Create A Unique Model Railway Backscene

Create A Unique Model Railway Backscene

Backscenes can make or break a layout. Fortunately, there is an abundance of pre-printed backscenes to choose from. Whether you prefer rural and countryside settings, modern industrial areas, coastal regions, or mountains, pretty much everything is covered. However, if you desire something a bit more unique, our Backscene Elements range is the perfect solution for you.

Mike Peters

What are Backscene Elements?

Backscene elements are essentially individual buildings and architectural features that can be used to create a unique backdrop for your model railway layout or diorama. These elements consist of individual buildings and architectural features, which are printed on 100gsm matte paper. With them being only the thickness of the paper they're printed on, they offer the ultimate space-saving solution. Backscene elements are the ultimate space saver when you have limited space on your layout!

How do I use the Backscene Elements?

To use them, simply cut out the backscene element from the sheet. Apply glue to the non-printed side. Recommended glues include UHU, Pritt Stick (Glue Stick), Spray Mount, or Deluxe Materials View Glue (specially formulated for fixing backscenes). Place the glued backscene element onto a grey or sky blue painted backboard, or overlay them onto an existing printed back scene to create the illusion of larger buildings in the foreground.

Forced perspective

To create the illusion of distance & a building being further back than it actually is, we can use the modelling technique called 'Forced Perspective'. The photo below showcases this effect. There are a few methods to achieve this.

The first method involves incorporating a smaller-scale backscene element. In the example photo, the factory building is in OO scale, while the highlighted section is an N scale backscene element. This smaller element is positioned so that it's slightly overlapped by the OO scale backscene element. It seamlessly blends in by adding walls, trees, bushes, and hedges along the lower front of the N scale backscene element.

Again, in the photo below, you can see how the wall and another building have been cleverly used to camouflage and integrate the N scale back scene element with its larger OO scale counterpart.

The second method is to use OO scale backscene elements for both the front and rear buildings. The buildings located at the rear within the highlighted orange box, are cut down which reduces the height of the backscene element. Then, glue it into place before proceeding to glue and fit the full-height backscene elements over the reduced-height buildings. To further enhance the overall appearance, add walls, trees, bushes, and hedges along the lower front of the rear building. This will effectively disguise and blend it seamlessly into the scene.

Mike Peters

Add a little depth

To enhance  & add a little extra depth, to the background scene, mount the elements on card like greyboard, plywood, hardboard, or balsawood. Glue the mounted background scene onto the rear back scene to create a subtle elevation and add depth to the scene. The image below illustrates this technique, with the areas between the orange lines highlighting the use of boards to raise the elements from the rear back scene.

Mike Peters


The back scene elements can be further enhanced by adding more details and using them in scratch building. In the photos above, extra detailing kits such as industrial roof vents, industrial wall ladders, and fire escapes have been added. Scratch-building/kit-bashing elements seen in the photos above include the addition of pedestrian doors and a larger wooden loading bay door, a boiler house, and tall brick chimneys. The addition of a platform installed in front of the back scene element building instantly gives the scene a loading dock for railway wagons.

Mix it up

For street scenes, using various back scene elements creates a realistic-looking urban scene. In the scene below, there is a mix of terrace houses and several shops, including a butcher and a grocer shop. The row then finishes with old railway warehouse-type buildings. The mix of heights of the buildings, just like the real thing, adds further realism.

It's also worth noting, again, the use of forced perspective. Notice the retaining wall at the rear; it sits only a short distance in front of the back scene elements.

Marshalls Parcels

In the next example below, the back-scene elements have been combined with other printed images. This example shows a street scene running off into the distance. This tricks the viewer into thinking that the layout is bigger than it actually is. The image containing the street has been carefully sized and printed to match the height of the back scene elements. Notice how the back scene element on the right & left of the street, blends in seamlessly with the row of houses in the street scene. The roof on the house on the right-hand side of the street has been cut at an angle to represent the slope of a pitched roof. 

A further observation of this scene reveals that the background changes angle and runs over the railway below. The change of angle has been carefully done on the street view section. The area to the left behind the background scene contains a hidden fiddle yard.

Marshalls Parcels

For roads that run up an incline, the back scene elements can easily be adapted to suit. In the image below, each terrace house has been cut into an individual house. They have been glued onto the background in a step-up configuration. The sloped retaining wall has been glued and fitted onto the background, overlaying the front of the terraced house elements.

Robert Clarke

In Conclusion

If space is limited on your layout or diorama, the backscene elements are the perfect space-saving items. They can be easily customised to create bespoke buildings and scenes. Add a little extra relief to them by mounting them onto a board or greyboard card. Add extra details with the addition of detailing kits.

What Back Scene Elements Do You have available?

OO Scale

N Scale

I Need Glue… What Have You Got

Happy Modelling

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Just what I needed. I have a number of places that need space saving backscene additions. Thank you for your time and effort.