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Clever Models Textures

Clever Models has set a new standard for detailed printed sheets that are both easy to use and affordable.

Clever Models Downloadable Texture Files for All Scales

by George Riley/photos by the author

The proliferation of personal computers and the internet over the last twenty years has made a number of profound changes in our lives and in many respects the way we pursue our hobby interests. It has never been easier to research our chosen interests, locate sources for our hobby products or interface with like minded individuals to exchange experiences and ideas. Now we are able to use our computers coupled with an ink jet or laser printer to instantly provide some of the raw materials and kits directly to our homes.

Clever Models is one of these leading edge companies that offers digital files for structures and rolling stock directly downloaded from the internet. In addition to kits, Clever has made available a full library of different textured printable files that are a real boon to scratchbuilders. Each file features exquisitely rendered graphics that easily fool the viewer into thinking that the flat sheets are three dimensional. Both the kits and the individual texture files will upgrade most modeler’s conception of the age old art of model building with card stock and paper.


These reasonably priced download files when printed out onto light weight card stock (67 lb. card) on a home color printer then sealed with a clear flat spray provide a realistic and durable material for constructing miniature models in any of the popular railroad scales. Superb models can be constructed using little more than a sharp hobby knife, steel straight edge, brayer and white glue. The addition of separately molded detail parts will only add further to the card model’s realism and credibility.


These positive attributes are readily displayed in the photographs of a recently constructed O Scale micro layout. The low profile engine house used two different "corrugated" sidings with "stone block" for the foundation. These were applied to update a well worn previously assembled die cut card Machine Shop kit offered in O scale by Pioneer Valley Models. Strip wood was added to reinforce the original card building before Grandt Line window and door casting were installed to complete the model.


Almost five feet of O scale retaining walls were constructed by applying trimmed sheets printed from an arched retaining wall file to a sealed piece of ½ inch by 5 inch poplar board. The glued sheets were rolled flat using a brayer to remove any air bubbles and insure a complete bond. Additional ‘metal’ fencing was added next to the engine house built from stained stripwood and pieces of left over corrugated siding. Once the card models were completed and blended in with some of the three dimensional details on the layout it was difficult to tell the printed models from the three dimensional ones.



Clever Models LLC
729 E. 163rd. Street
South Holland, Illinois 60473-2310

Downloadable texture files

N, HO, S, O
MSRP: $1.99 per file

Clever Models has set a new standard for detailed printed sheets that are both easy to use and affordable. They should go a long way in resurrecting how we view card model building and will hopefully entice some of us to try our hands at modeling using printed card stock.

The $5.00 Model

Using pre-printed textures to make realistic models on a budget

As a teen with out a lot of ready cash I would follow the "dollar model projects" in the various model railroading magazines with keen interest. Usually after a trip to the local hobby retailer for some strips of balsa and a tube of glue followed by a rummage through the household trash for some scraps of card board and perhaps a piece of clear plastic I was ready to give the latest magazine project a try. Some turned out really well, others exceeded my modeling skills. I enjoyed both my successes and failures while developing future model building abilities. Plus, even if the project didn’t turn out well I was only out a dollar. Over the years I still look back on these projects fondly while looking for similar ones to attempt. I do this not so much to save money by more as an exercise in using my imagination and developing creativity.

Let’s face it: a dollar just isn’t worth a dollar any more. It seems like in these current times that a five dollar bill barely has the same purchasing power that a single once had. As luck would have it I stumbled into an inexpensive project while working on reviewing Clever Models’ downloadable texture sheets. As I looked through the library of sheets on the website I came across a sheet labeled "O Scale Storage Tank." The sheet’s graphics looked interesting so I added it to my folder of downloaded files for future consideration and use.

One of the items that I needed for a steam locomotive servicing area was a water tank to feed the trackside water column. With little space available none of the available kits would fit so I would need to "design" a tank to fit the restricted area. In looking through my box of bits and pieces that nearly every modeler seems to keep I found a 9” section of a card board mailing tube that would fit the area and provide the armature for a reasonable vertical tank.


A scrap of card board from the drycleaner was trimmed to cap one end of the tube and glued in place. A roughly cut piece of tank sheet was glued to this cap. Once dry the sheet stock was trimmed flush with the tube’s walls. The tube was then wrapped with printed sheet that was first glued and then trimmed. An access door made from a ¾ inch square of card stock was added to the top and a strip of 1/16th inch florist wire was first painted flat black, then trimmed and bent before being attached to represent vent and fill pipes. When I get around to finding it I will probably add some Plastruct ladder stock to the tank.

Over all I am out less than five dollars and spent a relaxing couple of hours one evening building the model. Time well used and money well spent. – George Riley


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