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Modelling Rockfaces

Modelling Rockfaces

Modelling Rockfaces

Rockfaces are seen at many locations around the railway network, from railway cuttings, on the side of some embankments, mountain scenery, coastal scenery etc. Adding a rockface or two to your layout can add visual scenic interest to your layout. They are very easy to make using modelling plaster, or the likes of polyfiller general purpose plaster, etc. Other methods are using expanding foam & also using tissue from toilet rolls can also give a very effective end result. We’re going to look at the plaster method.

First, make your landscape using formwork which can be made from chicken wire, polystyrene, card strips, newspaper scrunched up, Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheets etc. Next overlay the formwork using one of the following:

  • Modrock (plaster bandage)
  • Newspaper soaked in water to form a paper mache layer
  • Woodland Scenics Shaper Sheets

Then add a layer of plaster over the overlay material & allow it to dry & set fully. One method that can be implemented is to press a piece of kitchen aluminum foil sheet (scrunch it up first & then open it out) into the plaster whilst it’s still wet. Once the plaster has set carefully peel the kitchen aluminum foil sheet off the plaster. This should leave a nice rough looking type rock face. For adding more details like cracks & fissures etc rockfaces create these using a carving tool, stiff wire brush, flat blade screwdriver.

Another method is to use rockface molds from the likes of Woodland Scenics, Noch etc. These come in various sizes & shapes, from a single one-piece mold to multi-piece mold. To use these mix & fill with plaster, then leave to set. Once set carefully peel the mold off the cast rock piece. On the back of that, there are various mold making kits on the market. These you mix up the mold material & apply it over the item you want to make the mold off. So, for example, you can use it to make a mold using a real piece of rock. Apply over the piece of rock & leave to cure. Once the mold material has cured, carefully peel the mold off the rock & your good to go to use it cast your own bespoke rockfaces.

To install the cast rock pieces onto your landscape, either use a suitable glue or mix up some more plaster, apply on to the back of the rock piece & place onto your landscape. To paint the rocks use what’s known as the leopard spot method, in which you dab various colours on to the cast rock piece starting off with lighter colours working through to darker colours. The last colour should be a dark wash which will bind all the colours together giving excellent end results.

In this video by Woodland Scenics, you’ll see how to cast & install rockface castings on to a layout landscape scene. They also cover painting the rocks using the leopard spot method as mentioned above. Well worth a watch!!

For making rock molds using Kitchen Foil see this video by Terrain Tutor:

Another video that also takes a look at painting rockfaces:

Once you’ve painted the rockfaces add some vegetation in & around the rock faces, such as in some of the cracks & crevices. Next your out & about & see rock faces, rock cuttings etc, make notes on how the rocks look, how the vegetation sits on & around the rocks. Take plenty of reference photos as these will come in handy. If you can’t get out to any area’s with rockfaces, do an internet search for rockface images. It’s also worth noting what colour the rocks are as this can help set your layout to a specific area or location.


Above all have ago & experiment with which method & technique works best for you.

Happy Modelling.


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