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Model Railroad E-Book - Building Scenery [Kalmbach-Model Railroader]

Model Railroad E-Book - Building Scenery [Kalmbach-Model Railroader]

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Building scenery

. Inexpensive (particularly with messy methods). B The three elements As my friend Bob Hayden says. 4. or plaster cloth strips (neat method). yyy . Lots of modelers choose browns that are too dark.. Hot glue vertical 1"-wide corrugated cardboard strips in place. 4. Soils are lighter than we think. May need modifications to obtain final shape desired.. color.. 1. yy . (Hint: Hot-wire tools are great. Let’s start with form. Messy (unless plaster cloth and Sculptamold are used). Slow. Lightweight and quite durable (especially good for modules and portable layouts). 2. using plaster (messy).. 3. yy . and you can no longer put off building scenery. say. brush it on. Usually we thin the latex paint about 50-50 with water. (Scraps can often be picked up at construction sites. and then begin sprinkling scenery materials on immediately to take advantage of the paint’s adhesive quality. the shapes of things. 20 years ago... it’s easier today than it was. so if you have difficulty choosing. Sculptamold is sold in hobby and craft shops. easy to achieve the shape you want. the trains are running. 3. Modeling with extruded foam board is extremely popular with today’s modelers. yy . 1. 2. looking at the real thing and studying photos is much more reliable. 2. Apply finish surface with putty knife. Lightweight (particularly if Sculptamold is used). but requires a pliers-type stapler. Your best friend here is observation. yy .) Fig.Materials and techniques for transforming a Plywood Central into a realistic model railroad een procrastinating? Sooner or later all the track is laid and wired. although a hot-wire tool eliminates much of this problem. the more you do it. Foam board method First foam layer supported by wood risers. Weave in horizontal strips and staple (or hot glue) where strips cross. Cardboard Strip Method Increase flexibility by bending while pulling across a handy surface. (Stapling is much faster and easier. 1. Easily modified. it’s time to paint it. yy . thanks to all the quality scenery products now available. choose that. You’re ready to paint the surface with tan latex paint. Need carefully applied finish layer to hide outline of strips. I’ve listed some advantages and disadvantages with each. Fortunately. the better you get. Stack up layers cut from foam insulation board. Advantages 1.. knives. plus our layout lighting doesn’t approach the intensity of sunlight. Bond with Liquid Nails for Projects. 1 MODELING SCENIC FORMS A. Fig.) 3. yyy . 1 MODELING SCENIC FORMS B. ILLUSTRATIONS BY KELLIE JAEGER . the equipment has been detailed and weathered. Medium tan in a flat latex wall paint works very well for model railroad scenery. particularly if building a large layout. Plaster cloth is sold in hobby shops. Disadvantages 1. or Sculptamold (very neat). 2. Some scenery fundamentals 2. yy . After considerable squinting and hand waving over imaginary contours you’re ready to start. 3. Surform tools. Lay on surface of hand-sized paper towel strips dipped in soupy plaster (messy method). Fast (particularly on broad expanses).. there are three elements of scenery-making: form. We can Advantages Disadvantages 1. 2. whatever works.) You’re out only a few bucks worth of materials and you’ve gained valuable experience.. 3. and texture.) That’s it. No wood formers ever needed. Color and texture Once we’ve modeled the ground. Our memories don’t serve us well. Smooth surface with hot-wire tool. Can be messy. Remember that no stretch of scenery has to last forever. 1" and 2" thicknesses work well. yy . Expensive if foam insulation board is purchased.. Controllable. You can get nearly everything you need at a well-stocked hobby shop. Figure 1 shows two popular techniques. you can just knock it out and try again. Get all three right and your scenery will be right. Like most everything else in this hobby. If you don’t like it. (Lots of fine modelers have done just that more than once. Cut strips across the corrugations.

