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Choosing the Right Materials to Build Your Models with Model Builder


One of the most important decisions you will need to make once you have chosen to use Model Builder's great software package is what materials you are going to use. Using the best materials will result in a much stronger and better looking building that is sure to enhance your model railroad and withstand the tests of time.

Choosing your paper:

Since all of the projects created with Model Builder are created using a computer and printer, the first material we need to look at is paper. There are a lot of different types of printer paper on the market these days and it can get a little confusing. For this type if project you will need to choose a good quality matte finish photographic paper.
The reason for using photographic paper is that it is designed to reproduce pictures. It will render your print outs in a lot more detail. This is exactly what is needed when you are trying to reproduce the side of a house brick by brick with all of the subtle differences in shades in brick color.
The matte finish is used because most buildings are not shiny and glossy so using a glossy paper would ruin the natural look. You can of course use a glossy paper as an overlay for things like windows or signs that you cut out and apply separately; this would give them a nicely realistic effect.
You will of course also need regular printer paper to print out your building's line drawing as a pattern for your sub-structure.
One last tip on paper, try several different brands to find out which one produces the best results, all papers are not created equal and some may not produce a realistic result.

Backing materials:

While using the right paper will result in a very nice looking exterior, just like a real building you need a good foundation to build on. To give your new building a good strong foundation you have a choice, you can go to your local craft store and buy some heavy gauge cardstock such as .02 or .03 inch or you can use the box your cereal came in.
Another possibility would be to use thin Styrofoam, it is very easy to work with and retains its shape very well, this would be a good option if you were planning to do some customization to your model that involved adding extra weight such as adding real wood framing to the windows or perhaps making a large structure such as a high rise building.
The one thing you should be aware of though if you are planning to use a thicker material is that you will need to paint or cover the edges so that they blend in with the design. Nothing could ruin your beautiful new building more than having white Styrofoam edges showing or the edge of the cardboard peeking out.

Getting the Right Glue to stick it All Together:

You will need to use glue not only to assemble your model, but also to attach the printed image that makes your new model complete to the cardboard. Our personal choice for this is a simple tacky type of glue that bonds quickly and sets up in a few minutes. This type of glue will give you a little bit of time to adjust things before it dries but will help hold them in places until it is dry, alleviating the need for clamps.

Using Pastels to Cover Up:

Once your new model is all together and dry you are going to see some places at the corners where the paper's edges show, this is normal. The best way to cover this up is with a pastel chalk, these are available in a large variety of colors so matching your color scheme should not be hard.
You can also use a pastel chalk to cover over the edges of the cardboard or Styrofoam edges if they show and they are fantastic as a way to weather your new model to make it fit right in with your town.
One final word of advice, once you have finished your new model building and are satisfied with it you need to seal it. Krylon makes a matte overspray that will seal in your pastel chalk work and will protect your image from fading due to UV light.

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