Painting Grass for an RV layout.

Jags Oct 7, 2019

  1. Jags

    Jags New Member

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    New to the forum and finally starting a new project in Z scale after years of purchasing track and rolling stock. Been drawing up various layout plans using CadRail and finally have decided to start with a relatively small plan that I have come up with. The thing is I plan to bring this 4X2.5 foot layout with me in my RV!!!

    Since this will be a layout that needs to be moved and stored vertically in the RV I want to keep it simple and clean by painting all the scenery elements such as dirt, grass, pavement, ballast, etc. and not using any form of "sprinkle on and glue" products. The track will be secured to the board but buildings will be simple placed on the layout when needed and stored in a box with the rolling stock when stored.

    My question is has any one come up with a technique or method to just use paint to create grass, dirt, roadbed, etc.? Any ideas, suggestions and especially photos would be greatly appreciated.

    Below is the layout. Trains run clockwise. This layout allows me to have 8 trains on the board with the ability to run 3 of them at the same time. The layout is currently setup on my living room table in my home and is being tested. (I'm having fun running it!!)

    RV Layout.jpg
     
  2. eaelec

    eaelec TrainBoard Member

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    I have been using this "natural stone" spray paint to paint cork roadbed on a recent project. No chance of glue messing up your switches.

    krylon.png
     
  3. Jags

    Jags New Member

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    Thanks for the reply!! I've been looking at those textured paints and will have to do some experimentation. I'm not planning to use any cork roadbed and will be attaching the track directly to the 1/2 inch foam board. To use spray paint I would have to mask off all the non roadbed areas and the spraying might become a very messy proposition. I was thinking of first painting the entire board with a brownish ground colored paint. I would then use a 1/2 inch brush to paint very thickly the roadbed over the ground colored areas to hopefully give the roadbed some height relief over the ground. Planning to do the same with the "concrete" sidewalk and "asphalt" road areas and then finish with adding the grass paint over the ground where needed. Woodland Scenics has some appropriately colored undercoating and top coat paint for the ground, concrete, and asphalt. I'm wondering if you could spray that textured paint into a small container first and then use a brush to paint it on? Would the "granules" still be correctly distributed? Do you have any photos of your texture spray painted roadbeds? Is in Z scale?

    Get back to me and thanks again!!
     
  4. HOexplorer

    HOexplorer TrainBoard Supporter

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    You could also buy some Woodland Scenics 'Earth and Green' paint and mix the two into a color you want. It won't look phony and should look pretty representative of the real thing.
     
  5. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Another option is "Bachmann Trains Grass Mat".



      • SceneScapes grass mats roll out to create an instant base for landscaping and scenery; reusable and non-shedding with heavy-duty paper backing, these mats are for use with train layouts, model scenes, dioramas, and craft projects
      • 100 inches 50 inches
      • Realistic color
    • Natural texture
    So these grass mats have ground foam bonded to them, not sawdust. They feel soft to the touch, but you can glue down people, structures, and paper roadways to them easily enough. Some people use them for D&D type gaming. I seen them at in use at hobby town, where kids setup their armies of figures and were playing with card on them. Also, some people use them on their slot car racing boards.

     
  6. Jags

    Jags New Member

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    Yes that is the plan to use the "earth" undercoat as the base and then use the "green" to add the grass over the ground. My question is if there are any painting techniques out there that will give that "green" more of a grass look and texture. Also how best to add other green shades to make things look more realistic. Any ideas? Any videos out there to watch?
     
  7. Jags

    Jags New Member

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    I've never liked the look of the "grass mats". It's all too uniform like a football field or golf course. Also is it available correctly scaled to "Z" scale? I would love to see some photos of grass mats used effectively to represent natural grass areas on a layout.
     
  8. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Well, my own opinion is that the mat would look better than just paint, because the plywood grain might show through.

    I myself would still prefer a thin layer of minimal expanding foam lightly buttered on the plywood, texture with cheese grater rasp, then plaster cloth, then ground foam and ballasted track, then static grass, even for a portable RV sized layout. We have hauled out Z Bend Track modules all around for over a decade without damage or particles flying off.

    But since everyone has different ideas, and it's a hobby, there's no right or wrong way, and I am sure that paint can be made to look good. You just got to develop the technique, and play around with it till it feels right. :D
     
    bostonjim likes this.
  9. Jags

    Jags New Member

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    It's good to hear that the more normal scenery techniques can hold up to transport with minimal damage. I didn't expect that but I guess if you get everything glued down really well than things may stay put. I would love to see some photos of your Z scale modules.

    And yes that is the fun of it all. You just have to play around with it till it feels right and works for you!! (y)
     
  10. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    Here is a couple photos of modules that seen 10+ years of bouncing around without more than a broken tree or two, and we have lots of stuff glued down, and have drove the modules to Anaheim and Salt Lake, to Portland, to Sacramento, Medford, and dozens of other places over the years:
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    So the point I want to make is, it is possible to glue down scenery that will survive the road. The trick is to moisten the scenery material with soapy water or alcohol, then drip on a 50/50 mix of white glue and water till it looks saturated like milk was spilled. When dried a few days later, it is hard as cement, yet wetting it will loosent it up again for reworking if you want.
     
  11. Jags

    Jags New Member

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    WOW!! Very Nice!! I don't know if I have the artistic talent to make it all look so real. Like you said earlier, it's a great hobby and we'll see how it will all progress as I go along with the project. Thank you so much!
     
  12. tjdreams

    tjdreams TrainBoard Member

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    Not Z scale but I painted on all the scenery. Water Grass Rocks all done with just paint.
     
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  13. rray

    rray Staff Member

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    There you go, proof that with just paint you can have nice scenery.
     
  14. markm

    markm TrainBoard Supporter

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    On my first Z layout in the late 1980s I used techniques with paint based of the Bob Ross techniques from his PBS instructional programs. At the time I felt the available commercial materials were too course for Z and his layering technique for oil paintings seemed more in scale.

    For grass I started with a base green like David's example. Then using a loose mixture of greens and yellow, tap in color and texture with a brush. I used a 1/2" stencil brush rather than the larger paint brushes. You can add color and get a field of wild flowers. If you use oil colors expect at least a week to dry. For acrylics about half the time.

    For rock faces, I used the pallet knife technique but with tools meant for cake decorations. It's been a long time and I don't know the cost of painters' colors, but they were pricey in 1987. Likewise I'm unsure of the availability or cost of the tools mentioned. I am planning to use these techniques on my new layout.

    Hope this helps,

    Mark
     
    bostonjim likes this.
  15. bostonjim

    bostonjim TrainBoard Member

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    I would use this technique if I was just using paint and no foam, goop, etc...the paint(s) could be painted on in layers as Mark has said and then with a stiff (stencil) brush you can stipple on other colors giving it a textured look. Each coat of paint should be thoroughly dried. You can use the pallet knife to etch additional texture while the paint is fresh. You can also sprinkle a bit of ground foam onto the wet paint for some variety. Jim
     

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