the usual transitional hills and trees, no great height required. Paint the wall a light blue, lighter than the traditional sky blue.

    On a day when the clouds are drifting by, shoot a lengthy video of passing clouds moving right-to-left or left-to-right. Set this up as a loop on a computer.

    Using a video projector, project the video on the light blue wall. As clouds pass over the hills, they will go darker and lighter. This will add unusual action to any layout. If your transition line includes buildings, passing clouds will add interest to these as well. I think this would work especially well for a diorama.

    Just an idea I have, and I will probably never use it. My layout is a 5’ x 8’ rectangle with no transitional background. Any comments or ideas? If anybody has tried it, I would like to hear about the results.

    Still in Training,
    Carl in Kansas

  19. Frank Hughes says:

    Like the way you have gone along the lines of building a hut to accommodate your railway Gavin. Like the older scenic view of your layout. Think the 50s and 60s is a nice time for buildings and scenery. In the past I have painted countryside on to the walls of a back drop. But wish I was a bit better artist tho! Love your pics they are very informative. Many thanks Gavin.

  20. Craig Burton says:

    Nice job,great looking layout! Thanks for all the answers and so on,Where are the TRAINS on this layout?!

  21. Jim says:

    Sure looks great!!!

  22. Tom Foster says:

    I would like to see more 027 layouts

  23. Nice work! I am curious where you found the English style row houses. Here in the states I have a had a fruitless search.

  24. Brad says:

    @130AM. IMO a layout is a layout in any scale,the only difference being the dimensions of the table size,so why,other than the required space,would not this layout work in 027 gauge? or N or Z?.Now they have TT gauge.This boggles the mind.You can make a layout in a shoebox(my eyes are not up to this HAHA)

  25. Larry Zarling says:

    What did you use and how did you create the country back drops. They are great and look fantastic. Please tell us. Thanks. Larry

  26. Steven Joyce says:

    I would like to know where he got those high rise buildings. The only ones I can find are those old style US buildings. Keep hoping someone will make some things that are post 1950-60’s

  27. Thomas Murphy says:

    Gavin ~ most enjoyable and well blended presentation.

  28. My hats off to the man with enough patience to build such a beauty!!!!!
    AS to the scenary situation, if you have Z fold paper in your printer with a banner
    program, you can make it as long as you want. At one time I went to 25 foot.. On a
    personal note, I enjoy learning new words from you people. It seems there is
    quite a difference between the Kings English and the US language. Thanks
    again for the difference,,,( coming from a 79 year old retired electrician )Ri

  29. yale schiffman says:


    Great details. Like the landscaping most of all. Thanks for the pics.

  30. Ted Tower says:

    Great work. Anything in G scale?

  31. Tom Fahlbusch says:

    Wowza. This is the coolest thing I’ve seen in sometime. I need to get some photos of the layout my brother is doing for me. I’ll post the beginning construction and when he is finished. He is quite the artist and cannot thank him enough.

  32. Spence says:

    The images look great. Looks like many hours has gone into both planning and building the layout. You could buy a printer that can change from sheet paper to continuous supply (rolls of paper). I have one to print A3 images, but can also change it to print on rolls of paper up to the length of the roll long if need be. The photo’s or images you want to join can easily be done in a program such as Photoshop Elements or other software that is free to use. Once it is done, just press print and you have it. You can also enlarge of shrink the images depending if you want to reduce the size etc. Hope this helps. Good luck.

  33. Laurence Johnston says:

    Wonderful layout. Great detail. Nice to see cars and lorries giving it a realistic feel. Well done Gavin

  34. Absolutely Fantastic and worthy of Praise. These scenes are spectacular!

  35. Mr. Ralph P says:

    Love the UK pics……pf

  36. Steve W. says:

    Gavin, your work and photos are spectacular. I wonder if you’d consider posting some photos showing the structure of the dioramas (the shelf, overhead lighting, etc.) as I am planning a layout based on a series of diorama modules and like the idea of an eye-level structure. Thanks for sharing your work.

  37. Eddie Reeves says:

    WOW. Beautiful work. Retired 73 year old just getting back into model railroading. Have O gauge Lionel as base FasTrac style. Have larger layout 10 ft x 8 ft. U-shaped. Want to incorporate scenes from the 50;s in the mountain region of East Tennessee. Live in Kingsport, TN. Just now laying out track design. Having fun just dreaming, moving, adjusting the layout to give me the best situation to allow for a rail yard and town. Will send along pics as I make progress.
    So pleased to have this site to hear from folks.

  38. paul (giddykippa) says:

    i often visit hebden bridge its only a short drive from me you even have the buses painted the correct colour such a nice layout

  39. Al Rocheleau says:

    To Carl in Kansas:
    I am in Sedgwick county, just in the planning stages for my HO layout in a 12′ x 13′ room, and would love to see your layout and discuss it with you.

    Gavin: Beautiful layout. Is an overview picture possible? Curious to see the whole layout in the space described.

  40. GaryM from Long Island says:

    Wow….the backdrops are the best I have ever seen. The scenery and buildings and scenes are some of the best I have seen. Bravo…….what a layout.

  41. Tod says:

    Truly exceptional blending of the layout and backdrop pictures!

  42. Don says:

    well done, great details & nice English town.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *