Trackside seems dull (ideas requested)


New member
I've recently begun a new route, which is mainly for iportal use, and general shunting work. I plan for it to range between 20-30KM of track when it's done, but I've run into a little delema. I've put down about 4.5KM of the track so far, but the area beside it is seeming dull/unatractive.
The following are 2 pictures of different area along the line currently laid down. (Sorry for the large pic size, MSpaint for the win)
First area, as you can see is rather dull when it comes to detail beside the track. That is a reoccuring scene throughout the route, as it is mostly situated running through thick forest, or area like you see above. I want to improve on what I've got there now, and make it nicer along the side.
A second shot, near a siding area (as you can see the track rejoining), isn't as much of an issue, but still doesn't look all THAT great in my opinion. (<3 test engine)
Being kind of new to the whole surveyor deal, I'm ok with laying track, and random stuff, but when it comes to the nice details on the sides, thats were I'm no good with :(
What i'm looking for is input/ideas from people who have been around for a wile, and have more experience in route making.

Thanks alot in advance :)

(Credit to Phill_C for the awsome engine)
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I'm no expert on modelling but as an ex-engineer I can make two suggestions.

Mix your texture colours up a bit. The colour you've chosen is good but far too uniform. Add some darker shades and try to get them patchy. Your track bed looks far too clean and tidy. It's usually quite mossy and gunky. Dirty it up a bit. There are also a number of very good lifelike grasses that can be placed quite close to the track. Frequently ditches line both sides of the track and these have stagnant water and bushes associated with them.

The other thing is that there is usually heaps of "clutter" around the permanent way. There are plenty of small lineside huts (rusty abandonned ones too), small electrical relay boxes for signals, old sleepers (ties), rails, and even complete bits of removed track lying around. You could even put down the odd rusty hulk of a car! You might even find a wrecked railway wagon left after a derailment. This can be done by using invisible track and placing the wagon on that.

If you can find a book with lots of nice photos that include a generous look at the lineside as well as the trains you might get some more ideas of what you'd find there.


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I'd say get rid of some trees. Forests tend to be patchy, with small open areas and meadows. A river or two to cross might also be nice, or running alongside the river for a stretch.
Also add some different color trees. If those are all Jankvis trees, try adding some Dmdrake (kuid 33404:) trees for variety. Not so much spread throughout the layout, but in clusters where you need emphasis.
The track work looks really good. It looks like it'll be a good layout.

:cool: Claude
I run into this,i find myself creating monotonous(for those without the vocabulary this word mean long,boring......same tone) routes that run along trees that are jam packed together and all look the same.
Thanks alot for the input so far :)

I've already got a river running along the side of the track (or within 75m from time to time), and it shifts sids atleast 3 times, with a few run offs into nowere. I'll definetly reduce the trees, and i'll do some variety in texture. I was also thinking on adding in some low poly grass along the side to give the terrain a little bit of definition, instead of being flat for 5KM
Just had to throw my 2 cents in here and say it all looks pretty good to me. It appears that the MOW equipment has just done their jobs. I would keep the 'new' polished look just as it is in town but use the other suggested ideas away from town closer to and into the countryside.:)
I agree, I think it looks appealing as is. Something I would enjoy driving on and easy on the Framerate.

For some suggestions...

powerlines, fences, people, parked cars, other trees, siding boxes, small huts, UFO landing sites, advertising signs, signals, speed signs, crossings, bridges- over and under, crossovers, animals, farms, birds, abandonded junk, crashed helicopter, boxcars on sidings, different textures, fire, workers, old station, houses, MOW equipment, excavators, construction sites, grass

should I go on?
Some bumps in the terrain can really add some character. :)

Maybe add a little veggie? (but not too much to kill lower end machines)

I create a fair few routes that are on the DS and am well aware of the difficulties faced when trying to make the lineside look 'interesting'.

Have a look at one or two of my routes (search on my name angelah) and that may give you some ideas, albeit that they are UK orientated.

