Simple Skyscraper Scratchbuild Concept (Part 1)

As much as I wanted to move onto the layout and be done with buildings(!), I was distracted by this idea I had for creating skyscrapers or high rises using relatively simple and inexpensive materials.

The idea I've been itching to try for some time was the idea of printing a simple pattern onto regular printer paper, cutting out the window areas, and then coating the paper with spray paint.  I'm not quite sure how this will turn out, but wanted to share the idea and my progress.

First, I created a grid of windows and wall surfaces on a computer (any program that allows you to create rectangles will work!) and then printed this out on 11" x 17" sized paper.
With my 'template' done, I then went about the tedious task of carefully cutting out the window areas.  This was more tedious than I thought, and my original concept of doing many individual window openings ended up as a shortcut.   I'm trying to prove the concept more than anything, and an easy solution to this may be the use of styrene (or paper?) vertical strips when the model is finished.
After cutting out all the openings, I then proceeded to paint....about 3 coats of black paint on the inside surface, and then another 3 on the outside surface.  I used a light brown spray paint from the hardware store for the exterior coat.  I was also careful to try and keep the paper from resting flat on the surface as I was afraid once it dried, it may dry and tear the paper when I tried to lift if off.
For the actual structure, I noticed some clear acrylic baseball display cases at a store that seemed about the right dimensions to make for a decent superstructure for a skyscraper, and would be another nice shortcut!  I used hotglue and some plastic cement to glue them together.
After both sides of the paper were painted, they were carefully folded along the edges to fit to my 'baseball display' structure:
The next step is to spray the inside with spray adhesive and attach to the acrylic 'cubes'.  Then I'll add trim, interior floors, lighting, details, and other stuff and see where this little project takes me!  The paper takes on a very soft 'acrylic' feel to it after all the paint has dried.  My biggest concern now is how flat I can get the paper to adhere to the plastic!

I'm also working on a similar version of this, a different window style and pattern, to see how diverse this approach can get.  This one is actually printed on normal 8.5" x 11" sheets.  I'll provide updates as I make progress!


  1. I've been following your blog some time now and I wanted to say it's given me inspiration to continue working on mine. Keep up the great work and please post more videos! I love your TGV.

    Have you considered taking clear styrene and applying an adhesive mask to it? We used to do this in art class when we wanted to do some airbrushing on our drawings. Using an exacto knife, you can peel away the mask where you want to paint. Cut, peel, spray, dry and peel. What you have left is a building wall painted to your color with clear windows. It's just a thought.

    Instead of the sheets of adhesive mask, you could mask using the aerosol spray type. They use this stuff for painting RC car bodies. I haven't tried this aerosol spray myself, but some of the guys in the rc car club have used this.

    The clear styrene will have better stability than paper.

    The only drawback is this won't be suitable if you want recessed windows. But it might be adequate for buildings way in the back where the detail can't be scrutinized to closely.

    Having seen your work, I'm trying my hand at building my own rural railway station.

  2. Hi Train Spotter! Thanks for your comment! I tried a similar approach to what your describing (I think) with my "2nd Skyscraper Scratchbuild" (the Sony building)) in which I masked out the windows on clear acrylic and sprayed the 'surface' areas with spray paint. I'm not sure I understand everything you're saying about the aerosol's....I see all sorts of RC stuff at hobby shops so I'll look into it and see how it works! I always love new ideas! Thanks again!

  3. Hi Jerry,

    About the aerosol. The RC guys prefer this over masking tape. When it dries, you can peel it off. Using an exacto knife they peel away certain parts to expose for painting. That's how they apply multiple colors to their car bodies. It's probably overkill for model trains.

  4. Hello Jerry ,

    Very beautifull work , it's note my favorite era but looks great !!


  5. Hi Pascal! Thanks for the compliment!