The Layout Design Primer is a collection of articles intended to assist the beginning to intermediate railroad modeler become familiar with today's layout design concepts and practices.
The layout designer must engage in a lot of "give and take" as a part of the layout design process, so personal preference plays a significant role. Be aware the Primer presents the opinions of the authors, and as such may sometimes present contrary views.
The articles in this Primer help further these important objectives of the LDSIG:
- Prevent beginners from making the most common mistakes in first layouts,
- Educate beginners about successful design alternatives for that first or second layout, and
- Present the Layout Design SIG as a key source of advanced design information for the model railroader.
"To design is to plan and organize to order and relate and to control. In short it embraces all means opposing disorder and accident. Therefore it signifies a human need and qualifies man's thinking and doing."
- Joseph Albers
NOTES TO AUTHORS AND POTENTIAL AUTHORS
Writers are still needed. Just pick an unassigned topic and e-mail to a member of the Editorial Board and you will be given that topic. See a topic that is missing? Same deal...e-mail to a member of the Editorial Board, and it will be added to the list. The editorial board emails are:
Want to know how to write your topic? It is up to you. See the following for inspiration:
Imagine that you're speaking with an intelligent friend who has expressed interest in your topic. Keeping in mind the questions they might ask, as well as the questions they wouldn't know to ask, identify and explain the major points of interest. Point out the logical connections among these points. Also, please cite a few references for further study, enlightenment, and fun.
The Layout Design Special Interest Group is affiliated with the National Model Railroad Association.
Primer Topic Areas
New content is added regularly, so please check back for additions frequently. All opinions are those of the indicated authors.
The why of building a model railroad layout
- Why do you want a layout?
- Why do layout planning?
- The layout design and planning process
- Using Givens and Druthers to guide the process
Types and styles of layouts
- Introduction to the wide variety of layouts possible
- Table top or island layouts
- Shelf layouts
- Multi-deck layouts
- Mushroom layouts
- Walkaround layouts
- Tiny Layouts
- Spaghetti Bowl Layouts
General layout planning principles
- Introduction to themes, eras, roles, intent, geographic location, etc.
- Why choosing a prototype is important
- How to plan ahead for operations
- Beyond the basement and what it does for you
- Moving freight
- Moving passengers
- Basic layout building blocks
- Design implications for different scales
- Drawing Your Layout - Manual and Software Solutions
- Common mistakes and oversights by beginning layout planners
Detail considerations for layout
- Track standards: switches, curvature, grades, etc.
- Yards--freight and passenger
- Auxiliary Yards
- Construction methods
- Staging track design
- Control systems
- Layout room preparation
- Ways of lighting your layout
- Layout appearance, fascia, valances, carpeting, etc.
- Scenery design, compression, and illusion
- Human factors, aisles, crew lounge, etc.
- Handicap accessibility criteria
- Pro and cons of the helix
- Backdrops and Backdrop Painting
Special layout circumstances
- Interconnecting modules, such as NTRAK
- Designing layout in sections for moving
- Considerations for large club layouts
- Designing a layout for photography
- Designing a layout for video
Layout design bibliography and references
- A useful bibliography for layout design
- Bibliography on operations
- List of Layout Design SIG publications
- Research resources - sources of maps, photos, historical sigs
- How to use the LDSIG Design Primer
- Glossary of layout design terms
Common Questions and Where to Find the Answers
- What command control system should I buy? See Control systems.
- What radius curves should I use? See Track standards: switches, curvature, grades, etc..
- What is the right height for each deck of a multi-deck layout? See Multi-deck layouts.
- What trains should I run, and what jobs should I provide for operators? See How to plan ahead for operations.
- What are the common pitfalls of the beginning layout planner? See Common mistakes and oversights by beginning layout planners.
- Which layout design computer software is useful? See Drawing Your Layout - Manual and Software Solutions.