For the rest of us a better. but you’ll get the hang of it quickly. Keep a cup of clean water handy (change it frequently). 2. this technique is also useful later in the painting process. . and if you don’t believe me. Woodland Scenics is a major manufacturer. This is plastic foam (the material inside seat cushions) ground up and dyed. Don’t overdo it. Paint rocks with acrylic paints. sprinkle on sifted real dirt. wipe it dry on a paper towel. as shown in fig. A variety of grinds (from fine to coarse) and colors is available. y . 2 ADDING GROUND COVER 1. just sprinkle some green ground foam on a stretch of plywood next to the track and run a train by. ground-up leaves. Sprinkle on more materials. Fig. revealing still loose materials underneath. but the favorite material today is ground foam. patching plaster. For a wealth of further information. wherein you dip the brush into paint. 3. You’ll also need some Titanium White and Mars Black to lighten or darken colors.) Painting rocks Most modelers use artist’s acrylics. raw umber. (A palette knife works best for me. 2. 3 COLORING ROCK CASTINGS 1. faster method is to cast rocks in rubber molds. available at hobby shops. Give scenery modeling a try. For small areas spray on “wet” water (water with liquid detergent added). wherein you flood an area with a thin solution of paint. Generally this means you can keep working without waiting for work to dry thoroughly. For the most part we stick with earth tones: burnt umber. Adding about a half-teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent will help the adhesive penetrate the scenery materiLots of modelers carve rocks in plaster as it is setting up and some get good results. but many modelers go straight to work with colors.) A 1⁄2" flat brush works well for this. spray again. How to build realistic model railroad scenery. detergent added. techniques. To unify a rock surface apply plaster between castings and use a knife to carve the wet plaster so it blends with the castings. and molding plaster all work well for casting rocks. Another technique is drybrushing. let dry. y . (Yes. Plaster of paris. Either let the castings set up in the molds. You can. a white dish. say a 1" or 11⁄2" flat. let dry. This may sound artsy and difficult. and materials. or else keep an eye on them and as they’re setting hold them in place on the layout to cast rocks in place. Flow on black wash with wide brush. It’ll make a tremendous difference on your layout. etc. Bond by spraying with diluted adhesive. Rocks Bonding scenery materials As you build up scenery materials you can bond them in place by spraying them with a dilute mixture of adhesive from a household plant sprayer. A good ratio for spraying is 5 parts water to 1 part matte medium. usually out of tubes. burnt sienna. and start mixing with your brush and painting. for example.) When painting rocks I begin with a thinned coat of white. Just mix the plaster to a thick cream consistency and pour it in the molds. (Clean the sprayer afterward if you expect to be able to use it again. Besides being good for establishing a color base. then brush vertically over raised surfaces. then glue them to the layout. What a difference! 1 3. Sprinkle on scenery materials (sand. can clean up easily. als.Fig. Lightly drybush to highlight surface detail. get Dave Frary’s book.) I like to use matte medium. an all but imperceptible amount of paint has remained on the brush. or whatever is handy (as long as it’s white so you can see the colors). apply a thin coat of dark color that will settle into nooks and crannies and help bring out the detail. Paint surface with thinned tan latex paint. and won’t get chemical reactions.). 2. published by Kalmbach. All I’ve attempted here is to touch on some primary concepts. They dry quickly and clean up with soap and water. or kitty litter. The first is washes. 4. tiny rocks. Otherwise you can end up with a crust that breaks away. 3. ground foam. an acrylic varnish available from art supply stores. Of these burnt umber (a rich brown) is the most useful. Squeeze out short ribbons of paint on a palette. Washes and drybrushing Several special painting techniques will prove helpful. then apply the adhesive (mixed the same as for spraying) with an eyedropper. Repeat cycle until desired results are achieved. (You’ll note that the materials we’ve discussed here are all water-soluble. and raw sienna. See fig. applying it with a large brush. y .

As a result. and color vary greatly in nature. size. enjoys scratchbuilding highly detailed structures. easy. Ohio. In fact. his Hall Hollow diorama. won first place for On-line Display at the 2001 National Model Railroad Association convention in St. as seen in this article. It is an Appalachian valley coal mine surrounded by muddy roads. building show-quality scenery can be fun. My scenery techniques were inspired by a convention clinic given by late MODEL RAILROADER staff member Art Curren in the 1990s called “Scenery as I See It. convincing. Hall Hollow. Mo. rock outcroppings. adding realistic texture to the scene. brush. prize-winning foreground scenery doesn’t have to be time-consuming or overly complex. and most importantly. and rewarding. Louis. the more texture you can add to your scenic details such as trees. simple to duplicate for your own model railroad. with a little effort and research. rama. and undergrowth. the more realistic they’ll appear to the viewer.” The main point of Art’s clinic was that density. of Cincinnati. shape. dense brush.BUILD REALISTIC ighly detailed. Having won many awards for his modeling work. Follow along as I take you step-by-step through the process I used to build the scenery for my HO scale model contest dio- H The scenery techniques Sam Swanson uses on his HO scale layout and award-winning dioramas are fun. 1 Sam Swanson. and wooded hills. .

I rub the road with a stiff brush or my finger to give it that dusty. one part glue). holding them together with Liquid Nails for Projects adhesive and bamboo skewers. Typically the lines provide a color contrast – dark-ballasted rights-of-way versus light clay roads – and each helps catch the viewer’s eye. I mix fine clay soil with diluted white glue to a consistency of peanut butter as seen in the photo on the right. hard-packed clay road appearance as seen in the photo below. . I build the rough topography by stacking layers of foam. For rail spurs. For dirt roads. and cut spaces for structure bases that will be incorporated into the scene. For the final touch. a rasp. Next I sprinkle dry clay on the non-rutted areas and let the road dry thoroughly. I pencil in roads and trackwork with a permanent marker. I then spread soil and ballast around the track and secure it with diluted white glue (two parts water. 2 ROADS AND TRACKS WITH PURPOSE I use track spurs and roads as leading lines to guide viewers into a scene. I glue flextrack into place with a thin layer of Liquid Nails spread on top of the foam roadbed.) Next.SCENERY 1 A SOLID YET FLEXIBLE BASE Landscaping from the foam up By Sam Swanson • Photos by the author For a solid foundation I use extruded foam insulation board. Other tools that work well for shaping the foam include a Surform tool. After the glue dries. (A Shop-Vac is also a handy item to help control the mess. various wire brushes. Then I spread it on the roadway about 1⁄8" thick and work in ruts with the end of a paintbrush. the land features are easy to define using a serrated-edge paring knife. and even sandpaper.

