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An easy Halloween project for your O gauge railroad

By Rene Schweitzer | October 16, 2022

Spruce up a holiday display item and add it to your layout

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Halloween scene on toy train layout

An easy Halloween project for your O gauge railroad is sprucing up a store-bought holiday item to add to your layout. With a few supplies, you can complete this project. It’s appropriate for all skill levels, too, so the kids can help!

While browsing the Halloween section at Menards, my husband found some fun décor with lights and motion. We set up a Halloween village every year, but I realized this piece could be useful for toy-train layouts too. It’s compact, battery powered (no wiring skills needed), and easily removed after the season.

Halloween scene on toy train layout
The finished piece on the layout. The LED lights change colors. Because it’s battery-operated, it’s easily moved or re-positioned. Photo by Rene Schweitzer

An easy Halloween project

You can easily use this technique on any holiday item including figures, detail pieces, and structures.

You’ll need a black permanent marker, a few colors of acrylic paints (green, yellow, black, white), a toothpick, and a few paint brushes. Optional supplies are a can of matte finishing spray (like Testor’s Dullcote) and masking tape.

Improving tombstones, background, and pumpkins

I started the project by using the marker to fill in the R.I.P. lettering and outline on the tombstone. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect; this tombstone is aging and a little defect only adds to the charm.

I filled in parts of the background designs, like the bats, and jack-o-lantern details (eyeballs and mouths) too. The center jack-o-lantern was missing a nose, so I added a triangle shape to fill in that area.

Painting cat eyes, a walkway, and tree bark

Now it’s time to open the paint. The ones I used are widely available at craft and big box stores and come in a variety of colors. I chose green to paint the cats’ eyes, but you may opt for yellow instead. Use a toothpick to apply a tiny amount of paint to each eye. If you don’t like the look, wipe it off with a baby wipe, let dry, and try again.

I painted the walkway using a paint brush and gray paint. I went back after the paint dried and added a wash using black paint diluted with water. The final effect looks quite nice.

The outside of this display piece is supposed to replicate tree bark. Using white paint and a paint brush, I drybrushed the outside to bring out the highlights of the “wood.” Cody Grivno shows more about how to drybrush in this video.

Final touches

This step is optional, but it’s easy and adds a nice finish. I covered the grain-of-wheat LED bulbs with tiny pieces of masking tape and sprayed the entire piece with Testor’s Dullcote to remove the shine. Let dry completely.

You could do even more with this piece if you choose, like adding bits of groundcover or a small stick tree. I considered adding glitter to the yellow moon. The only limit is your imagination.

Now comes the fun part—adding it to your layout or display! I’m displaying it on my husband’s Halloween-themed layout, which was featured on the cover of the October 2002 CTT.

An easy Halloween project involves this decoration with cats and pumpkins

The author bought this Halloween piece at a local Menards. Photo by Rene Schweitzer

An easy Halloween project involves this decoration with cats and pumpkins
paint brush, marker, acrylic paints
You’ll need just a few supplies to complete this project. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
paint brush, marker, acrylic paints
hand using marker to color on model tombstone
Use a permanent black marker to color in parts of the tombstone. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
hand using marker to color on model tombstone
hand using marker to color on background
Color in parts of the background scene as needed using the permanent marker. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
hand using marker to color on background
hand with toothpick painting cat eyes
 
hand with toothpick painting cat eyes
Halloween scene with road
This piece has a road toward the back—but it needed some improvement. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
Halloween scene with road
Halloween scene with gray road
The road after it’s been painted gray. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
Halloween scene with gray road
 Halloween scene with gray road
The road after adding a wash of diluted black paint. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
 Halloween scene with gray road
Halloween scene on toy train layout
 
Halloween scene on toy train layout
quick-and-easy Halloween scene on toy train layout
Because this is a small piece, it can fit in nearly anywhere on a layout. Photo by Rene Schweitzer
quick-and-easy Halloween scene on toy train layout
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