How to make custom card buildings


We had a spare piece of land on a layout and had always planned to build on this area to bring the station within the town, but hadn’t finalised any ideas.

The internet and reference books can be very useful when designing buildings for a specific era to get a feel for the way they were built at that time. Have a look at some old buildings and you will be amazed at the different sizes, shapes and designs of architectural features found sometimes on the same building! This gave us a starting point and from that, the building of a Britannia Boot and Shoe company factory started.

The finished models were completed with a few coats of matt UV varnish to protect them – card buildings are easily damaged when handled by damp hands.

Chimney stacks are another area of interest. These could vary and were often left to the bricklayer to decide - there was no such thing as planning permission. One thing that needs to be considered is the size of the stack. You must take into consideration the number of flues required. As a basic rule of thumb, the flue would be 225mm square internally, and the sides 112mm, but this will vary depending on the height and size of the chimney stack involved. As a general rule of thumb, stick to this and, when building a standard-sized chimney, they won’t look wrong.

 

1

Spend a few minutes with the instructions, working out which parts on the plastic sprues are for each model. Most pieces for the platelayers’ hut are grouped together, but the roof is with components for other models. The diagram supplied is worth studying to get a feel for how the building goes together, it's not complicated, but you don't want to be trying to work things out once you've opened the glue.
How to make custom card buildings

2

It’s a good idea prior to cutting to have windows and doors to hand so they can be cross-checked with the drawing on the card to ensure the openings are to the correct size before starting to cut. Allow a fraction larger - we allow 0.5mm in each direction for the brick paper/glue thickness.
How to make custom card buildings

3

Shade the areas you wish to cut out because when you lay the rule on the card to start it is very easy to cover up where the cut is to be, and then use the wrong line.
How to make custom card buildings

4

A further tip is to try to cut on the waste side of the model using a steel rule as a cutting guide, if you slip and cut the wrong area it doesn’t mean going back to the beginning and starting again.
How to make custom card buildings

5

Cut out the openings first because the card retains strength, especially if one of the openings is near an edge of the building. The thinner the card, the more likely it will distort or break. Card blunts blade edges quickly, so the blades must be changed regularly.
How to make custom card buildings

6

With the building pieces cut, consider the application of the wall finishes. One of these buildings will have brickwork, the other a rendered finish. Keep all the off-cuts because they are useful as strengthening pieces or braces for the corners.
How to make custom card buildings

7

The brick paper used is Victorian Brick, from ScaleModelScenery. 
How to make custom card buildings

8

We have always found it easier to apply brick papers to the individual wall sections before constructing the buildings. When dressing brick papers around the reveals of openings, have the wall flat on the working board and commence with these elevations first.
How to make custom card buildings

9

To apply the papers, use a PVA adhesive, a flat brush to apply the glue and a steam roller to ensure all the air bubbles had been removed, allowing the paper to dry flat. When applying the brick papers make sure you have allowed enough for the next piece that folds around the corner.
How to make custom card buildings

10

On the reverse side of the walls, scribe along the fold line of the reveal from one side to the other, using a pin vice with a blunt needle, then cut the brick paper in the centre of the opening.
How to make custom card buildings

11

Using a rapid set card glue, like Deluxe Materials Roket, fold the paper into the reveal and press the sides into the card edge.
How to make custom card buildings

12

The end wall with a chimney was fitted and corner braces glued to support the wall to ensure it was square. When ready, score along the wall edge where the paper would fold, apply the glue and fold the paper over, pressing down hard to fix in place.
How to make custom card buildings

13

Setting it aside and weighing it down for a few hours allowed time for the glue to set. Food cans are useful!
How to make custom card buildings

14

It’s best to place exposed edges on the reverse side of the model where they can’t be seen. We used a brown felt-tipped pen to conceal these.
How to make custom card buildings

15

For the rendered building, the walls of the shop were laid out and background pieces of the approximate thickness of the render were glued to the top and bottom of the openings for lintels or sills.
How to make custom card buildings

16

I required the render to run around the corners. Unlike the previous brick building, this one was constructed first before applying the finish. It gave the corners a slight curved effect that I was after.
How to make custom card buildings

17

There are many pre-printed render papers, but these were too smooth. I used building sand that has been allowed to dry, then sieved to remove larger bits. The bits left from sieving were useful for the edges of paths, road or yards where the surface hasn’t been flattened by traffic.
How to make custom card buildings

18

A layer of glue was applied to the wall areas and sand was sprinkled over, including around the corners, making sure we didn’t overlap with the previous application. If sand ends up on the background pieces of card, remove them while still wet as they can be easily scraped off.
How to make custom card buildings