4 BLENDED GROUND COVER 5 FUZZY UNDERBRUSH To give the ground the proper look. First I paint the outcropping with a suitable tan color. 48 flower mix to a few of the poly fiber mats. I use the same colors as the ground cover and prepare a variety of color combinations. Next. I vary the underbrush mats by mixing up the colors. the Appalachian hills. and ground foam to create my basic ground cover. roads. I use two strengths of diluted white glue: The stronger the glue mixture. I use thinly stretched mats of poly fiber covered with several different colors of fine ground foam fixed in place with either maximum-hold hair spray or Testor’s Dullcote. To vary the soil color. foam colors include a variety of greens. and densities. shapes.3 EASY ROCK OUTCROPPINGS The bulk of the outcroppings on the diorama are carved from the same foam insulation board I used for the base. rock debris. I add dashes of Woodland Scenics no. I consider everything from grass tufts. I then add soil and fine ground foam. often placing different colors on the front and back of the mats. I start by painting the open foam areas between the track. The two materials best suited to modeling underbrush are jute twine for grass and commercial poly fiber for bushes and thickets. They have the “fuzzy quality” that Art Curren stressed as important in model scenery and simulate the dense undergrowth found throughout my modeled region. For your layout. the darker the color of the soil when it dries. . To make wildflowers. and yellows. as shown in the photo. consulting pictures of the area you are modeling is a must when making these color selections. bushes. Then I sprinkle or brush the clay liberally on the rock face and let it dry completely before proceeding. and rock outcroppings with a flat interior latex tan paint. I add texture to the rocks by what I call the “soiling” process: affixing fine clay to the rocks with diluted white glue. I brush diluted glue over the painted/stained (and thoroughly dried) surface. For the area I model. I commonly use eight different colors. browns. starting with Woodland Scenics Green and Earth blends. I use a four-step finishing system. along with talus (rocks sloughed from outcroppings) around the rocks. As a final step. I then carve and sand the outcroppings until I am satisfied with the lines and shapes of the rocks. I drybrush the rocks with lighter colors of paint to highlight and accentuate the texture. I score and snap 2"-thick foam pieces and glue them in place to start the rock formations. brier thickets. I let the ground cover dry thoroughly before adding any other scenic details. and weed accumulations to be underbrush. I stain crevices and shadowed areas with a thinned complementary dark color of paint. When installing them in the scene. In the second step. I use an assortment of soils. For the third step. To create large areas of thicket and weed underbrush quickly. I stretch the mat so some of the ground cover shows through and glue it in place with beads of fullstrength white glue.

When dry. and colors enough to produce realistically wooded hills. I use sunflower roots and various twigs. but to vary trunk and foliage sizes. I start near the bottom of the tree and work out and up along the trunk and branches. . First I test the placement of the trees in the scene. I use Woodland Scenics fiber and clump (or cluster) foliage. I plant each tree by pressing it firmly into the foam base. You can also use grass tufts to make small bushes by gluing fine foam to the jute fibers for leaves. For saplings I use the small twigs that break off when making trees and top them with a ball of commercial fiber or clump foliage. holding it in place with hair spray or Dullcote. Later. only after all the other scenery has been completed. and saplings. BUSHES. With that. I typically use bushes in heavy undergrowth areas to provide some vertical shapes and vary the texture of the underbrush. For grass tufts. My goal is not to model specific species. 8 LEAVES FOR YOUR TREES To add leaves to the trees. To make the dense stands of deciduous trees that characterize Appalachia. I combine sunflower roots and twigs. When dry. either individually or in groups of three or five. I install the trees on the diorama last. gluing the foliage balls on with white glue. shapes. I also use Scenic Express SuperTree commercial kits for their light and airy appearance. I use three different types of trunks covered with fiber and clump foliage. Once I am happy with how they look. Sometimes I thicken the trunks by sculpting root bases from Duro Master-Mend green epoxy and then paint the roots to match the rest of the tree trunk. I highlight the treetops by dusting them with light-colored fine ground foam. The key to making realistic trees is to cover the sunflower and twig branches with many small puffballs of teased foliage material individually glued to the branches.020" brass wire to the base as a mounting pin. I add a 3⁄8" length of . I fill in any unwanted open spaces by gluing puffballs directly to each other. bushes.6 TUFTS. textured Appalachian scenery is finished and you can to amaze your friends with your realistic re-creation. I make simple bushes from poly fiber or tree foliage balls sprinkled with fine foam. After those have had time to set. much as they do in nature. both work well and provide variety through color and density. I stain and tease jute twine. securing it with white glue. as well as fine ground foam. They’re realistic and free! I preserve the natural trunks by allowing them to dry thoroughly over a couple of months and then submerging them in a pool of diluted white glue. AND SAPLINGS 7 TREE TRUNKS THAT LOOK RIGHT With the poly fiber underbrush in place. For my homemade tree trunks. I use saplings to bridge the transition from underbrush to the wooded areas. your lush. I plant the tufts in holes in the foam base and secure them with white glue. I add more detailed individual underbrush items including grass tufts. To make larger trees.

and maybe some larger rocks and a hillside behind the train. however. and pine forests. as fig. (fig. is a few feet of rocky soil.. Nothing helps like the real thing. .Western scenery How-tos for handling the subtleties of arid scenery in foreground locations By Pat Gerstle • Photos by the author M any modelers are drawn to Western scenery: snow-capped mountain ranges. The photos are large. The photo of Clear Creek Canyon. I suspect some modelers even choose the location before they choose a railroad. but what we usually see when standing trackside. For general how-to on scenery. 2 shows. I recommend Dave Frary’s How to Build Realistic Scenery for Model Railroads from Kalmbach Publishing. Colo. and provide a detailed view of the railroad and its surroundings. endless deserts. some scrubby bushes. so I have an equally large collection of personal photographs. very high quality. 1) is the sort of scene that inspires us to model the West. Research Among my primary references for colors and general scenes are pictures from railroad wall calendars. twisting canyons. This article is about how to model this up-close-to-the-action trackside detail.

