Author Topic: Best Of Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover: Trees: Shrubs  (Read 23197 times)

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shark_jj

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Response seemed generally positive to this idea, so we will give Week 1 a try.  As an Interactive Clinic, this is not intended as one person's ideas, but rather a dialogue offering different techniques and ideas for accomplishing the same end.  The purpose of the Thread is learning so it is important that you address certain issues: 

1:  What materials did you use
2:  What tecniques did you use to get the effect
3:  Is the method cost effective for large areas

I know one of the things I have struggled with is getting a good "soil" look.  The area that is dirt with some weeds and grass found adjacent to the right of way or structures.  It is often too easy to make this area look like a front lawn.  I know Ed K has done well with this and I believe some months ago I saw a photo from Tom Mann that had looked very realistic. 

The "transition area" that lies between the aforementioned scrub and the forest is another area that can be addressed.

There is also the question of size.  Large layouts that require coverage in square feet, as opposed to small highly detailed layouts that require coverage in square inches.  Are there "good enough" techniques that can be applied in scenery.  This speaks to the cost effective issue.  As an example:  Super Trees are beautiful, but if you are covering 70 square feet of hillside, as I am in one scene alone, Super Trees would require a second mortgage. 

Here is one simple cost effective idea that I have been playing with for the Transition area just before the forest.  As I worked on covering the lichen for my forested hillsides with ground foam I ended up with a lot of debris in the box I was using to sit them in.  This was a combination of ground foam and lichen pieces.  I started to put it into a margarine container thinking it might be reusable as covering for more lichen.  It wasn't, too much debris in it.  But I have that "packrat" mentality so as I did hundreds of pieces of lichen I just kept collecting this stuff.  In looking at it I decided I would try it in the transition area just before the trees.  I have dropped some into a small area, it isn't glued down and have been looking at it now for about 3 weeks and can't decide where I like it or not.  It is one of those methods where it looks better in person than it does in photographs.  The rock, by the way is real and came from the Curve, I just stuck it there, but I like the 3D effect and may place it into the scenery at that location.








« Last Edit: October 11, 2015, 04:58:50 PM by tom mann »

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2008, 09:28:10 AM »
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Is that "scenic moss"? I love that stuff...

wm3798

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2008, 09:40:50 AM »
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I think what might be missing is some fully modeled trees at the front edge of your forest.  The scrub looks really good, but it seems to blend right into a trunkless canopy, so you don't really get the effect of it being forested.


In this view, you can definitely see some trunkage on the hill side.  Also, it may be due to a recent clearing of the area by the railroad, but it appears that the scrub is more grey than green... Lots of dried stuff and sticks and not so much foliage.  This was shot last July at Railfest.



In these views, again, the trunks are more apparent, and the second shot shows a lot more vertical definition in the canopy than your model shows.

Here's a transitional area I did...


Like you, I scavenged some actual rocks from my prototype's right of way, which helped me establish the base color of the soils.  The area I'm modeling has a lot of loose sedimentary shale, so the rock blends right into the soil, which is composed mostly of disintegrated material from the same rocks.  For ground cover, I use a combination of ground foams, mixing colors and textures to get a nice, coarse look.  I think this represents the mid-August overgrown look pretty well.  I use Scenic Express ground foam, which I think has more muted colors than Woodland Scenics.  The brush on the top of the rock face at the right is some green poly fiber that's stretched out and dappled with ground foam.

Lee
« Last Edit: April 30, 2008, 09:47:34 AM by wm3798 »
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shark_jj

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2008, 09:43:46 AM »
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Ed, the best description I have for it is "debris".  I bought my lichen at a Floral Wholesaler in Blue Ball Pennsylvania.  I believe they market it as Spanish Moss.  $2.50 a bag for a bag 4 times the size of a Woodland Scenics Bag.  12 bags to the case, I bought 4 or 5 cases years ago.  The lichen has been used several times so much of it has dried out and become brittle.  When I put ground foam on the lichen I put them on a box lid to dry.  Some ground foam falls off and some of the lichen disintegrates due to being dry.  This leaves "debris" in the box lid after the lichen is placed on the layout.  I have been saving this debris.  That is what you are looking at.  I believe the Scenic Moss you describe is a product also available at Floral Wholesalers which is stringy and hangs from trees in the south and is also marketed as Spanish Moss.

shark_jj

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2008, 09:46:49 AM »
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That is a really good point Lee, and I think addresses the issue that was troubling me.  This looks like that Kudzu you see on Highways south of Virginia that just crawls up and over everything.  Some shrubbery where the trunks are visible would really help the effect.  Thanks.

