CP Executive train in Albany

CP Executive train in Albany

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Static grass in North Albany

As I started applying static grass to my layout I realized I was now "playing for keeps" and it was scary. Unlike some scenery textures, removing static grass that is embedded in train tracks or around structures isn't very easy. I knew I wanted it to look green, have an assortment of heights and textures, and appear "random." But, I couldn't conceptualize exactly how I was going to get there. So I just got started. 

I applied several different types of grass, and focused on different looks. For the three semi-active yard tracks, I built up the grass and let it spill onto the center and edges of the ties so that it appeared to be was growing up and through the tracks. Rarely would a train car be there to cut it up, spill toxic oil or chemicals to stymie it, or otherwise hamper its growth. But, I couldn't use the really tall stuff because these tracks would be used as part of staging when the mood struck.

In an ironic twist, the tracks that in real life appear to be regularly used are actually the ones that on my layout are just scenic accents. I added spots of grass here and there, but never tried for the green carpet effect. 

After a couple of evening's working on it, I arrived at the pictures above. Nice, but very green. Almost too green. It was prototypical... I have pictures of the yard area just carpeted with grass and weeds... but sometimes we only see certain colors and I wanted to give it a little variety. So, I ordered some brown grass and decided to intersperse it here or there to break up the lush green that I had created. Thinking that nice tall dead weeds would look great, I picked out 12mm stuff. 

I quickly discovered that 12mm is too long for most HO scale applications. Sure, it looks great in ditches or when it is standing perfectly straight, but if it ever leans even just a little bit it looks fake. So, I took an old surplus electric razor and "mowed the lawn" so to speak.

From a distance, the brownish-yellow color did the trick in breaking up all of the green. I just think in the future I will need to order it in 4mm and 6mm lengths to get the effect I want. It reminds me a comment my wife said recently when looking over the layout: "I like how you did the static grass. I didn't think I would like it because it always looks fake on other layouts." I think she means that many layouts use grass that is too long, so that you have lots of patches of weeds that are much too tall to be realistic.

I also used a couple of types of static grass "clumps," focusing mostly on building and detail foundations where maneuvering the static grass machine would be difficult. They were convenient, though again I need to figure out the best selection of colors.

All in all though, I am pretty happy with how this first scene turned out. I plan to add a bit more to it, and a couple of things were ordered from Scenic Express, but compared to my pictures showing just ground foam and ballast it certainly looks closer to what I envision in my head.

And the green grass grew all around, all around, and the green grass grew all around...

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