stream beds. To fix the groundcover. Next I added rock castings. Harvest Gold. Fig. 4. I have cut and glued some 2"-thick blue foam to form the base of a small rise on which a mine will be placed and covered the foam with plaster soaked towels or gauze. turf and coarse turf in Yellow Grass. Fig. Concentrate the talus in gullies. ballast (fine and medium) in Buff and Brown. but few layouts have the space to model such large vistas. At this stage your scene should look like fig. place more toward the bottom. Now scatter small patches of the turf and grass around – not a lot and concentrated in the areas where moisture would collect. A lot of the shrubs are placed near the larger rocks because moisture collects in the shadows. of all sizes. 3. Now wait for things to dry.Terrain In fig. mix one part paint with two parts water for more of a stain. 3. I make a palette of these materials by placing them in empty tuna cans in a box lid. Start by painting a small area (about one square foot) with a thick coat of full-strength white glue. Ground cover The next process introduces most of the surface details. On the rocks. I then painted this base with a soupy mix of plaster to fill in any holes and thin areas. I used the following Woodland Scenics products: talus (fine. medium. and at the base of rock formations. I use Sears no. usually you see a relatively shallow scene of rocks and grass. Put some of the medium and fine talus around the large and randomly distribute the rest over the whole area. 1 CLEAR CREEK CANYON. 2 TRACKSIDE SCENERY. and Light Green. Light Green. fixing them in place with plaster and painting around them with the plaster soup to blend them into the base. and field grass in Natural Straw. Fig. Brush it over everything except the rocks. then brush on some dilute raw umber for reddish highlights. Concentrate them where water naturally collects. I also use finely sifted dirt and goldmine tailings I gathered from the area I’m modeling. The last thing I add is the field grass – I love this stuff! I add clumps in all shapes and sizes around larger rocks and in gullies. Fig. Pat paints the whole area a light tan. I spray on a coat of “wet water” (water with one or two drops of dish detergent added so that it soaks into the groundcover). Earth. Finish with your favorite black wash (either very thin black paint or India ink and alcohol) to bring out the details. I think by striving for realism in the area you would see up close I’ve captured the look of Western scenery without trying to include the snow-capped back range! 1 Pat Gerstle is a computer programmer who lives just outside of Lexington. Fig. coarse. 770 interior flat latex diluted with an equal amount of water. and Fall Mix. clump foliage in Burnt Grass. and Soil. . 4 ROCKS AND MORE ROCKS. drop the medium talus around. Use more of the medium and lots more of the fine. Make sure the ground is thoroughly saturated with glue. This is his first published article. If the area is sloped. Now drop the large talus pieces randomly and in groups over the area. Only when all is solidly dry do I plant the larger shrubs and trees. Plants don’t dominate Western scenery. At trackside. After shaping the basic landform and adding rock castings. without waiting for the plaster to dry. This view typifies the scenery of the West. Burnt Grass. 5 PLANT LIFE. Then I use an eyedropper to distribute a 50/50 mixture of white glue and water. followed by the fine. Next. Western scenery is mostly beige with some light tans and reds thrown in. Woodland Scenics talus and ballast provide a wide range of rock sizes to work with. Your finished scene should look something like fig. you rarely see big vistas. 3 BASE TERRAIN. scattered and piled everywhere. but they’re needed. Ky. Finally. I painted the ground and castings with the base color. and extra coarse in Buff and Brown. and most of the surface detail in the West consists of LOTS of rocks. The shrubs are clump foliage and the trees are pines and aspens from K&S Scenery Products. His primary modeling interests are scenery and photography.

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Joe Whinnery relies on a time-honored technique to make typical Appalachian rock formations for his HO scale Eastern coal-hauling layout. . Beside getting great results. and that they knew exactly where the actual scene was I had modeled! That is the essence of model railroad scenery – making it look real. The technique I model rocks with is time-tested but perhaps new to some of you. – the rock layers folded into elongated arches and troughs. In some places – like this scene on Cranberry Grade at Terra Alta. Va. Re-creating dramatic scenes such as this is part of the fun of building scenery.7 O steps to realistic Easy scenery you can make with ceiling tile By Joe Whinnery • Photos by the author ROCKS ne of the nicest comments I’ve heard about my layout came during the 1997 National Model Railroad Association convention. Ceiling tile built up in layers. Some visitors from back East said the sedimentary rock formations on my HO scale Eastern coal-hauling layout looked real. it’s easy and inexpensive. textured. W. and painted can re-create this dramatic effect. The Appalachian Mountains are layers of sedimentary rock that the massive collision of two continents forced upward.

