Free catalog at One way to save space and fit more into a model railroad layout is to reduce the size of the buildings and industries. However, to appear natural, the structures need to be to scale…unless they are deliberately made smaller to position at the rear of the layout so as to give the impression they are in the distance.
LOW RELIEF BUILDINGS or “FLATS” can achieve this objective without compromising the reality of a scene. They can be real space-savers, because they are thin and fit directly against a backdrop.
A low relief building will usually have just 3 sides and part of a roof showing, but when viewed front or side on, it will still give the illusion of a 3D building that stretches full depth.
FLATS is the term given to structures with just the frontage visible. They take up even less room, because just the frontage is glued onto the backdrop.
Both FLATS and LOW RELIEF BUILDINGS can be made from foam board, cor-flute, plywood, masonite, or cardboard. It’s just a case of gluing photo-realistic images to the surfaces to make them look real and really bring them to life!
Buildings of this type are a popular choice because they take up minimal layout space, but still give the illusion of a scene stretching into the distance.
Unlike plastic models; downloadable images and plans can easily be scaled on a home printer, and so can be reduced in size or duplicated by printing several copies if necessary.
I’ll show you some examples…
Having one or two reasonably large industries will usually look more realistic than several tiny factories or warehouses that are almost identical in size to the boxcars lined up out front.
Thinking back to my many, many visits to train shows; the layouts I found to be the most interesting and memorable were usually the ones that focused on realism and details and, of course, functionality. That’s why they stood out from the rest.
This FREE catalog has over 160 ideas for structures that’ll add realism to any layout. It is currently available for FREE from ModelBuildings.org Grab a copy… you’ll find it well worthwhile.