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Snow options

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Snow options
Posted by speedybee on Thursday, November 18, 2021 9:58 AM

Hey all. I'm thinking of building a winter theme portable module and thinking about how to cover the layout in snow. I've tried various combinations involving white paint, white grout, and climber's chalk, but results have been unsatisfactory.

So then I was looking at products like WS snow, Buffalo extra fine snow flurries, and extra fine white craft glitter. I was thinking I'd try coating the layout surface in flat white paint and then sprinkling these products on top so that they stick to the wet paint, then shake off excess, like how one applies ground foam.

But before I go buying multiple bags of microplastics that may just end up in the landfill, does anyone have experience to share about making good looking permanent snow? I mention "permanent" because stuff in the pantry like flour or cornstarch might make great looking snow but do such things eventually get eaten by bugs/microorganisms?

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Posted by gmpullman on Thursday, November 18, 2021 10:08 AM

Maybe?

 Flakes by Edmund, on Flickr

Well, it IS fireproof Whistling

     — on the other hand...

Good Luck, Ed

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Posted by speedybee on Thursday, November 18, 2021 10:15 AM

I'll keep it in mind as an option, but it'd better look really good to be worth all the mesothelioma

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Posted by Aralai on Thursday, November 18, 2021 10:40 AM

Way back in the 1970's I used white laundry detergent as snow on my layout. It wasn't a great idea - didn't react really well with stuff, especially the metal rails. It looked really cool though.

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Posted by NorthBrit on Thursday, November 18, 2021 11:07 AM

I suppose it depends on how much 'snow' you want.   

I first tried layers of cotton wool,  but as it was a City scene it was unsuccessful.

I went next for a 'light dusting'  using talcum powder.  That was over a year ago.  That is where I am now.   (Hopefully)  giving a Wintry feel to Leeds Sovereign Street Station.

 

 

David

 

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Posted by wjstix on Thursday, November 18, 2021 1:25 PM

Bill Alexander (the TV painter before the bearded puff-ball hair guy) used to say "you've got to have dark to show light". I think white snow on white paint wouldn't look great. I do 'regular' scenery - black or brown paint with yellow & green grass, then add snow over it.

Stix
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Posted by speedybee on Thursday, November 18, 2021 1:57 PM

NorthBrit
I suppose it depends on how much 'snow' you want

A good point. I am going for full snow coverage; no grass or whatever visible through the snow. Hence my inclination to use white paint; the paint isn't supposed to look like snow itself, it's just providing a uniform underneath colour and providing a glue for the real snow to stick to. Deep snow is very bright white. The goal is a snow that looks something like this: 

https://hips.hearstapps.com/hmg-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/images/winter-landscape-in-tyrol-austria-royalty-free-image-1575038894.jpg

Your scene looks great, by the way

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Posted by Water Level Route on Thursday, November 18, 2021 2:45 PM

I remember reading years ago about a fellow using white marble dust.  Permanent and sparkly.  I don't recall a photo so can't comment on how effective it was.

Mike

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Posted by selector on Thursday, November 18, 2021 2:50 PM

Plain WS 'Snow', which I have used now on three layouts.

You can just keeping pouring and layering it until it suits your expectations.  Later, if you wish to remove it, simply vaccum it up.  I would do that using a clean hand-held vacuum 'dust buster', and collect the material to re-use it later.  You can always cover up any 'grit' with another fine layer of unused stuff.

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Posted by John-NYBW on Thursday, November 18, 2021 3:40 PM

For at least ten years I have been planning a little 4x8 Christmas layout. Nothing fancy. Just an oval of track and one or two sidings and maybe a spur for interest. A two sided backdrop would divide the layout in two with a New England town on one side and a rural setting on the other. Because progression on my big layout has been so slow, I've just never gotten around to it but maybe, someday. I want it to have lots of snow so I will be paying close attention to this thread. 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Thursday, November 18, 2021 4:15 PM

My favorite has been the "snow" marketed by Citadel Modeling.

I have used it for photographing staged small winter scenes. However, doing a larger area with it would be EXPENSIVE!