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com) and patch any significant gaps in the tile with it using a palette knife (available at most art stores and some hobby shops). 4 . Africa and North America have probably collided at least twice in Earth’s long history. so I tilted some ceiling tile layers upward with a small wedge of material. after it dries. and the screwdriver and hacksaw blade to make deep. Weight or pin the pieces together until the glue dries. then let’s make some rocks! 1 a board creates a clean edge. but it’s more difficult to achieve the layered look I wanted. Snapping pieces of tile over the edge of the height you want the rock formation to be.Ceiling tile unlimited I prefer ceiling tile for creating large sedimentary rock formations typical of the Appalachians. Refer to photos of real rock formations and use your imagination. You can carve ceiling tile with a wire brush. It’s inexpensive and easy to find. shape. and broken hacksaw blades. vertical fissures. I’ve also used plaster castings with good results because the rubber molds duplicate the textures of real rock. utility knife. 1 TILE PIECES. Use the wire brush in a long horizontal motion to get a layered look. 3 PATCHING. Got your new pieces of ceiling tile and some tools? Good. it will take paint just as well as the ceiling tile layers. extruded foam board makes fine rock surfaces. Ceiling tile has many advantages. Score the white side with a screwdriver. It’s a good idea to do this step outdoors because of the dust it creates. creating arches called “anticlines” and troughs called “synclines. I wanted some sections of my scenery to reflect this signature geological effect. and color. This is the messiest part of the rock-making process. And always wear a dust mask when cutting and carving ceiling tile. a straight-slot screwdriver. But I’ve found most rock molds are too small to effectively and efficiently create large rock expanses. 2 BUILDING UP LAYERS. Planning pays off Before grabbing my carving tools. tectonic plate action compressed many sedimentary rock layers.walthers. The discarded stuff might contain asbestos – model railroading is supposed to be fun. such as a door shim.” which are prevalent in the Appalachians. or old hacksaw blade. cut. The Sculptamold shows as white areas against the gray tile and. so make sure you do it outside and wear a dust mask. And during one of the continents’ earlier collisions. As was mentioned in Part Four of Tony Koester’s Coal Fork Extension series (September 1998 MODEL RAILROADER). Glue each successive layer to the one beneath it with white glue or a thin layer of an acrylic adhesive such as Liquid Nails for Projects. then gently bend the tile over the board until the piece snaps off. Mix up a small batch of Sculptamold (a clay and paper product available at most hobby shops or from Walthers at www. not hazardous to your health. In the same vein. and the last collision created the Appalachian Mountains. I take some time to plan how I want the scene to look. But make sure you buy new ceiling tile at a home-improvement or hardware store rather than scrounging for castaway pieces from an old building. Stack layers of ceiling tile to CARVING.

then college.com. 5 SEALING. Tile that’s too wet can break apart. Coloring the rocks is as simple as airbrushing or brush-painting earth-tone acrylic washes over the sealed surface. Louis Division. After a tour in the Army as a photographer. often covers rock faces. There you’ll find an article on how to make rock castings.. Joe works at the Brass Whistle. Wis. make a light pass with spray glue over stretched-out brown or green polyester fiber. Leftover tan-colored latex paint makes a great sealer. near Rockford. and it was one the layouts participants could visit during the 1997 NMRA convention in Madison. It’s best to color your rocks under the same kind of light that’s over your layout. Finely sifted dirt or gravel gives the appearance of soil that’s been washed down the face of the rock. Kudzu. The 13 x 30foot layout has earned the National Model Railroad Association’s Golden Spike and Master Scenery awards. a hobby shop in Loves Park. a noxious weed prevalent in the South. This step keeps the porous tile from soaking up too much sealer. 7 .modelrailroader. To simulate kudzu. add vegetation and soil. Joe’s interest in model railroading revived. If you brush-paint. C Tools you’ll need include: ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ straight-slot screwdriver old hacksaw blade dust mask wire brush ❑ ❑ ❑ ❑ palette knife 2" paintbrush shop vacuum airbrush (optional) Meet Joe Whinnery J oe’s interest in railroading started in grade school when his uncle worked as a brakeman for the Baltimore & Ohio’s St. You’ll get better results with several light passes of the airbrush rather than one heavy pass. Ill. and the Chessie System. 6 SOIL AND VEGETATION. apply thinned acrylic earth tones over faces. After blending the existing scenery base around the rock face. COLORING. then sprinkle medium-grade ground foam on the fiber. visit MODEL RAILROADER’S Web site at www. then spray the rocks with water to blend the colors. You can use an airbrush or brush-paint. Let the sealer coat dry completely before applying any other colors.PROJECT AT A GLANCE eiling tile is a handy material for making easy and realistic sedimentary rock formations like those typically found in the Appalachian Mountains. An airbrush lets you do more precise coloring. brushing water over the tile face. such as simulating a layer of shale in sandstone. Get rid of the “fuzzies” the wire brush caused by More on our Web site For another basic technique you can use to make realistic rocks. His current layout is an HO scale Eastern coal hauler drawing on the B&O. Chesapeake & Ohio. In addition to his career as a professional photographer.

twine fibers. I received a German model railroad magazine which had some superb photos of scenery with tall grass that made me look twice. but the tall blades have been bleached by the sun. Unfortunately. The rails shimmered brightly in the afternoon sun while birds soared overhead and the field resounded with the sounds of summer insects. The fine nylon fibers are tightly packed. In 1998. My first sample was a square of winter pasture. This mat represents grass that’s been standing for some time so the leaves closest to the ground are still green.Splendor in the grass Modeling knee-deep grass with a new material and methods By René Gourley • Photos by the author A s a youngster I spent many quiet afternoons sitting in a trackside field about a mile from my home while the breezes rustled through the tall grass. and fake fur comes on a woven backing that’s too dense. providing an excellent representation of a densely planted field of standing hay. Ultimately my patience was rewarded when the blare of a distant air horn brought me to my feet so I could see the oncoming train. ground foam evokes leaves and foliage better than it does tall. vertical grass. The tall grass along the right-of-way never saw a mower so some of the plants tickled my chin when I walked through them. a German manufacturer of scenery materials. Over the years. First sample Silflor makes a variety of grass materials as shown in photo 1. Turning the sample over. The article indicated that the scenery was made using products from Silflor. irregular field of hay. I’ve attempted a number of techniques to duplicate these high grasses in HO scale using fake fur. and ground foam. See photo 2. The grass never gets . I found the grass is woven into a backing of heavier fibers. You can pull this substrate apart to produce a scattered.

