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Desert Ground Cover

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  • Member since
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  • From: Seaford, Va.
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Desert Ground Cover
Posted by wblock on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:09 PM

   I'm kind of a novice at this and was wondering if someone might know of some good articles or general information about creating desert ground cover and scenery?

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Posted by tangerine-jack on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:22 PM

 

Sure do.  But it depends on what desert you are modeling.  All deserts are not the same, in the US there are 5 major desert regions that are distinctly different from each other in geography and flora.  Deserts are seldom without any plants, in fact, most abound in plant life.  Depending on the region you model use the following:

Sagebrush and tumbleweed: dried lychen dyed or painted to green/brown for live plants and dull beige for dead.

Cactus: carved balsa for large cactii, painted watermellon seeds for smaller

Josua trees and other large bush/shrubs:  use twisted wire, soldered and painted.  wrap ends in tape to make a knob and dip the knob in fine ground foam appropriate to the season: eg: red for spring blossoms, green for early summer, brown for late summer/ winter

Other life forms:  use individual strand wires in a bunch, paint brown, dip in glue and sprinkle with ground foam.  makes a plant I think called an "occadillo" or something similar- grows around 15ft high.

Many other ideas, but it all depends as I said on the region of desert.  Ground cover can be simple paint with sand sprinkle, or maybe you will need lots of rock molds.  It all depends, but you get the idea.

The Dixie D Short Line "Lux Lucet In Tenebris Nihil Igitur Mors Est Ad Nos 2001"

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Posted by GAPPLEG on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 6:23 PM

Your really into a can of worms on this one, I model the desert southwest. You really need to decide where in the desert your modeling, the areas are very different from each other, in 100 miles you can go from flat sand to dunes to ground almost completely covered with sage and such. The area I model is the area where I grew up in far west Texas and southern New Mexico, I found some great colored play sand that really reminded me of the sand around that area, from there you need to really add lots of bushes , creasote , sage , yucca etc. If your doing Arizona look up Arizona highways magazine online or at a library, great pixs. Pele Soeberg of Denmark has a book with great photos of his desert layout, he has done an outstanding job of capturing the desert flavor. Ask more questions and tell me where you want to set your railroad and I'll try to help.

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Posted by subwayaz1 on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 8:04 PM

some nice advice there that I never thought of and I model the Southwestern Desert. thanks for sahring your knowledge

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Posted by Ray Dunakin on Wednesday, October 29, 2008 10:29 PM
When I was doing HO scenery back in the 80's, I used dry, dead stalks of some wild flowers that grow like weeds around here. I think they're called yarrow or anise. Anyway, I used them to make small desert shrubs. Spray 'em with diluted glue, then sprinkle on some ground foam in appropriate colors. Then snip the heads off the main stalk and glue them in place. .... . I used dead alyssum flowers to make agave stalks. Trim off the lower "branches" and glue yellow ground foam to the tips of the branches at the top to make the blossom. The base of the agave was made from some kind of tiny dried flower I got from a craft store. ... . I painted dried pussywillows a greenish color to make barrel cactus. ... . Various twigs and such can be used to make cholla cactus. . . . . The main thing is to look at the kinds of plants that are typical for the area you are modeling, then look for things that can be used to simulate the appearance of those plants in miniature. . . . . Now that I'm modeling a large scale, outdoor layout, I'm still making desert plants but now I have to use completely different materials. Can't use anything natural or it'll rot, so I'm using a lot of plastic flowers to make sagebrush, cacti, etc. To give things a rough or prickly texture, I use sand instead of ground foam. I use tgreen plastic grit from Plastruct to simulate small leaves. . . . .
Visit www.raydunakin.com to see pics of the rugged and rocky In-ko-pah Railroad!
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Posted by wblock on Thursday, October 30, 2008 7:09 AM

   I should have mentioned that I am modeling the Sonoran desert in Southern Arizona.

Thanks for all the advice. 

