What is the best thing you can do for your model railway scenery? My answer is: Paint your rails.
I see lots of layouts with stunning scenery but nobody cared to paint the rails. It just takes away some of the realism.
I know, I know, who am I to judge, my C track is not the most realistic looking track available with the plastic ballast and all, but if I am not doing anything else, at least I can paint the rails. So this is what I did.
To paint the rails I use Vallejo "Nato Brown" (Vallejo 71.249). It dries to a some what rusty brown that is dark and works well for a rail colour.
I apply the paint with a paintbrush, but you can also use an airbrush if you are into that. Just be careful not to paint the entire track including track bed.
Take a look at the before picture and see how shiny and new the rails are. I think it makes the track seem like a foreign element in the rest of the scenery.
The rails are shiny and new when not painted.
The rails have now been painted. Look at the difference! Suddenly the track does not seem like a foreign element anymore and it looks more like a real railway.
A painted rail makes a world of difference.
Here are some pictures of the scenery after all the rails have been painted.
I do not think the ballast mat solution with the C track on top is bad looking at all. I keep the flexibility to re-arrange the track configuration and I get the enjoyment of constructing the scenery around the track. What more can one wish for?
My NOHAB (number 1140) from the Danish State Railway is out to test the newly painted track.
I guess I have a thing for wood transports. I think they look awesome.
I believe that painting your rails is the best thing you can do, if not doing anything else, this will add the most to the realistic look of your track.