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by speedybee on Thursday, November 18, 2021 8:40 PM

Thanks for all the opinions guys. That WS snow looks really good. My calculations indicate that a shaker bottle ought to give me over 1mm coverage on the entire module, which may be enough to give the impression of very deep snow, I'll see how it looks on a small patch

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Posted by xdford on Thursday, November 18, 2021 9:02 PM

I don't have a "snowfield" as such but I have areas of snow melt which I made with white wrapping foam from some furniture stuff we bought.  It could probably be used over your scene glued down in sheets. My snow melt areas are in patches and look as I remember seeing it after two summers in New Zealand. The reflective aspect of the material looks like glistening snow I remember from Canada.

Good Luck and hope this helps

Trevor

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, November 18, 2021 10:26 PM

speedybee
winter theme portable module

I'm afraid that my opinion would be that no matter what you end up using the end result would be that it would look good initially, but after being moved around and jostled a couple of times maybe not so much.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Friday, November 19, 2021 8:00 AM

Real snow undisturbed and that has gone through a few sunny days should look like it has a hard and smooth surface with quite a bit of sparkle.

Most scenic snow is too soft and fluffy to reproduce the real effect of a semi permanently snow covered scene but looks more authentic to viewers unfamiliar with the real thing.

I have not tried to create the effect but definitely a smooth surface painted with flat  bright white ceiling paint would look more like the real thing than snowflakes in a can. To reproduce the realistic glittering would possibly involve very small flakes of silvery glitter which I am led to believe is available at makeup counters. Very very small amounts could be sprinkled onto the paint and secured with some sort of matt medium. It's hard to describe but undisturbed snow twinkles a bit like tiny stars are embedded in the surface.

More important and much harder to do will be the disturbed and dirtied snow along the track and between the rails as well as anywhere vehicles or people have been.

For my money I'd model a late Spring or early winter scene where the snow has already melted away from the tracks and ballast as well as off all the roads. That should be much easier. Freshly fallen snow still sparkles in the sunlight but less so than snow several days old. The sparkle effect is developed sooner in early and late season.

Alyth Yard

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Posted by NVSRR on Friday, November 19, 2021 8:50 AM

Somewhere back in the 2000's. There was a series of articles in MR on making snow scenes And ice and melted snow.   The cover pic was DRGW sd40-2t at moffet tunnel.   If I remember right. It is also on of Allen Keller videos he did of the same layout.     Also Kathy millet has snow modeling vids

 

shane

A pessimist sees a dark tunnel

An optimist sees the light at the end of the tunnel

A realist sees a frieght train

An engineer sees three idiots standing on the tracks stairing blankly in space

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Posted by speedybee on Friday, November 19, 2021 10:14 AM

Lastspikemike
To reproduce the realistic glittering would possibly involve very small flakes of silvery glitter which I am led to believe is available at makeup counters.

Good suggestion thank you. I have looked at glitter in craft stores but even the "extra fine" grade appear bigger than I think would be optimal. I never would've thought about the glitter used in makeup.

While in the craft store I looked at the Buffalo snow brand and I think it's no good for our purposes. It appears to be tiny plastic hairs. I'm sure it's fine for most general purpose Christmas crafts but I don't want my snow field to look hairy.

For those with experience with WS snow, how big are the particles? Say compared to ultra fine particles like cornstarch/flour/icing sugar vs big particles like fine ballast?

 

edit: geez makeup is expensive

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Posted by snjroy on Friday, November 19, 2021 11:17 AM

SeeYou190

My favorite has been the "snow" marketed by Citadel Modeling.

I have used it for photographing staged small winter scenes. However, doing a larger area with it would be EXPENSIVE!

-Kevin

 

Kevin, that is very convincing. Dave Frary, in his book, gives a recipe to make snow goop. He also indicates the mix for paint (white, blue and some black, IIRC). I can dig it up if there is interest on these. 

For sure, as a Canadian, I can say that snow can take many appearances in real life. But folks usually prefer the "fluffy" look.

Simon

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Friday, November 19, 2021 11:22 AM

snjroy
Kevin, that is very convincing.<SNIP> Folks usually prefer the "fluffy" look.

That is the great feature of the Citadel Modeling snow product, how it naturally makes those "fluffy" looking clumps. That is why I chose it for the Winter scenes I made. They look like a Winter Fantasy with very little effort.

I only used a little bit to build up the foreground snow. The "snow" on the other side of the fence and tracks is just white felt.

Thank you for the kind words.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

If you want to model a Currier & Ives version of snow, pretty much any "snow" product will make the wonderful winterland effect that you need.