worked into the grass mat with an old toothbrush.1 2 3 4 5 1. Trim off any excess grass after the glue has dried overnight. Silflor’s grass is too dense for the scrubby growth along the right-of-way. Avoid the temptation to press with your fingers as that results in a matted jumble.internationalmodels. to hide the substrate fibers. GRASS APPLICATION. recently moved from Canada to England. this sheen is easily remedied with a fine spray of matte medium.shore. VARIETY. It takes a little time. Kent. pasture with weeds. Set the mat on the wet glue and press it down with tweezers to prevent matting. I can apply this dulling spray before or after planting. and pasture with long grass. some of the grasses fall over. and the materials are somewhat more expensive than dyed sawdust. Birchington. I use an airbrush to keep from gluing everything together in a big mess. where he’s a consultant for a computer database company. Planting procedures The photos show how easy it is to duplicate the coarse grasses and undergrowth common along the railway right-of-way with the Silflor grass mats. See photo 3.html International Models 22 Harold Rd. 5. Use fine sifted dirt. To hide the substrate fibers. or when the first glue dries. but clumps spread farther apart until they detach completely. Then flood the area with wet water and diluted white glue. GRASS AND SOIL. The autumn mat has the longer bristles to simulate tall grass.net/~jdf/tswelcome. the blades of grass are shiny so they reflect light in a distressingly unrealistic manner. The tweezers also comes in handy to make minor adjustments. 2. ADD DIRT. followed by diluted white glue to secure the soil. an S and HO fine scale modeler. Use tweezers to press the grass mat into the glue as shown in photo 4. As the clumps pull apart. Some of the soil will show through between the clumps of grass. The next morning. Use a retired toothbrush and your fingers to work the dirt into the grass and pull the Sources Silflor Products are available from the following mail order companies: Blue Ribbon Models P. The spaces in the mat require application over a painted surface or one that has a soil texture so an appropriate color shows through. moorland. sparse. 4. although it goes fairly quickly when I work on several areas at a time. MA 01907-3333 www. 3. As delivered. It’s a small price to pay for the chance to go back to those youthful summer afternoons of lying in the grass listening for the first sounds of a train. O. pour the finest dirt you can get over the area. Full-strength white glue is the primary adhesive for this grass mat. Adjust the clump positions as needed with tweezers. Once the mat has been teased out. Being nylon. Then cut it to fit . summer. it’s glued down to a layer of soil using white glue. Pull it apart until the grass begins to look more realistic. CT7 9NA. the space. Box 333 Swampscott.net blades of grass back into view (photo 5). Other mat colors and textures simulate forest ground cover. The white glue soaks in and dries transparent. Silflor’s grass comes in short bristle spring. Patience rewarded These steps take a few evenings to accomplish. making a permanent bond that holds the grass fibers upright. THINNING GRASS. add some fine dark green ground foam and a few bits of chunkier light green foam and glue it down to represent some of the other plants mixed into the grass. Fortunately. but enough vertical blades remain to represent late season grass. UK www. 1 René Gourley. Spread the glue liberally in depressions and anywhere you plant the grass. and winter colors. Begin by stretching and teasing the mat as far as it will go. Flood the area with water wetted with a few drops of dish soap. Don’t worry if the edges of the mat overlap the glue area as they can be easily trimmed once the glue has dried overnight.

these crossings are all unique.w. the Yosemite Valley RR. 2) is more typical of the meandering creeks draining the foothills in the Merced area.A tale of three creeks These waterways illustrate both variety and consistency By Jack Burgess Photos by the author W e’ve all heard that variety is the spice of life. (nut-bolt-washer) castings. cool creek. The water for Bear and Black Rascal Creeks is casting resin that I poured in layers 1⁄8" to 1⁄4" deep. we soon have a mishmash of scenes that don’t relate to each other in a realistic way. Moisture in the adjacent ground allows the grass to remain green during the hot summer months. I used real dirt to form the banks. Black Rascal (fig. left Merced in California’s San Joaquin Valley and headed for Yosemite National Park. just the first layers of casting resin for Black Rascal Creek were lightly colored with green and blue to result in a clear. I scratchbuilt the bridges from prestained stripwood and n. using brown and green tints for the first layers and green and blue for the middle layers. just keep pushing it up. In contrast.b. I dappled the surface of the creeks with a coat of acrylic gloss medium. On the other hand. slow water. it quickly crossed three creeks: Bear Creek at milepost 1. and Fahrens less than a mile later at 2. While there is a tendency for the material to lean over. Since Bear Creek is relatively deep (a scale 10 to 12 feet). Using sticky white craft glue rather than regular white glue also helps. Bear Creek I duplicated the dense wild bamboo covering the banks of the real Bear Creek using Woodland Scenics field grass (fig.35. I airbrushed Noch electrostatic grass a light green.90. Initial modeling All three creek crossings have standard YVRR concrete abutments. Bear Creek has relatively uniform banks covered with wild bamboo. As the glue dries. Once the casting resin had cured. The willows which encroach into . Black Rascal at 1.70. Once the bamboo was in place and the glue had dried. distinct scenes are essential to helping portray distance and variety. It’s easy to follow this advice when adding scenery to our layouts. it will finally hold position. This was tedious but produced the look I was after. so I made a mold and cast the six abutments from Hydrocal plaster. The final layers I poured clear. to the casting resin. little further detailing was needed. The solution is to take clues from nature. Both Black Rascal and Fahrens flow along nonnative eucalyptus groves with occasional sycamores or cottonwoods along their banks. 1). I applied it by cutting small clumps and gluing it in place with white glue. But if we add a little of this and a little of that. As my prototype. These darker colors emphasize the deep. To duplicate these conditions. I used a moustache scissors to trim the material to a relatively even length. so slightly different scenes can be developed which will be realistic and also faithful to the prototype. I added color directly Black Rascal Creek In contrast to Bear Creek. Regardless of proximity. Next I installed the bridges and roughed in the scenery with plaster. Since the banks of Bear Creek were covered with bamboo.

