Populating Your Layout

Populating Your Layout

Want to bring your layout to life then you need to consider introducing that human element. Adding a loco crew is possibly the first step, and there are many models in all of the scales. You can get ready to plant models, but my enjoyment comes from painting and styling white metal cast figures.

Once you have your loco crews then it is a matter of time before you start introducing figures on to your station and then you start populating your carriages with passengers. The people can also add ballast to your rolling stock if you choose white metal figures, so they do have added benefits.

For the smaller scale the likes of Hornby, Bachmann and Dapol produce plastic figure models for their building ranges and they are very good indeed, some of the continental companies such as Preiser and Noch produce figures in a number of scales which can be adapted to the British scene.

There are several companies producing white metal and pewter cast figurines which can be made and painted into some very convincing models. Companies such as Mike Petts Supercast (00), Dart Castings Monty’s Models (0, 00), S&D Models Phoenix Range (0), Pete Goss Railway Modelling (0), Langley Models (0, 00), Omen Miniatures (0), Border Miniatures, P & L Casterways/(0), Aidan Campbell Miniatures(0), AC Stadden Miniatures, and for the larger scales there are Garden Railway Centres (G)


A group of figures from the S&D Phoenix range which I have just finished in Acrylic paints

As I said earlier my enjoyment is working with white metal figurines and when painted I tend to put them into cameo scenes rather than just place them singularly on the layout, they need to be in believable positions and then you can leave the rest to your own or the public’s imagination.

When working with white metal figures they usually are supplied with their arms and heads separate so that you can pose them yourself and with a little care you may even be able to move other parts of the body into the position you want. When working on them I mount them on a spike of wire which is inserted into one of the legs or base of the model. This has two functions, it allows you to hold the model when painting it and it gives you a fixing for placing it into your scenes. I tend to build up the model and then using the spike I place them into a block of wood or polystyrene, this allows you to spray on the primer and also work on the model.

One thing you need to consider when painting your figures is the period in which you are modelling. Up to around the 1960’s the colour palette would have quite subdued colours for the clothing, it was not until after then that more brighter colours started to emerge.

I tend to work in Acrylic paints which give you a smooth and Matt finish, I start by spraying the castings with a primer. Now there seems to be some conjecture as to what colour primer you should use. Some say white, some grey and some black, but I tend to use the standard Tamiyapaints primer which is a very pale grey. I tend to work on a group of figures, a kind of production line. Once the primer is dry I paint the flesh tones with Tamiyapaints No 78 which gives a good base colour.

It is surprising how by just adding the flesh colour brings the model to life. Carry on adding the rest of the colours you choose, but do not try to add detail at this stage, that can come later. When you have completed the group then you can start adding detail such as hair, beards, buttons, chains and other details. The final thing to do is to give your model a detailing wash of colour. I use a set of washes I bought from a Wargaming shop which gives you a range of colours. I then just add a wash of reddish brown over the flesh tones, the wash goes into the finer detail areas and just adds that finer detail when dry. To finish off you model seal in the colours with a spray of Matt varnish.

It is then down to personal choice how you want to pose your figures. In the adjoining gallery a some photographs of models my friend and myself have completed.