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Posted by hminky on Thursday, October 30, 2008 7:17 AM

 I use faux fur for sage brush:

http://www.pacificcoastairlinerr.com/brush/

 

Thank you if you visit

Harold

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  • From: Sierra Vista, Arizona
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Posted by cacole on Thursday, October 30, 2008 7:23 AM

It would help if you fill out your profile data so we know where you are located, because native plants in your area may be suitable for some of it.

I have a distinct advantage here because I live in the Sonoran desert area of southeast Arizona, and there are many plants and natural dirt than can be used. 

There have been a couple of articles over the past year or two in Model Railroader on how to simulate desert terrain, but I know of no specific book or article on the subject and I don't keep back issues.

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Posted by NevinW on Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:41 AM
I use tailings from Virginia City mines as my primary desert ground cover. I also have some I collected from mines around Goldfield. It is very fine and powdery, has little or no organic materials in it, glues down well and looks good with various small shrubs. Gluing down a layer of tailings and then painting it with a tan latex paint gives a nice dried lake bed effect. - Nevin
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Posted by ARTHILL on Thursday, October 30, 2008 8:51 AM

Good advice so far. I struggled with the Saguaro Cactus for a long time. I finaly discovered that I could make OK  models using the plastic clay material like Fimo. It takes a while but looks better than the commercial models and costs WAY less.

If you think you have it right, your standards are too low. my photos http://s12.photobucket.com/albums/a235/ARTHILL/ Art
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Posted by lvanhen on Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:40 AM

Many years ago, Disney made a movie, I believe it was "The Painted Desert", that depicted the Sonaran desert.  No modeling tips, but beautiful photography showing all the seasons.  You should be able to rent it, and get some good ideas from it.  Smile

Lou V H Photo by John
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Posted by tstage on Thursday, October 30, 2008 10:56 AM

wblock,

Pelle Soeberg has a very nice book available on this very topic called Mountain to Desert: Building the HO Scale Daneville & Donner River.  Here's a picture from the book to give you an idea what's in it:

Pelle is a graphic artist by trade and does some VERY nice and realistic modeling.  I think it would be a terrific resource for your library.

Hope that helps...

Tom

My web site: http://www.newyorkcentralmodeling.com

Time...It marches on...without ever turning around to see if anyone is even keeping in step.

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Posted by Geared Steam on Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:29 AM

wblock

   I'm kind of a novice at this and was wondering if someone might know of some good articles or general information about creating desert ground cover and scenery?

Scenery Express is coming out with desert foliage in O scale, some can be used in any scale but if not keep an eye out for HO or N scale "Southwest Desert Series".

http://www.sceneryexpress.com/default.asp 

 

GS

 Geared Steam's Blog

Railroads West, Always the Best

"MRH Elitist"?? Laugh


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Posted by cacole on Thursday, October 30, 2008 6:46 PM

Excuse me, but the Painted Desert in the far northeastern corner of Arizona is not within the Sonoran Desert, which is in the southeastern corner.  It gets the Sonoran Desert name from Sonora, Mexico, which is the Mexican state across the southeastern border of Arizona.  Saguaro grow within the Sonoran Desert, but the Painted Desert is totally different terrain and has very little vegetation.

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Posted by lvanhen on Thursday, October 30, 2008 7:46 PM

cacole

Excuse me, but the Painted Desert in the far northeastern corner of Arizona is not within the Sonoran Desert, which is in the southeastern corner.  It gets the Sonoran Desert name from Sonora, Mexico, which is the Mexican state across the southeastern border of Arizona.  Saguaro grow within the Sonoran Desert, but the Painted Desert is totally different terrain and has very little vegetation.

OOPS!!  What do you expect a Jersey boy to know about the desert!!  Sorry 'bout that!Dunce

Lou V H Photo by John
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Posted by wblock on Friday, October 31, 2008 7:34 PM

    Thanks for some great suggestions. I'll try to be a little more active here in the future.

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