Portions of the real Fahrens Creek banks are covered with wild blackberry vines. 28 crosses Fahrens Creek on Jack Burgess’ HO Yosemite Valley RR. I then painted the heads brown. Modeling scenery accurately requires no more than observing nature and.) Since the area next to the bridge seemed an appropriate watering hole. A light sprinkling of red foam replicated ripening blackberries. so Jack added a raft and a youngster whiling away an August afternoon. I used fine beach sand to form the creek bottom and bonded it in place with diluted white glue. 3) is modeled as a dry creek bed. slow water is perfect for fishing. bonded the foam with hair spray. . Fahrens (fig. I used Woodland Scenics field grass to model the bullrushes along the creek banks. (Dried artichoke flowers can be found in craft stores. Detailing scenery can be a relaxing diversion from working on the rest of the layout. covering the hot glue. Cattails were made with short pieces of fishing monofilament which had been dipped in white glue and allowed to dry to form the heads. Fig. Detailing on the dry creek bed included adding cattails and bullrushes. sometimes. I mixed diluted white glue with fine-grained clay soil and spread it on the banks. contributes frequently to MODEL RAILROADER. typical of the Merced area in mid-summer. 2 BLACK RASCAL CREEK. 1 Jack Burgess. The deep. I gave the muddy area a light coat of acrylic gloss medium to make it look wet. and glued them in place with white glue. Fig. To model this. To complete the meandering creek scene Jack added a steer and muddy hoof prints. the creek are a combination of Woodland Scenics field grass and flower pieces from dried artichoke heads dyed light green. It’s one of the three distinct creeks he models. who models the Yosemite Valley RR circa August 1939. hot-gluing it in place. Fig. developing techniques to reproduce what you observe. I started with small poly fiber balls covered with ground foam. 1 BEAR CREEK.Engine no. The sand was added after the field grass was in place. 3 FAHRENS CREEK. Fahrens Creek Unlike Bear and Black Rascal Creeks.

In the many times I’d been there. Al promptly drove up a narrow road to the north of the tracks. But modeling this water would be a little different from what I had seen on most layouts because Cajon Creek is very shallow and clear. I was amazed to be standing in a dry landscape looking at more water than I had imagined. Topeka & Santa Fe. we walked up a short trail where we found a small. I had never looked into the creek’s sources. reflecting the . Water seeping up from cracks in the ground formed the lake. My question for him that day was. “Where does the water come from?” Despite the dry desert look of the pass some water always flowed down Cajon Creek. providing a source of water flowing through the pass year-round. clear lake nestled in the center of the San Andreas fault line. In January 2000 I was exploring the pass with Al Bowen.Cajon Creek step-by-step How to model this meandering mountain stream By Ted York Photos by the author I visit Cajon Pass at least twice a year to shoot photographs and collect information for my HO Atchison. a good friend who is well versed in the history and geography of the area.

Before finishing the creek Ted weathered the bridge and abutments so he wouldn’t get the weathering materials on the finished stream. a year-round source of water. Then came the fun. My weathering materials are on the messy side and I didn’t want to get them on the finished “water. Even though I’m modeling the desert there’s a lot of plant life. then smoothed it as it set up by simply rubbing the plaster in a circular motion with my hand. Modeling this was quite simple with a sponge. Finally. I pushed down upward bulges with my hand. then installed it with casting plaster. Next I soaked the material with isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol so the glue would penetrate. I added various shades of ground foam on top of the surrounding banks. On many areas along creeks. color of the streambed itself. and clouds passing overhead. Ted painted it with light tan household latex paint. Since my stream was only a small portion of the entire bed and very shallow. I painted a thin wash on the bridge.” I applied a very dilute wash of black shoe dye and isopropyl alcohol on the abutments. I used chalks to streak on the rust and dirt colors that wash down from the bridge. I filled paper cups with dirt sifted to various grades and began tossing it over the riverbed. Ted used a sponge to push the plaster into shape. vegetation. As I did. using a very dilute mix of the tan latex paint I used on the plaster. Next I painted on two coats of plaster of paris mixed to the consistency of latex paint. After the plaster set. I formed the smooth areas of the riverbed by spreading the plaster with a spatula. I put some plaster on an area then used a damp sponge to push it toward the bank. excess plaster moved up and over the sponge. 1 Ted York’s previous byline in MR was a story on detailing Union Pacific FA-1s. The following photos and captions take you step-by-step through how I modeled my steam. varied by shadows from the surrounding rocks. smoothing it out like I did the riverbed.Preparation F irst I prepared the streambed. After the plasterwork was done I gave it a quick coat of a light tan latex paint. the bank has eroded leaving the top layers of soil hanging. . crosses Cajon Creek. using cardboard strips to form my scenery base then attaching cheesecloth with hot glue. I used a coat of diluted Elmer’s white glue to fasten the ground cover. Dabbing at the plaster with the sponge as it sets up gives the plaster a soil-like texture. A young railfan watches from below as a GP7 helper. lashed to the rear of a Santa Fe freight. To form the final scenery I came in with a coat of casting plaster about the consistency of cake batter. forming the eroded banks along the riverbed. much of it very green in spring. I modeled the concrete under the bridge (the Santa Fe called them concrete blankets) with sheet styrene scribed to represent expansion joints. I used dirt to form the channel that would contain the water. Before working anymore on the stream I weathered the bridge and abutments.

