How to Model Complex Trackwork using Foam

How to Model Tarmac around Complex Trackwork using Foam

This is probably the easiest method for modelling around complex trackwork. I have used card, styrene and just loose grout. This method is easy to cut and does not distort with damp like card (mine has swelled over the years causing clearance issues).

It’s simple because you can just press it down on the trackwork and then cut along the impressions. None of those nasty gaps left when you try and measure the uneven and irregular areas. Easy. It comes in grey, it’s easy to trim in situ if you need to with a sharp knife blade and it has a great texture – what’s not to love!

The only downsides are that it does dent easily and solvent based products will cause it to distort ruining all your hard work. That means you need water based glues, fillers and paint.

The “Real” World


  • Craft foam – check the size but mine is around 2mm thick from HobbyCraft. It comes in A3 and A4 sheets so you can avoid too many joints.
  • White Glue
  • Sharp knife (I use a #11 X-acto blade but any one will do). They do blunt relatively quickly especially if you are trimming in situ so be prepared to sway your blade is trimming is not going well. It’s also easier to trim if there is a paint layer on it.
  • Acrylic putty – I used Deluxe Materials.


  • 00:17 Real World
  • 00:50 Method
  • 11:25 Final Result
  • 12:08 Mini Kathys

All the scenery videos can be found by clicking here. If you are enjoying the series then please subscribe to my blog for the next weekly instalment:

4 thoughts on “How to Model Complex Trackwork using Foam”

  1. I have really enjoy tarmac series. Really enjoyed the latest installment with the foam sheets. Have been using it for roads on a project at our RR club layout. Now I hope you are going to do an installment on painting the foam surface. Haven’t tried that myself yet. Need ideas and encouragement. Thanks for all of your great DIY vids. Looked at Chincilla dust yesterday, seems pretty fine.

    1. Thanks Don

      So glad that you have found the videos useful. There’s another technique up next week then painting is up in a couple of weeks.



  2. Hi Kathy, This was my first time of watching your Tarmac or even use of Foam board. I found it great, you do a good job of detailing what to do and how you are doing it. I’m not a Train guy even though I started out as but more into equipment use on a Diorama scene. I had to retire early due to medical reasons from the fire service and was told to get a hobby. Never had one before so I dug out some old trains that my kids had and started messing with them then I found HO Fire Apparatus and OTR Trucks and Cat construction equipment and that was it. I still use Trains in my layout for the Industrial sites but I have more Fire Equipment than anything, as a Fire Chief 28 years Budget was a big thing so we went with out many times Now no worry, well other than my wife, I can add all the equipment I need or have. Your Videos are great at giving me How to get it done stuff so Thank You! The game thing I admit I was lost on what it was 🙂

    1. Hi Jerry

      I’m split between trains and dioramas. I like the fact that dioramas are done more quickly and so you can put more detail in. However trains move which is a great plus.

      As hobbies go, I love the variety and sheer different number of skills that you need. There’s always something new to learn.

      I bet as a Fire Chief you have a great eye for different dioramas.

      Thanks for getting in touch and I’m glad you enjoy the videos.


Comments are closed.