If, on the other hand, you really want to model the evils of Winter, the products used by Wargamers and Military Modelers will provide you with everything you need.

As always, I prefer Vallejo, but Secret Weapon Scenics, Turbo Dork, and AK-Interective all make Winter Systems as well.

Vallejo's system for modeling snow includes rough white paste, ground white pumice, transparent water, transparent white, foamy water, icy water, and other effects.

AK-Interactive, as always, has great videos on their site for modeling these awful conditions.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Saturday, November 20, 2021 9:13 AM

As is the case for many modelling situations making things look real depends on the observer's experience. 

Where complete covering of snow is a common occurrence reality doesn't look anything like models of snowy scenes that I've seen. Only places with relatively warm winters get any of that fairy tale fluffy looking snow, and no, it doesn't fall in nice scenic clumps. Proper naturally falling snow forms a smooth surfaced blanket with no lumping. But modelling that in 1/87 would be virtually featureless.

Decide on the look you want and choose the material that gets you that look. 

If you want it to look real in 1/87 scale use flat white paint on smooth plaster. You want a slightly blue bright white, not a yellow or cream tinged white. Daylight fluorescent light is a good indicator of the colour of a blanket of snow a few days old. For snow that is supposed to have been around a while, a real winter setting (as in the mountain photo a scene which I've been in many times though very rarely anywhere near any cabins!), you'll need some form of sparkle, sparingly applied. Around the track areas you'll need to dirty the snow with carbon effects. Diesels and steam locomotives produce a lot of black and grey particulate that settles on the pristine snow in the vicinity of the tracks. No sparkle effect will be needed there. 

Dont forget you'll also need blue grey shadowing wherever the snow is not in the daylight. Drifts are particulary tricky to illustrate. The footprints in the photo show that. My trips were all on skis, boots and snowshoes are way too slow. Plus most of my trips went above tree line where the true colours of snow are most clearly evident. You'd be amazed at the variety of appearance of real snow depending  on age, depth and intervening weather. Dig an avalanche risk analysis pit sometime to get a picture of how this happens. It's an eye opener. Plus when viewing a snowy model you won't be wearing glacier rated sunglasses but humans can't actually look at snow in the bright sunshine without them.

The between and adjoining the rails there will be scraped and smushed snow that will be very hard to do convincingly in my opinion. That's why I'd go either very old spring snow which will all be melted close to tracks and elsewhere would have a fair amount of dirt discolouration or, to better effect,  early fall snow which is nice and clean and white and quickly melts away from any track areas, in order to avoid having to model that troublesome between the rails effect. 

Alyth Yard

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Posted by snjroy on Saturday, November 20, 2021 4:03 PM

Clumps on the side of tracks or a road make sense to me.

Simon

 

 

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Posted by Lastspikemike on Sunday, November 21, 2021 9:08 AM

snjroy

Clumps on the side of tracks or a road make sense to me.

Simon

 

 

 

Snow moved by human activity yes, naturally fallen snow, no.

Realistically modelling ploughed or otherwise disturbed snowfall would be a challenge. Worth doing if you can manage it but not easy. 

An avalanche run out zone will have clumps....some as big as houses. When you try to ski over them it can get interesting...and the snow is so much colder than ambient air if the slide is recent....as in last night or while you were skiing in and now have to ski out. That's another advantage of using skins in preference to wax.

Alyth Yard

Canada

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Sunday, November 21, 2021 9:12 AM

snjroy
Clumps on the side of tracks or a road make sense to me.

They make sense to me too.

After over 40 years of photographing nature as a hobby, I can assure you she follows no man's written rules.

If anyone wants to learn to model winter scenes realistically, the resources are in sites that specialize in military dioramas. Those guys really know how to use the natural elements to bring out the drama in a scene.

I saw this diorama in person at an IPM event. It was astounding.

-  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -  -

Anyway, most model railroaders, myself included, like to model fantasy, whether we admit it or not. My 1954 is a much more wonderful place than the real one.

Same with winter. We (generally) like Bing Crosby White Christmas scenes, not the hell on earth that horrid winter conditions can actually become.

The OP asked about how to model snow, not winter, and I think he got some very helpful responses for his goals. There is realy no point in discussing how realistic winter scenes can be modeled any further.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by Water Level Route on Sunday, November 21, 2021 12:44 PM

Lastspikemike
Actually the OP specifically asked about modelling winter.

