how to model grass
It is a lot more complicated modelling grass
than you may think! Apart from seasonal differences, grass may be in a
water meadow, grazing land, hayfield or tennis court.
Where animals are grazing most of the grass will be
very short. There are often clumps of longer less palatable grass
and there will also be thistles, fat hen and small meadow flowers. Modern selective herbicides
have much reduced the flora in fields.
This is how we do it.
First, we just paint the plaster surface with
matt brown emulsion paint. The surface is then painted with PVA and
Woodland Scenics blended grass scattered on to form the undercover.
We then add Silfor tufts if required and some
Woodland Scenics medium turf (as clumps). For ungrazed areas we use the same methods
but include patches where dyed lint has been glued down and when dry,
ripped off. The blades are then teased up with a toothbrush. Reeds and
very long grasses are represented by plumbers rope, cut to length and
pushed into the Polyfilla substrate when it is still soft. They are then
trimmed to size and spray painted. This is best done early during the
meadow with just scatter and tufts
ungrazed land using scatter and tufts
We then use a Noch electrostatic grass system
for those areas at the front of the layout. The Noch is an expensive piece of kit, and
some (including myself) have tried to build one using an electric fly swat. These swats are
pretty useless for killing flies although rather satisfying (it's the
sizzle, you know). Most flies just seem
to recover and eventually fly away, presumably with total memory loss, or
at best, no longer suffering from depression!
previously clinically depressed fly following treatment with the electric fly swat
The fly swat version does
not work any better as a grass system, rather sadly although all and sundry continue to post
about them on Yahoo Groups. I am told that the swats are not allowed in
Australia as it is considered cruel to flies.......the World has really
gone mad! Perhaps they could be useful for playing badminton.
To see a video of using an electrostatic
Firstly, one has to say that the machine is
monstrously large. It might be excellent for covering large areas but very
wasteful and messy for detail work. We use PVA diluted 40% with water. Where we are going to
apply, the glue is put on with a brush. We then dig in a pair of forceps
at about the centre and attach the anode crocodile clip to it.
One then starts to tap the container and
after about a minute, the grass starts to fly out and attach itself to the
glue. Once you are happy with the coverage, (which will also be half way
across your layout) run a vacuum cleaner over it, about 1" away. This
removes the excess and also helps the grass to stand up.
Even the short grass is long for 4mm scale,
however it is excellent for hay fields and ungrazed land. We find that
many of the supplied colours are as gaudy as a fairground galloper, but
the Noch short 'Dark Green' is about right for lush Devon grass. We do mix a few
other colours with it to obtain variation.
A new system from Greenscenes is now
available for sale which seems a lot better as well as significantly
Replace the battery
supplied with a new one.
Line the inside of the
container with foil...it must touch the base of the unit.
The grill size can be
suitably blanked off to reduce the application area.
Hopefully one now has a very furry field!
Even the short grass is too long for a grazed meadow, so now we get to
detailing. Again, I must point out that we are modelling for early June,
and the techniques have to be changed for the month. Firstly we lightly
touch the tops of the upright longer grass and tufts with a light stone
paint. While wet, we stroke in the paint with a finger and the effect seems to work
to give the impression of grass going to seed.
The long grass in then reduced in height by
scattering Woodland Scenics blended grass and gently rubbing this in. Suddenly, the effect starts to look so much better. We use some
brown scatters too, say where the soil is thin, or under the shade of
trees. The trick is to make sure that none of this scatter remains sitting
on top of the blades of grass. It is now time to judiciously scatter
yellow, red and mauve flowers. The scatter can come out far too big. Once
applied, we tease out to reduce in size and just remove the bigger clumps.
Usually, more is less with wild flowers.
We then add small pieces of asparagus fern
(previously soaked in glycerine and water) to represent fat hen and
thistles. Last year's fat hen will have flowered (bolted), and many will still
stand, coloured a rich brown. Thistles can have a flower added.
Where appropriate, bracken can be added. You
can use the etched brass variety. We use paper which is laser cut for us.
Other plants, such as Docks can also be
Stabilise the meadow using artist fixative
spray. Remove excess bits with a vacuum cleaner otherwise they will land
up in your locomotive mechanisms.
Tended lawns are best modelled using one of
the fine grass mats available in good model shops. Mowed lawns
show stripes indicating the direction if cylinder mowers are used. These
can be simulated on such sheets by ironing is opposite directions. I use a
brass bar of 8mm attached to a handle. This is placed on your wife's
electric iron to warm and off you go!
Even well tended grass will usually have
patches that are more or less green. This can be modelled by using colour
washes or by judicious spraying with an air brush.
Some folks seem to do well using teddy bear
fur as a start. Personally, whatever I do, I find it still looks a bit
shiny and like teddy bear fur!
Grassland and meadows will also have a large
variety of other plants growing in it. These can be represented by many
means. These day, one can purchase laser cut bracken and a selection of
broad leaved plants such as docks. Interesting clumps can be represented
by Woodland Scenics medium green coarse turf. Brambles by tearing up
traditional fibrous carpet underlay and adding leaves from suppliers such
You can actually punch out leaves and flowers
from coloured tissue paper. I use small paint brushes that have lost their
bristles. The end of the metal bristle holder can be bent to the shape
desired and sharpened with a fine file. If you cut the shapes on a sheet
of lead, the punches will last some time.
Silfor produce many excellent ready to use
products. One supplier is