How to model roads

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jim s-w
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Joined: Wed Jul 30, 2008 5:56 pm

How to model roads

Postby jim s-w » Thu Dec 02, 2010 8:52 pm

Hi All

I hope people find this helpful but if anything isn't clear please ask away.


First up the basic structure. I thought long and hard about the camber of the roads but in then end decides to do them flat. The reason is partly ease but also looking at large vehicles they sit level on their suspension and to me a model leaning over doesn't look right.

The kerbstones are cut individually from 80thou square microstrip, the paving slabs are scribed onto plastic sheet. Don't forget things like dropped kerbs.


When ready spray everything with plasticote suede paint. This gives a texture to the surface. When dry spray everything black and then a light dusting of grey primer - you are aiming for a tarmac look to the paint - dont worry about the pavements for the moment.


Using thinned enamels block in the pavements - you can see how some of the pavement is tarmac.


When dry paint the road with neat thinners and then paint 'wear' onto the road. I use browns and blacks for the area where wheels go or not. Pay attention to how dust collects where vehicles dont go such as arround the pavements. Use the paint neat and using a large flat brush blend it into the wet thinners. You will see I have picked out some paving slabs with a lighter grey - For darker slabs the fastest way is to use grey markers.


Road markings are added using paint markers - I cut templates to help me keep them neat.

These will need a little more weathering to tone them down a little. Once dry spray everything with matt varnish

Its worth considering when your road is set as the time of the year affects the colouring - for example in the winter the roads look much whiter due to salt being spread on the road. In the autumn there are leaves in the guttering etc etc

Remember due to health and safety people are not asked to lift as large slabs as they were, modern paving slabs are much smaller than they were 20 years ago.

Not all roads are tarmac though

This is how I did concrete


First up paint the area to be concrete with PVA glue - allow it to dry for a bit. When it is dry enough to hold a shape use a nit comb (I had to buy one specially - honest!) to draw lines through the surface.


When set use the plasticote suede paint to give the texture - I needed my concrete browny grey but if you need it grey-grey overspray with primer. Once dry cut in panels with a scalpel and then weather as before. The black tar was added with a fineliner.

Finally, you need iron work! For this I did an etch based on photographs of real ironwork in the area - This is coloured with gun blue before gluing to the surface


A few picture of the finished roads including an extreme close up which is ©Tim Maddocks and reproduced here with permission



Finally - the lines are done using paint markers




Re: How to model roads

Postby simonmoore » Fri Dec 03, 2010 6:54 am

Although i've never asked the question it's been one of those things that i would have needed to ask regarding the way roads are painted up. Thats a very helpful mini tutorial Jim thanks for sharing. When you first look at something like this it can be scary especially when you are aiming for a high level of detail. I think the way you explain things in a smallish thread like this is brilliant & i think that even the raw beginner would be able to follow this & get a good level of detail from there own work.
I think Jim you should be going down the modeling book path at some stage because i think the way you explain things with clear pictures is excellent & easy to follow :D


Richard Harper
Posts: 15
Joined: Tue Dec 02, 2008 1:17 pm

Re: How to model roads

Postby Richard Harper » Fri Dec 03, 2010 1:57 pm

Thank you very much indeed. Most helpful. I have not hear of plasticote suede paint before - presumably this is obtainable at the likes of B&Q. It provides a most realistic texture.


Re: How to model roads

Postby Richard.Ough » Fri Dec 03, 2010 2:53 pm

Not so much how to model roads but an observation on colouring of the road surface.

In Chris Challis's article in SN170 the first photo clearly shows the road surface as being darker where the vehicle tyres 'run', with a lighter band in the centre of the lane where tyre contact is less frequent.

However, when I am out and about, (As a Driving instructor), I frequently use this 'strip' as a reference point for pupils to position the car correctly in lane............But invariable the strip is not lighter than the 'tyre runs', but darker!

I suspect it is to do with the angle at which I'm looking at the road, but it does raise an interesting quandry about detailing the road surfaces on your railway.

I suppose it depends whether you have an 'eye level' line, in which case the drivers eye view is probably the better option.
Should you have a panoramic view such as the photos in SN170, then I we need to reverse the colours.

Am I being pedantic, going mad, or both?



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