No, he stated it.
speedybee
I'm thinking of building a winter theme portable module
And then went on to ask about snow.
speedybee
does anyone have experience to share about making good looking permanent snow?
He even titles his thread "Snow Options"
Lastspikemike
icicles must all be absolutely parallel
Unless there are other factors at play. Notice how some curve slightly away from parallel from the others.  It does happen, although it's not common.  Still, slightly less than perfection can be acceptable for modeling purposes.

Notice how the thickest ones in the center actually curve and not in parallel with the rest.  Other factors at work when those formed.

Mike

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Posted by Track fiddler on Sunday, November 21, 2021 1:38 PM

Man! ...Dem icicles sure are crooked Mike.  Maybe Mother Nature didn't want to follow the Spiker Claus and made it a little vinder outLaugh 

I think icicles can do whatever they want, just as model railroaders can model what ever they wantYes

Things can get a little heavy sometimes and then not very straightLaugh

Especially iciclesWhistling

 

I sure was saddened to hear about Garry.  What a great guy and always so kind.  That beautiful man and top-notch modeler will be missed around here, that's for sure.  My heart goes out to his loved ones

 

 

 

TF

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Posted by richhotrain on Sunday, November 21, 2021 3:30 PM

Water Level Route
 
Lastspikemike
icicles must all be absolutely parallel 

Unless there are other factors at play.

LOL x LOL

Alton Junction

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Posted by 7j43k on Monday, November 22, 2021 10:23 AM

SeeYou190

 

 

 

Not fond of the icicles, especially that one with the blob at the bottom, and the snow on the tank seems kind of grainy.  The foreground snow and branches is just perfection.  

I'm guessing it's 1/72 scale.

 

Ed

 

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Monday, November 22, 2021 10:29 AM

rrebell
You have to remember that the engine was in the back but also since the tanks were not heated, the only heat for the inside was opening an interior service hatch so that could melt some snow if it was not too cold but ussually only near the rear of the crew department.

That armoured fighting vehicle is based on a Soviet T-34 chassis. I don't know all the specifics of T-34 appliances, but the general knowledge of them is that there was not one single part that was optional. I have read war memoirs from Soviet soldiers in tank crews where the conditions inside of a T-34 were always worse than outside.

7j43k
Not fond of the icicles, especially that one with the blob at the bottom, and the snow on the tank seems kind of grainy.  The foreground snow and branches is just perfection.   I'm guessing it's 1/72 scale.

This picture actually shows what is the rear of the diorama. The model is 1/35 scale. There is not much snow on the actual vehicle body. Most of what is there is weathered and worn white-wash winter camoflage paint.

The front of the diorama has the crew outside of the vehicle looking off into the distance. The expressions on their faces tell that they are witnessing something terrible, but cannot get there to help because their vehicle is blocked by a fallen tree.

It is a very powerful scene.

-Kevin

Wink Happily modeling my STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD. A Class A line located in a personal fantasy world of semi-plausible nonsense on Tuesday, August 3rd, 1954.

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Posted by snjroy on Monday, November 22, 2021 11:01 AM

rrebell

Sombody dose not know how snow melts on a tank and it is not the modeler of the scene. The icicle would form flowing in the direction of down which changes depending on location of tank when forming, are they on a downhill slope or an incline, left side in ditch or right, the list is endless. Also the down is not correct realy as it could have formed when the tank was moving. You have to remember that the engine was in the back but also since the tanks were not heated, the only heat for the inside was opening an interior service hatch so that could melt some snow if it was not too cold but ussually only near the rear of the crew department.

 

It is the wind factor that makes the icicles go crooked. 

True, a heat source can lead to icicles. But these can be from multiple sources, including a warm draft or an exposure to sun. In Canada, the February sun is usually sufficient to melt some snow on the south side of the building. When the sun goes down, the water freezes gradually and creates icicles. 

I think the tank scene is perfect. I've seen many icicles form on cars that way.

Simon (who's seen 52 winter seasons in Canada!)

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Posted by 7j43k on Monday, November 22, 2021 11:27 AM

snjroy

I've seen many icicles form on cars that way.

Simon (who's seen 52 winter seasons in Canada!)

 

 

I guess it was too cold to take pictures, then.  I just did a search for "icicles on car", and didn't find anything close.

 

Ed

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