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The three Ts. Lift the lid on the secrets of how you do things so others can have a go.....

Creating detailed street & road sections

Postby dkightley » Sat Nov 28, 2015 10:43 pm

As a follow-on from my tutorial thread on getting 1/450th scale prints from Google Earth ( ), I thought I'd do a tutorial on creating detailed street prints on thick paper that can be fixed onto your layout.

The basic method is to create a two-layer with everything printed on it, and a second layer with the pavements and surrounding grass, etc. When these two layers are glued together, you get a small relief of approx kerb height that adds to the overall effect. A few pictures to illustrate this...

Firstly, the whole ground area:
Img_2406_red.jpg (75.97 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

And the non-road surface bits:
Img_2407_red.jpg (78.01 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

And a close-up showing the relief when the two layers are glued together:
Img_2409_red.jpg (61.87 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

In the previous tutorial, I showed how to produce 96dpi images that can be printed off for planning building locations, etc. Let's take this to the next step. Here's the above ground section from my previously created ground me to have it upside down compared with the above photos!!:
Img_2404_red.jpg (87.84 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

To allow me to get a higher resolution result, I re-scaled to 300dpi by increasing the image by a factor of 312%, and changed the resolution to 300dpi for printing. I use PaintShopPro v7, which has the ability to have layers so you can build up the image bit by bit. Most decent editors have this facility..which is brilliant once you get used to it.

The first step is to add a blank layer on top of the background layer (which you use as a reference for drawing, etc) and draw the outline of the scenery section in a bright colour (eg yellow). Then, using the same method, create additional layers with outlines for the pavement, road surface, and drives & paths, all in different colours. You now have a series of building blocks.....I won't run through this in detail, but you end up with two final layers, one with all the grass, drives, pavements and road surface (including markings), and a second with everything but the road surface on.

Print each of the layers off and carefully cut out. I have the advantage of having a computer controlled paper cutter (Silhouette Cameo) which makes accurate cutting a breeze! Whatever way you use, you should end up with what you see in the above photos. Glue together (I use a gluestick) and then you'll need to protect the ink and paper from damage from water, etc. I use Halfords spray matt Lacquer which gives a very nice finish. I do one coat on the top:
Img_2410_red.jpg (64.3 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

And one coat on the underside:
Img_2411_red.jpg (68.48 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

Then finish off with a second coat on the top. Its difficult to show the finish in a photo....but its very good - and totally matt!

Once the lacquer has dried fully, the pieces can be fixed down on your layout. Photos of the above section will eventually appear in the Bridge thread.

And finally, my bonus tip.....

Doing small spray jobs in the house can leave the place smelling awful! The Halfords lacquer is particularly smelly..and really should be done outside. But its blooming cold out there at this time of year...and can be dark and wet, so I use a device I spotted on the interweb some time ago.

Before I show a photo or describe it....a warning YOU WILL NEED TO DO A RISK ASSESSMENT BEFORE USING ONE! I'm okay because I live alone!! If you're not so lucky, I am not responsible for what might happen!

Here we go.....a photo:
Img_2412_red.jpg (99.63 KiB) Viewed 3151 times

Basically, a cardboard box cut so as to form a spray booth that you sit on your cooker hob. With the over-hob fan switched onto fast extract, you can spray small items - and the overspray and fumes get sucked out of the kitchen.
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum
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Re: Creating detailed street & road sections

Postby dkightley » Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:38 pm

Just an update to reflect the way I've changed the method slightly to prevent issues with the paper layers coming unglued during the drying process after varnishing....

Rather than gluing the layers together before varnishing, I now spray varnish the separate parts before gluing them together. Once dried, I glue together using an aerosol spray mounting adhesive and then after the glue solvent has well and truly dissipated, I gently iron flat with a warm iron...putting the sections between clean paper sheets to prevent glossing, etc.
Doug Kightley
Webmaster here and volunteer at the National Tramway Museum
User avatar
Posts: 1194
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 9:43 pm
Location: Nottingham, UK

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