The other things is the frame rate. This can be checked as you create by running FRAPS in the background and you will be able to keep a check on how assets are effecting the speed the route will run at.

My routes tend to be highly detailed, but as has been said, there is often grass alongside the tracks and this would help break up that plain look.
And also as has been said, some lines may be well maintained and very clear of vegetation... In the end the choice is yours.

Trees are not normally completely continuous like that, they do have breaks even in forested areas, so a bit of fencing or just a gap here and there will also help the appearance.
Lineside huts would be set along the way at various intervals and there would be clutter like and odd section of rail or sleepers, an oil drum or two and a rubbish pile.

I mix and match textures a lot and this does help diguise that plain look too. Practice a little on a single board (don't want to mess up that nice route) until you feel happy with it. For instance select a light green and lightly 'brush' that over here and there. This will give the appearance of grass without you actually having to put an asset in and so spoil your frame rate. I use that effect a lot in goods yards over cobbles are other types of brick textures.

Hope that will help.

ive always tried to go for stone walls... barbed wire... walkways small crossings etc etc. Embankments and small bridges can help to.

One thing Ive found good on my UK routes..
when building a level crossing (new or old) put a sections of rusty track with a catch piont or something next to the mainline, add buildings or abandoned structures.

my 2 pence worth :)
I would agree with Tokkyu40. I'm really fussy when it comes to choosing a route with realistic detail. I would mix up the trees - too many trees of the same size and color. Try for different trees and different colors.

The best ideas can come from taking a look at the routes that I enjoy running - Rooneth's Reading and Northern, and Mcguirel's Ohio Central - A Buckeye Route. Both are creative, imaginative and realistic.

You have a nice route there. A little diversity in the trees, some clutter and grass by the tracks, some open spaces and some rolling hills would make it a winner.
Grass Grass Grass.
once you decide to add the items mentioned above, then you oughta add grass into the mix. If you add a blend of grasses around the equipment(signals, signal Boxes etc.) it will bring the life out in your route. If you are also to do a spur of somesort, be sure to drabble grass on it, to make it look not-used.
always works.
(hint: look in the USA pics thread in screenshots to get some ideas, it helps alot!)
But only a little grass. Add it where it provides interest, but watch your frame rates. I always over detail my routes, and I sometimes have trouble running them.

:cool: Claude
More trackside grass, and never use tree splines, use individual trees. That adds a more realistic effect. Add some hills in the background so everything doesn't look so flat. If you want the track to look more unmaintained add lots of spline points and make each one a different height.
My two pence worth

I agree with all the others and would like to add an additional distraction. Trainspotters. a couple of anoraks standing alongside the track, at junctions, looking out from bridges, anywhere there's a path they can see and photograph trains is generally a good place. Of course this may only be a british thing but it's worth considering.:)
I"d say that you need to narrow the ballast the track is resting on.On real railways ballast is hugely expensive so its used as sparingly as possible.As a previous poster said replace the tree splines with Solid trees - make a section of forest then copy and paste it.Use as much JVC vegetation as you PC can handle , but keep an eye on your Frame Rates.Lastly, and most importantly, have a close look at your local railway and take lots of photos.If you see something interesting copy it onto your sim.
Although our routes tend to be much longer, the layouts in the model railway press can give inspiration for little details that bring the project to life. The police car and stopped motorist would make a good diorama. Try putting some hikers in your woods (not au-natural though :eek: ) or some occasional animals. Add some crash barriers or guard rails to your roads.

And just to concur with what everyone else has said - JVC...JVC...JVC...
Just another couple of things - you can make the telegraph poles more realistic by putting a clump of grass round the base of each one.Also, real Power Lines normally cross railways at 90 degrees even if they run alongside to cut down the obvious risk of the wires falling and also interference with signalling circuits and radio equipment.
And if your terrain allows it, how about a waterfall or two. I just found the selection on the DLS and while it takes a bit of fiddling with the terrain to get it working right the effect is excellent!