Thursday, September 03, 2009

Moana 3: Going Green

DB says: Going green seems to be the trendy thing to do these days, so today I'll put some green on top of the white and pink lakescape of Moana. But first, let's deal to those pesky backdrops. I purchased a kiddies paint set and started mixing up dark greens to cover the red or yellow tints. If you're a bumbling idiot like me and have ever tried mixing paints to get an exact match, you'll know its a pretty hopeless task - even getting paint mixed at a proper paint shop with a photospectrometer can be touch and go. That's why car painters invented panel joins and blending airbrushes. Just when all seemed lost, the day was saved by a thin wash of black on the photo printed hills, which to my surprise, toned down the tints quite well. I managed to have more success as a mixmaster on the lake, where I was able to concoct credible combinations of cyan, blue, purple, white and black to represent the watery shades. All washed on thinly with some water so as not to obscure all the detail. And gently of course, as I didn't want to upset my cheap and nasty matte photopaper 'canvas'.
I also touched up a habndful of joins where the pages of hills didn't quite match particularly at the northeast corner of the layout (below) where I had borrowed a hill (from the middle of the real lake) to be the right hand end of the backdrop. This didn't match up well colourwise, but a wash of black on the bright bits and daubbling in some trees and such across the join, blended it reasonably well. The train will disappear under the pedestrian overbridge here and vanish into the staging yard. This photo sponsored by the healthy delights manufactured by the Coca Cola Chemical Corporation.
As can be seen from the second image in this post (a couple above), I'd previously undercoated most of the plaster hills a browny shade, especially on the sloped bits, as I don't want pure white plaster showing through any holes in the scenery. I used spray paint a few years back, but it's just as fast, cheaper, more environmentally friendly (after all, this is a 'green' post!) and less mind-altering to use some brown, black or grey acrylic paint and a big old brush. A little water helps the paint find all the nooks and crannies, and makes it go further.

On top of this, PVA is brushed on and some sort of 'base' layer is added. I mainly use Woodland Scenics fine turf mixed in with other things (more on that in a sec) for this. I think with all scenery, it's important to provide 3D 'layers' and mix things up with different colours, shades and textures, just like they did when they built the real planet. I lay newspaper on the floor under the layout at this stage and anything (anything) that falls onto it is dumped into a bag and used on future projects - its gives a nice varied base. In the cutting there are some small stones and even some coal chunks, but you'll not notice them on the finished layout unless you get your magnifying glass out. Normally I'd brush some plaster on the cutting's faces for texture, but on the Coast, cuttings seem to grow over pretty quickly with green things, so I didn't bother.
This base is covered with diluted PVA that is either sprayed or dribbled on, depending on the terrain. As you probably well-know, on steep slopes, dribbling the glue on leaves you with scenery snowballs running down the hills. So you can spray a mix of 'wet' water or alcohol on and then dribble, but I say: why not just brush on PVA, apply the scenery and then spray on the 'wet' glue. 'Wet' meaning with a little liquid soap/detergent or something in it to break the surface tension of the water which helps it soak in, rather than blobbing up on the surface.

Then its Tree Time, (the next layer). I saved a lot of trees from the Tehachapi layout, and these two particularly odd Busch specimens were installed across the tracks from each other first (above) so I could then hide them. They were blended (again above) with some of that ugly rubberised lichen (remember when that was all the rage in model scenery thirty years ago? Well, I still have half a bag left), and 'clump foliage'. After rubber lichen was cool, along came ground foam, and then those mats of foliage that you can tease out. Around that time, clump foliage was hip too, and I'm a huge fan of it in the 'burnt grass' colour. Now, fast forward to the new millenium, and Fine Leaf Foliage in 'dead' and 'light green' is the must have item. I love these wee trees, as they really make things see-through and three dimensional.
Planting is occurring above - a hole is punched in the scenery with a dental prodder and PVA then applied to the trunk. I sometimes use fine pliers to plant the tree if its a tricky to access spot, but you have to be careful as the trunks are fragile. Don't remove the holemaker until you're ready to plant, or you'll never find the hole again. Interestingly, all the trees in this blog post came off the Tehachapi layout, as did all the clump foliage, which in turn came off my old 3x6 foot NZ120 layout and a Wellington layout before that. No point in throwing these things away...
So that's the southwest corner completed, and now the swamp is being tackled (above) by recycling some of the deserty scenes off the Tehachapi layout (I really had no idea why I saved these patches until today). They are being held down as they're glued into the swampy area, and I think I might just get away with it with a few flaxes and cabbage trees added later...
Ta-da. When the white blobs on those trees dry, that will be two thirds of an 8 foot long module quickly and easily scenicked in less than three hours of elapsed time. And almost all of the scenery was recycled and reused from old layouts. Truly going green.


Andrew Hamblyn said...

Woohoo!! Awsome!

That is looking great DB, well done.


ECMT said...

I don't know if this product would be handy for the swamp area, but worth checking out :

sxytrain said...

Well done. Easy instruction so all the nz120 modelers can get started on their layouts. (Hint to everyone). Looks very effective, and the backdrops finish the 'look'.

Darryl said...

Thanks for the pot-topper idea. I'll have a look for these at a craft store. I just received some Silflor stufff so will report on the success or otherwise shortly.