Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Modelling Old Walls

The technique I have used is not original but it is easy so worth mentioning again. I have used floral foam and carved the mortar joints between bricks with a pencil.


There are several makes of foam but I used the readily available Oasis. Bought in bulk it costs very little and weighs next to nothing. The normal block size is 23x11x8cm but there is a giant size if you need that.

Wedding anniversary present

The drawback of the foam is that it has no strength. You can crumble it to dust between your fingers with ease. If you are not careful just picking it up leaves finger shaped indents in the surface.

For that reason it is completely unsuitable for any area that will be handled or accidentally touched. However it is those same properties that make it ideal for old walls.


I used odd bits of board of various thicknesses as guides for the horizontal mortar joints. Just draw along using the timber like a ruler. Don't press too hard.

I used about an inch thick block of the foam cut using a long kitchen knife. Anything much thinner needs to be handled with care as it will snap easily. Buildings could be carved from a full block which would be less fragile.

The vertical mortar joints are hand drawn. The foam crumbles off in places which is what makes it look like an old wall. It would be much harder if you were trying to get modern even bricks and in my opinion another medium would be more suitable.


The carving will leave bits in the joints. I used a soft small brush to get as much out as possible but did not get too precious as it is intended to be an old weathered wall.

In an attempt to give it some strength I gave it a coating of diluted PVA glue as the primer. I am not sure if it did add any rigidity but it worked as a primer for the paint.


Painting is the same process as most scenic items. Start with a dark grey for the base layer including the mortar joints. I used a small flat brush to get in the joints.



For most things I'd add a few layers of ever lighter grey just to the surface. The upper layers being dry brushed on. In this case I liked the result after only one layer of lighter paint to the bricks.


I finished off with a black wash to weather it making sure lots got in the mortar joints.


It looks like an old wall but I repeat, it needs to be handled with care.


It's strong enough to survive in place on the layout but I would prefer if it did not need quite so much care when handling. The paint is the only thing that gives it the little durability that it has. If anyone knows a good mat lacquer that could be used to build up a strong coating please let me know.



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