19

Once dry, apply two coats of cream paint on the walls to seal and colour these. Use a slightly stiff brush to apply the paint in vertical stokes from top to bottom as this gives an uneven finish. The infill building section linking the two previously detailed builds were made, using the same techniques.
How to make custom card buildings

20

The windows were from the LCut range and were painted before installation. Each window was cut out and carefully fixed to a piece of mottled black card. I rarely model building interiors because they are largely hidden when no lights are on.
How to make custom card buildings

21

When the window was fixed in place, the sill detail was cut from the waste sections of the LCut fret and fitted to complete the installation.
How to make custom card buildings

22

The office doors were constructed the same way, but in addition the black sheet was glued to a piece of 2mm greyboard to stiffen the construction.
How to make custom card buildings

23

To construct the industrial double doors, I scribed plank details on the greyboard first, then built the surrounding framework. The door handles were cut from spare LCut windows.
How to make custom card buildings

24

A sub-roof of 2mm greyboard was installed. This strengthened the model when handling and acted as a soffit, fascia and bargeboards when painted. Prior to gluing, the undersides and leading edges of the sub-roof were painted the required colour because it was easier at this stage.
How to make custom card buildings

25

We painted the roof slopes in slate grey emulsion to make them stand out when checking alignment and design. The brass door handle and letterbox came from the Scalelink (SLF133) Door Furniture fret.
How to make custom card buildings

26

The corbelled effect was made from layers of thin card, cut to the required brick course size and glued over the brick paper. Four lengths of brick paper to suit four courses were added, the edges were coloured brown, then glued to the card ensuring it is square.
How to make custom card buildings

27

Card templates cut to fit the roof slope were useful. It made cutting the slates easier, rather than throwing away a piece of Wills sheet because it wasn’t cut correctly.
How to make custom card buildings

28

We cut the Wills roofing sheet with a strong craft knife, trimmed it ready and offered it up to check alignment before fixing. To improve the appearance, file the sides to give the visual appearance of stepped tiles down the slope. A simple task, but visually-effective.
How to make custom card buildings

29

When happy with the fit, glue the tile sheets in place using Roket Card Glue. This dormer window was a clad inscribed card. Its card roof had micro rod glued every 1cm to represent a lead-covered surface.
How to make custom card buildings

30

To represent lead work, we used Vallejo Gunmetal Grey with a little White added ad hoc, to give an uneven colour. This was followed by Lifecolor Roof Dirt, painted down the joints and finished with a thin wash of the same colour to age. The chimney pots were from various sources – Dart Castings, Wills building pack A, and Langley Models. These were painted in Lifecolor Old Brick with a wash of Vallejo Black Grey to weather.
How to make custom card buildings

31

The slate roof received a coat of Slate Grey acrylic paint. Using a mixing tray and the same Slate Grey as a base, various darker and lighter shades of grey from Vallejo were added and individual tiles painted a random pattern. When dry, Lifecolor Roof Dirt was applied and left to run over the tiles into the tile joints.
How to make custom card buildings

32

To construct the shop front, we used items from the LCut range. Though we don’t normally model building interiors, in this case the result looked better with the addition. We used the greyboard as a base to strengthen the framework.
How to make custom card buildings

33

A few coats of Vallejo Olive Green were used to represent the company colours, and the finished frame installed into the wall opening. The shop front facade was built using greyboard, microstrip and thin card.
How to make custom card buildings

34

The plain tile roof was painted with Vallejo Basic Brown, then a mixture of Vallejo Black and Beige Brown was mixed to the Basic Brown. The colour varied with each application and individual tiles were painted random colours to give tonal variance. To further enhance the appearance, Lifecolor Old Tile was painted on selected tiles and leading edges to represent clean tiles.
How to make custom card buildings

35

We used guttering from Wills Building Pack A. Each elevation of guttering was cut to length with the cast brackets trimmed and varied in spacings to suit the length required.
How to make custom card buildings

So there you have it - building is complete!

How to make custom card buildings

Want some houses to complete your scene? Our guide on how to build and detail a card kit is worth a read. Or if you’re interested in building some roads and pavements, our handy guide is filled with tips and advice.

For more help and tips for adding grass to your model railway - watch our video on how to create realistic scenery using static grass here. 

And what about trees? Our online guide will help you get to grips with ‘planting’ trees on your model railway. 

Need more advice? Take a look at the BRM Techniques page for all our latest guides and advice articles.