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Scenics – Rocks (part one)

Scenery – Rocks

In this article we’ll look at adding/creating rocks to your layout. An interesting scenic feature to add to a layout is rocks & cliffs. A few examples where rock/cliff scenic features on a layout could be used are:

  • Railway cutting
  • Railway embankment
  • Seaside scenes
  • River scenes
  • Mountain scenes
  • Quarries
  • Deserts
  • Inside tunnels
  • Mines

How do you create & make rocks or use ready to plant rocks? Lets take a look…

Rock Items & Rock Making Tools

So items are available to make rocks? For starters you buy off the shelf ready made rocks in a variety of shapes, sizes & colours. These can be pre made from plaster or pre-moulded in hard foam type material, often they come pre-painted. The pre-made rocks are quick & easy to install.

Next is rock making moulds which allow a variety of different sizes of rock to be cast using plaster. If you don’t fancy buying rock moulds, you can make your own using kitchen foil or use a latex moulding kit to take a mould off a real rock.

One older method for rocks is Cork Bark. These can be used to simulate rock faces, available from model shops & garden centres. Other items that can be used are lumps of coal (painted to suit your layout) & actual small rocks.

For painting rocks, earth coloured washes are available from the likes of Noch, Gaugemaster amongst others. Use these to paint numerous washes on plaster cast rocks, to create natural looking rocks. One method used to do this is the leopard spotting method.

In the gallery below is a selection of rock making items & pre made rocks. We’ll list a few links at the end of this article.

Pre-made rocks

Pre-made rocks are quick & easy to install on a layout. Pre-moulded hard foam rocks like the ones that come from Noch come on a sheet as seen on the right. They come in a variety of colours, but can be painted to customise the rocks to suit your layout.

Having removed the pre-moulded rocks from the packet, place on to a cutting mate. Use a craft knife with a fresh sharp blade & carefully cut the rocks free from the flat sheet. The rocks can be carved & cut to suit using a craft knife, razor saw, hot wire cutter.

In this example can be seen one pack of rocks cut free from the flat backing sheet. For size reference a HO scale model figure has been placed along side one rock to give you an idea of size.

Having cut free the rock pieces, decide where you want them on your layout. In the example on the right, the rock pieces are being placed on to land form slope. The land form slope could be made from Woodland Scenics Shaper sheet, Modroc,  chicken wire covered in newspaper & plaster, Noch land form sheets etc.

To fix the pre-moulded rocks into place, use a foam friendly glue, PVA glue, or as shown in the photo right a hot glue gun.

Using plaster such as Noch land form plaster, Woodland Scenics plasters, Pollyfilla etc, apply to the areas around the pre-moulded rock forms. Be sure to overlap the plaster over the bottom edges of the rocks. Think how rocks sit on a hill side & that some rocks can have surrounding soil/grass covering more along the top & sides of the rock, whilst the lower parts of the rock more exposed & eroded by water etc.

As you work the plaster surrounding the rocks, use a brush to stipple the wet plaster to create a more rocky appearance. One the plaster has dried other tools such as metal brush, wire brush can be dragged across the surface to create cracks, gaps etc. Use a vacuum to clean up any excess plaster dust. Save any small bits & lumps of plaster as these can be used for loose rock fall & scree.

The next job is to paint the plaster, which will look at in another forth coming article.

Part 2 to follow…

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