This is how to make a small, easy and relatively inexpensive N scale layout. It fits on a small coffee table.
A guy from church accidentally ordered some N scale passenger cars which he passed on to me.
I had an old N scale layout which I did not really like so I removed it from it's plywood base and started over. Here is what I did.
Step 1: Foam Geography
To start you will need a 24 inch circle of plywood and some sheet insulation foam. I used 3/4 inch, but if you want a deeper layout you can get 2 inch thick.
I used Unitrack because it is easy and the layout doesn't need to be as flat. The 8 1/2 inch pieces make the smallest curve.
The insulation foam is easily cut with a serrated knife.
Layout the houses and pencil in the river. I carved layers of the foam for hills and gauged out the pond and stream. I glued the hill to the base, using white glue. Do not use epoxy, it will eat right through the foam. I sanded the edges.
The houses were printed on postcard sized card stock, made by Fiddlers Green. They were not very expensive.
Step 2: Paint and Grass
Paint the pink foam with a nice earthtone. I painted the water blue, which was maybe not really natural looking, but I wanted to make the ideal village. Use water based paints. Never use spray paints, they melt the foam.
Sponge on some different shades of Green and let it dry.
Try out the houses so that you will know where to put the grass and shrubs.
Mix white glue 1/2 and 1/2 with water, and brush it on to the layout. Sprinkle grass on the wet glue and blow off the excess. Glue on the coarser greenery.
Step 3: Water, Trees, and People
The water was layers and layers of Polycrylic.
I bought a set of little trees. They can be made, but they are a little fiddly.
I seem to have lots of people to populate my village. I especially like the ladies hanging out their laundry and the campers. I also have a bag of sheep.