I studied photographs of the stream and decided a greenish brown was needed. The epoxy instructions tell you to pour a maximum thickness of only 1⁄8". it dries to a nice shine. watering down the paint as much as I could and still have it cover the dirt. I left town until morning to avoid the temptation to touch the stuff and mess it up. I was confident my streambed was leakproof except for the layout edge. I didn’t want it to be very thick there. The epoxy won’t stick to wax paper. Once I was satisfied with the pour. such as down the concrete and around rocks. Although Ted brushes on several coats of Mod Podge to build up the ripples that are found in moving water. Another nice feature is that if the water starts to look dull after a while. My project took two coats. The fun thing about this product is that if there’s a way for the resin to escape from your streambed it will. Sealing this escape route was quite simple: I sandwiched a synthetic sponge between wax paper and a piece of Masonite hardboard. water. unless you want major rapids. Be aware that Enviro-Tex tends to creep up the bank. and white. like around rocks and down the concrete blanket. On the concrete I pulled the brush down the slope to get a look of downward movement. Here’s the finished epoxy prior to applying the Mod Podge. If you care to add junk to the streambed such as brush. alternating between the two so I could blend them while wet. yellow oxide. After that set up I applied more. I can just grab the paintbrush and give the stream another quick coat of Mod Podge and it’ll be good as new. I used an old brush (old. allowing the epoxy to cure between each. If you need it thicker make separate pours. spread at random. so I bought a small bottle of Gloss-Luster Mod Podge at the local arts and crafts store. I painted most of the stream with a raw sienna and white mix. I Sandwiching a sponge between wax paper and a piece of Masonite stops the EnviroTex from “escaping” the layout. I ran a couple of screws through the Masonite. Pouring used Enviro-Tex Lite two-part epoxy resin for water. I was modeling moving water and needed ripples. it also cures as smooth as a sheet of glass. Not only does the water now give the illusion of moving down the streambed. I also brushed a little on the concrete blanket. to build up a nice textured surface. I used a paintbrush to spread the Mod Podge over the cured Enviro-Tex. pushing down on the brush and spreading the bristles to form a ripple pattern. Finally I drybrushed some white on areas that might have rapid moving Ted drybrushed white where there might be a rapid movement of water. This can be covered with ground foam. then added the olive color. Notice how the epoxy has creeped into the riverbank along the water. the Mod Podge goes on white. It’s too smooth to represent moving water. and old tires. because it’s the last time you’ll use it) to direct the epoxy. I used tube acrylics for the project and experimented until I found suitable colors. I first painted the riverbed the raw sienna mix.Painting C orrectly coloring the water-covered portion of the streambed is one of the most important things if you want a realistic-looking stream. I did it several times in the same spots to give the effect of water moving down in sheets as I have often seen on spillways. . Gloss Medium will work as well. now is the time. Let the paint dry before going on to the next step. It took three coats. but for the deeper mossy bottom I used an olive green mixed from black. I kept a separate container of water handy to dilute the acrylics as I applied them. it also gave the appearance of distorting the light as I looked into the water. Don’t overdo this though. attaching everything to the fascia and forming a tight seal. Just be sure the dam extends far enough to each side of the stream to prevent epoxy from going around the sides. I also painted a To give a realistic look to the water Ted painted the streambed with appropriate acrylic paint colors. Next I drybrushed some streaks of olive down the concrete to give the look of moss build-up where the water flowed over it. thin wash of the sienna down the concrete blanket. this time pushing the brush downward to spread the bristles as I had done with the rest of the stream.

and you’ll see inspiring full-color photos of the best model railroads in the world! Subscribe today! Order online at www. Outside the U. more accomplished model railroader.modelrailroader. Model Railroader encourages your creativity and your love of trains. call 262-796-8776 x661 04X1368 A4BM .com/promo Enter code: I4BM or call 800-533-6644 Monday-Friday.Model Railroader— the world’s most popular model railroading magazine! In every issue. step-by-step modeling projects. product reviews. Please have your credit card ready. You’ll discover tips to make building your layout easier. and Canada. You’ll get page after page of expert advice and inspiration to help you become a better. 8:30am-5:00pm Central Time.S.

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