Peter Verheyen's and Family's Layouts in H0, N, and Z


Papphausen: Current projects and activities...

Papphausen2: YouTube videos from the layout and beyond

Current Layout

Past Layouts

Hope's Z

N-Scale Module Project

Scratchbuilding / Eigenbau

Switching Puzzle / Rangierspiel

A Day in Nördlingen / Ein Tag in Nördlingen, by David Broda

Prototypes / Vorbilder

Boothbay Railway Village Steamcourse



Engines / Loks



PV Home

Modelling Structures in Card – Tutorial

By Peter D. Verheyen © 2006

This tutorial accompanies the article Modelling Structures in Card, which was published in an abridged form in the ETE Express, No. 112, 4th Quarter, 2006

Building a Background Model from a Photographic Image | Introduction | Online Resources

Below are step-by-step illustrated instructions for scratchbuilding a half-relief background model based on an image on the Busch CD. Busch’s CDs of background images contain a large number of diverse structures just begging to be turned into background, or with other enhancements, into foreground structures.

Tools used

Metal ruler, triangle, teflon bonefolders, needle awl,
scalpel, utility knife, scissors, cutting mat

Original image on Busch CD

Image corrected and adjusted

The images above show the image as "delivered" on the Busch background image cd and then after correction. I like to use Adobe's Photoshop for this, but other image editing programs will also be able to do this. Among the correctiont to the image are correcting the perspective, cropping, increasing the resolution to 600dpi, and resizing the image to the desired scale, in this case 1:87ish.

Print out as many copies as you think you need, then spray all with a UV-filtering fixative. 1 copy is then mounted on 2- or 4-ply mat board using a dry mount adhesive such as that made by 3M. Spray mount adhesive can also be used but I prefer not adding more fumes to my life than necessary. See "supplies" at bottom for more information.

Next mount 2 copies onto thin card. These will be used to bring forward the window details and hold the recessed windows. To make details jump out even further, use thicker card such as a 2-ply mat board. As always, experiment.

Sheets fanned out

Carefully cut out all windows on the piece mounted to the 2-ply mat board. Next cut out the whole window treatments and windows as well as other desired details from the sheet on the very thin card. Tone the edges down with a colored pencil or wait until the structure is completed and use powdered pigments. On the other sheet mounted to thin card roughly cut out the windows so that there is a border on all sides. In the example shown they can be cut out in pairs to reduce effort.

Window treatments and details cut out

Cut off the roof and cut out the area of the doors and steps. These will be set back further to indicate greater depth with a different paper used for the doors as all details were lost in the shadows.

Now we can begin mounting the window treatments and other details directly over image on the main façade. After that, mount the windows from behind making sure to position precisely.

Mounting treatments and details

To complete the sides and roof of this background model we’ll create brick walls using a brick pattern sheet that we’ll weather. The brickwork is from Scalescenes and can be ordered online and downloaded. The sidewalls are cut out of 4-ply matboard with slope towards the back for the roof. On larger models one will want to cut more pieces of the same size to provide greater stability and to keep the roof from sagging. As this is a background model, the back is irrelevant and can be left off or added from a scrap of matboard. Place the end walls on the brick pattern sheet and trim out leaving about 1/8th” or 2mm extending beyond the matboard along the edge facing out. This will be used to hide the edge of the façade. Glue the endpieces and interior braces into place ensuring that they are perpendicular to the façade.

Create steps leading back and then the “boxes” which will create the entryways out of pieces of matboard. The doors will be mounted to the back of the entry ways. It will help to color these before assembly.

Side walls and door from front

Rear view showing doors and bracing

Finally, attach the roof and add the chimneys. The latter can be made by gluing together pieces of mat board wrapped in (in this instance) with red brickwork and concrete patterns from Scalescenes. Angle the bottoma of the chimneys so that they sit vertically on the roof. Caps were made of thin black card with a hole cut in the center to give more depth. Finally, weather the model as appropriate or desired. Mine is set in an industrial locale, so I used lots of grimy black powdered pigments to simulate the soot...

Roof and chimneys

Detail of entrance

On the layout

Using the same basic image,replace the orange brickwork on the facade with darker red brick, or a stucco finish, such as those made by Scalescenes, but retain the architectural details. Combine elements from different images for completely scratchbuilt strictures. The same techniques can also be used for any other structures. The Bergbau-Grill and my new station were created the same way.

Don't be shy, experiment! This is a really great way to create unique structures for use on your layout.

Another Background Model - Almost a Building Flat

Was taking a break from working on a bookbinding commission and decided to see how a relief model of the backside of a structure would work. Again, image from the Busch CD. The model is way too small for H0 (didn't feel like scaling the image)but worked out quite well, and would feel right at home on an N layout.

Printed out several copies, mounting half to 1mm and half to 2mm board. The structure is 15mm behind the wall with the total depth being 30mm. Cut out overall image sans roof from 2mm board. Then cut the balconies and structural projection adjacent to the balcony from 1mm board. Color the edges and glue over overall image of structure.

Wall is likewise 1mm thick but should have made it thicker. Looks good until you view the image from above. Dormer window made from 3 pieces of 2mm board and angled at the base. Dormer roof and chimneys then stuck on roof.

Finish by adhering ivy made of fine turf to side of structure.

Total time for this experiment, 2.5 hours, but most of that spent thinking about things...

Click on images to enlarge.



  • 3M Mounting Adhesive: Available from Gaylord Brothers.
  • Matboard (2 and 4 ply) go to local framers and ask for scraps, or art supply stores
  • Folder stock: Filefolders or similar weight papers. Office and art supply stores.
  • Tools can be had from Micro-Mark and bookbinding suppliers such as Talas and Gaylord Brothers who can supply tools such as Teflon burnishers (bonefolders) in various sizes. These have the advantage of not marking the material when rubbing.
    • Folders and burnishers from Gaylord – Teflon or bone.
    • Folders and burnishers from TALAS – Teflon or bone


Peter's & Hope' s Märklin Trains © 1998 -
Peter D. Verheyen
Last Modified: Friday, 04-Oct-2013 19:01:31 EDT
URL: /eisenbahn/tutorial.shtml