50 Ways to a Better-Looking Layout – Jeff Wilson

50 Ways to a Better-Looking Layout brings many new detailing projects from Jeff Wilson, plus favorites from the pages of Model Railroader, help you add the finishing touches to your layouts and create a higher level of interest and realism. Projects range from adding weeds to creating signs and billboards, and all can be completed easily in an evening or weekend. Key areas covered include structures, scenery, vehicles, locomotives and rolling stock, and more.

50 Ways to a Better-Looking Layout contains 50 detailing projects with step-by-step instructions. Simple to complex techniques cover all skill levels. Practical application, illustrations, and finished photos for each technique.


  • Convert a boxcar to a shed
  • Detail an industrial loading dock
  • Cardboard cases by the stack
  • Signs out of matchbooks
  • 3-D signs from stir sticks
  • Advertising sign decals
  • Give building a level base
  • Improve roofs on structures
  • Build cardstock structures
  • Impressionistic interiors
  • Scratchbuilt exhaust fans


  • Show vehicles turning
  • Detail sidewalk scenes
  • Roadway striping and weathering
  • Set an era with roadside billboards
  • Add locomotive cab crews
  • Paint your own figures
  • Place drivers in vehicles
  • Open truck doors
  • Upgrade a truck
  • Detail semitrailers
  • Apply license plates


  • Gravel road with grade crossing
  • Asphalt road with grade crossing
  • Paint and detail track
  • Build an operating derail
  • Detail a signal
  • Signs along the tracks
  • Model weed-grown track
  • Add junk between yard tracks


  • Use forced perspective
  • Weeds from fake fur
  • Make realistic trees
  • Plant a soybean field
  • Add cattails to a water scene
  • Build and install board fences
  • Rural wire fences
  • Chain link fences
  • Communication poles


  • Diesel number boards
  • Renumber locomotives and cars
  • Freight car markings
  • Chalk marks on freight cars
  • Galvanized boxcar roofs
  • Model an open boxcar
  • Weather models with chalk
  • Weather freight car trucks
  • Add rust with oil paint
  • Weather a flatcar deck
  • Realistic hopper loads

Jeff Wilson has written more than 20 books on railroads and model railroading. He spent 10 years as an associate editor at Model Railroader magazine, and he currently works as a freelance writer, editor, and photographer, contributing articles to Model Railroader and other magazines. He enjoys many facets of the hobby, especially building structures and detailing locomotives, as well as photographing both real and model railroads.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *