Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Grass IS Greener!

After I finally got back to the layout, I decided I'd keep the hills for a little while at least, even though I wasn't happy with them.  Every video I saw showed people making nice smooth hills and having no problems getting their Hydrocal-soaked paper towels to lie flat and fairly smooth.  That's not what happened to me.  They looked too craggy and paper folds had created odd shapes, and my attempts to smooth the plaster had only left me with whipped cream-like points that hardened far too quickly.

But instead of tearing them out I made a wash out of Woodland Scenics stone gray coloring and brushed the hills with it.  Immediately, the hills took on a new look and a new life.  They weren't perfect: some areas were lighter than others; some got too dark.  But overall it left me with something to work with.

I started by using earth tone chalks, applying to certain areas that I thought would color nicely. Using a short, stiff brush, I worked in several colors in a number of areas before I realized I could spend a week on just chalking the module, and then when I added ground cover the chalked areas would get covered up..

You may notice something in the photos in this posting.  It being the middle of summer with temperatures in the high 80s, low 90s, I switched out my extremely warm halogen lights with two huge curlicue CFL bulbs.  They throw a yellowish light, but they do have a large 4200 lumens each (when compared to other CFL bulbs).  And they throw off very little heat.  Much easier to work in the garage during the summer with those bulbs.  I'll save the halogen for the winter.

So I switched to ground foam.  I used the standard method of spraying Scenic Cement and sprinkling green ground foam onto the hills.  I used a couple of colors, then added bushes a couple of places.  You can see a fair amount of detail in this shot.

In this image (above) you can see the multiple colors of grass.  One section of the hills (the right side) was too steep to take any grass.  This I colored with a couple of chalks.  You also can see the cardboard cutout of the base of a gravel road I'll be adding a little later.  It is crossed by a track (placed only for visualization) that will hold stock cars.

This next photo shows two tunnels: a two-track concrete and stone and a concrete two-lane automobile tunnel.  I used old concrete acrylic for the top portion of the train tunnel and several layers of various colored chalks for the stone portion.  I used concrete acrylic for the auto tunnel.  You can see some areas that need fixing.  There is also a concrete road along the right edge of the photo that crosses the entire width of the module.

This shot shows the other side of the module.  You can see a lot of detail here: the grass, bushes on top of the portal, chalked portions of the hill.  Much more to do, but it's a real good start.

But before I can go any further I have to build a stock yard, which will be on the other side of the switch that you see in the foreground.  It's a complex laser-cut kit that I have to kitbash to get it to look like the stock yard I envision.  So it's going to take some time before my next posting.

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