Ed Kapuscinski

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2008, 10:07:06 AM »
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Actually, looking at those pics that Lee posted, I DON'T see lots of trunks. It's mostly foliage, with a few branches, etc sticking up through them.

Maybe using some judicious application of super tree pieces will work for that.

And Thanks for the info about your lichen John, that's pretty much EXACTLY what I've got going on (but it's not leftovers).

wm3798

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2008, 10:18:46 AM »
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True, the foliage does overwhelm the visible trunks, but the trunks are there, and the other key is vertical nature of the first tier of foliage.  It rises well above the roof of the locomotive before it sweeps up the hill.
I agree that some strategically placed super trees and/or sedum based trees would vastly improve the proportions.

Lee
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Dave V

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 10:21:31 AM »
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I do some trunkage right up front, but then immediately taper back to just foliage clusters:



One other thing I picked up along the way from another PRR modeler (Mark Fry)...  You get a lot more depth to your hillsides and even your flat grass areas if you use flat black, rather than earth, as your base color:



Even under the dirt driveway here, the base color ended up being flat black:



After a couple heaping helpings of ground cover what little black still shows through just looks like depth rather than flat black.  I'd always had some trouble covering up all the earth-colored paint I used to use; the grass and trees always looked too "thin."  Not a problem anymore!!!
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tom mann

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2008, 10:43:44 AM »
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Tom Mann that had looked very realistic. 


I use real dirt available from Smith and Sons (from the Scenic Express catalog).  Real dirt from MD doesn't work for me, since it doesn't match the western scenery that i like.  You can mix earth colored chalk with it to get different tones.  For weeds, I use Silfor tufts.

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2008, 11:07:41 AM »
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Dave, good call on that flat black. I was thinking about trying that on the next project.

I was also thinking about going with a darker earth color with some texture to it (like what I've got, and should probably give to Tom... it's a tan "suede" paint that I got for $1. It'd be perfect for western stuff)



In thinking it all over, I think I'm going to start trying to avoid putting dirt down under ground cover and trying to get the right affect with the covering I use (paint, etc...), since I can't get dirt screened fine enough NOT to look like gravel in N, which THEN makes it more difficult to "size up" to gravel, then ballast, etc...

shark_jj

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2008, 11:12:55 AM »
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I agree about the flat black, I haven't been impressed with the tan colour.  It's a good suggestion.  I have a bunch of woodlands trees laying around, so I propped a couple of them up in the scene.  Lee you are right.  It needs that kind of look.  I might chop the trunks down so that only a bit of the trunk is visible, and of course the colour of the trees needs to be changed to be consistent with the lichen, however, it was a good suggestion and is getting me on the right track.

Tom, how do you find the colour of the soil once you hit it with the diluted glue.  Does it darken down?  Also can you give us some insight into sifting the soil, what level of strainer, and how small are the particles when you are finished.  Also, it seems to me that I read somewhere about drying the soil for a period of time if you are using the real stuff.




wm3798

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2008, 11:22:29 AM »
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Personally, I think flat black is bit severe.  Lately, as I've been mixing my sculptamold, I add a healthy dose of black craft acrylic paint, tempered with some dark brown.  Blended with the white material, it gives a nice rich earthtone without being overwhelming.




I am much happier with the results I got here than on the Chaffee Branch, which was built with plain white Sculptamold and finished with brown washes.  The finish there is way too light by comparison.


The problem is especially evident along the roadway above the retaining wall.  The light brown ground is way too evident under the foliage.

Lee
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shark_jj

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2008, 11:44:53 AM »
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Lee, you are right about the healthy dose of paint.  I have always coloured plaster after the fact.  I tried colouring some sculptamold the other day and I was surprised how much paint it takes to get the colour effect.

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2008, 12:05:46 PM »
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Lee, you are right about the healthy dose of paint.  I have always coloured plaster after the fact.  I tried colouring some sculptamold the other day and I was surprised how much paint it takes to get the colour effect.

I color Sculptamold with powdered concrete dye, which I got from a lumber yard. I purchased large containers of black and brown, and use them in various combinations for base earth colors. You can also use paint dyes, available at most paint stores. It takes far more paint to achieve the same coloration level as dyes.
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wm3798

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Re: Interactive Scenery Clinic Week1: Ground Cover
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2008, 12:06:25 PM »
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I usually work in smaller batches, about 2 cups or so of material at a time, so the proportions aren't that bad.  With all the real estate you have to cover, though, I can see where you'd go through a lot of paint to tint.  In your case, it's probably more efficient to paint over the final coat, although you run the risk of white plaster showing up when you chip the surface...
Lee
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