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MichaelW

Static Grass Tips and Techniques

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Hi all,

 

I've recently acquired myself a static grass applicator, and a range of static grass to use with it, but I have no idea what I need to do to create the various effects I see on the best layouts on here. Anyone care to share some hints and tips?

 

I'm currently looking at wanting to produce grazed fields and unkempt railway embankments, so any suggestions you can offer would be gratefully welcomed!

 

Thanks,

 

Michael

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Hi all,

 

I've recently acquired myself a static grass applicator, and a range of static grass to use with it, but I have no idea what I need to do to create the various effects I see on the best layouts on here. Anyone care to share some hints and tips?

 

I'm currently looking at wanting to produce grazed fields and unkempt railway embankments, so any suggestions you can offer would be gratefully welcomed!

 

Thanks,

 

Michael

Hi Michael, For grazed fields it depends what time of year, spring tends to be light green , summer rich green etc...

To be honest I find the best results are to mix and match different shades and different lengths...Look at even grazed fields and the grass is all of a different height...I've had good results doing it like this....

For railway embankments, I tend to model LONG straw/ burnt grass colour....

Mike, it's best to have a go on some thin plasticard and experiment ...Coat the piece with the glue ,mix the grass and attach the clip to the plasticard and shake away!!!!!! Lol.You can also add the various types of fine to medium flock to also enhance the embankment....

Happy Modelling.

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Hi Michael, For grazed fields it depends what time of year, spring tends to be light green , summer rich green etc...

To be honest I find the best results are to mix and match different shades and different lengths...Look at even grazed fields and the grass is all of a different height...I've had good results doing it like this....

For railway embankments, I tend to model LONG straw/ burnt grass colour....

Mike, it's best to have a go on some thin plasticard and experiment ...Coat the piece with the glue ,mix the grass and attach the clip to the plasticard and shake away!!!!!! Lol.You can also add the various types of fine to medium flock to also enhance the embankment....

Happy Modelling.

Agree with the above,good results use good mixs of shades,and lengths of static grass!! we did this on Banks road,with good results....
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Colour: I must disagree with D421, grass is greenest in the spring and fades through the year. When I was younger, some of my landscape pictures taken in spring have shown such a virulent green I have thought my camera or the printer was on the blink. Not so...

 

The longer the grass, generally the paler - hence railway embankments (and cuttings) should have a very parched look. If you look at such areas, the ground cover is fairly green, where the short grass and plants (weeds?) are and the taller stems are straw-like in colour. I would suggest using a mix based primarily on a straw shade of longer grass (with some pale green long grass to add variety) and a shorter blend of palish green. After you've used your applicator, sprinkle some scatter (Woodland green grass (or blend) and/or Javis Heath green) in between the fibres, some will stick and create the impression of weeds. If you are showing a flower meadow, when the main coat is dry, a light dusting with hairspray and sprinkling a mix of colourful scatter (preferably when the scene is turned vertically - I know, not always possible...) can be very effective.

 

To make the applicator work best, the crocodile clip needs to be in contact with the glue (which must be electrically conductive, such as GreenScene's glue or Noch's, ordinary PVA just doesn't work).

 

You don't say what scale you're modelling in or which season. Below is a comparison chart I've done, it's a little out of date but should give you an idea how much variation is available.

post-16840-0-48877100-1352927984_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the replies guys...

 

D421, I agree with the experimental approach - I just didn't have a clue where to start and hoped to glean some experience to push me in the right direction. I'll try a few mixes and see what I get.

 

White Rabbit, couple of good tips in there, the instructions with the applicator don't mention conductiveness of the glue, and I hadn't thought that one through... Thanks for the colour chart, I've only got a few spring and summer mixes to play with so far.

 

I also note you mention mixing static grass with other flock - would you always do the static grass first?

 

Scale-wise, I model in N and 4mm narrow gauge, and hadn't actually thought as far as what season. Probably late summer for the 4mm stuff I think.

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An experiment is always useful, just to get you used to using the applicator. I used a scrap piece of timber and a thin slice of polystyrene coated in GreenScene's Yard Filth paint, together with a few odds from my scrap box. The main reason for the polystyrene is to have something to push a pin into - I have used both Noch & GreenScene's applicators and have a brass (electrically conductive) pin which I push into the area to be covered. (After I've spread the glue).

post-16840-0-20776700-1352973915_thumb.jpg

This is one from the workbench. As you can see, where the glued area ends, the grass fibres lean over or are horizontal - sometimes you might want this effect, if not, use a piece of scrap placed close to the ground to stop the fibres leaning. You could use balsa, plastic or maybe even thick string. With this, I wasn't bothered, as it's only a quick diorama to test an idea and provide a talking point at exhibitions, but if you're wanting to be more precise, it's useful to make more preparations.

 

Yes, I'd always put the grass fibres down first. And apply other scatter by hand separately. This will fall between the stalks and some will stick. If you use a fine scatter such as Javis or Woodland fine, these reaches parts other scatters don't... Once the first coat's dry, you could always add detail using larger grade scatter. Again, it's trial and error to find what works best for you.

 

For a late summer layout, I'd suggest using faded and parched colours but with a mix of shades. I'm working on a blend at the moment which I will probably call 'Laneside Verge', this is primarily a mix of straw and meadow green, to represent the long grass by the side of country lanes in summer (as summers used to be, not this last one!).

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That's a useful comparison chart White Rabbit. I just bought some 'grass' from Realistic Modelling Supplies at Tolworth show. I've been using the 'straw' colours which seem to come up well. Also his prices are about half of Noch. Similarly he has tufts, of which I've bought 2 shades but not yet used - again about half the price of Noch. No relationship - just a satisfied customer.

 

 

http://realisticmodelling.com/catalog.asp?subrange=Accessories

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I was interested to see White Rabbit mention that the glue should be conductive. As It's difficult to get glue posted to Africa, can anyone suggest a way of making ordinary PVA glue conductive?

 

I immediately thought of adding metal filings to the glue but that's probably a silly idea!

 

I have used ordinary PVA glue with a flyswatter static grass applicator with reasonable success but I have been looking for ways to improve the results.

 

Regards

 

Veronica.

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Hi Mate...

 

Great work going on here mate, grass looks really good and alive...

 

Jamie

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I too would be interested in more information regarding the conductivity requirements of the glue, this is the first I have heard of this, but may be why my static applicator seems not to really work.

 

Edit:

 

The old applicator didn't work as it was faulty. Made a new one with a new fly swat and that works really well, using just plain old watered down PVA.

Edited by Campaman
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I have been told that it's potassium in the glue which makes it electrically conductive - but I can't say for sure, I was always poor at chemistry... and I have no idea how to mix the two or even if it's safe to do so without protective gear. I suspect someone on here will know though.

 

Whatever the reason, I know that modellers that have used PVA haven't always had great results. Before I bought an applicator, I used Noch's puffer bottle and Woodland Scenics' scenic glue - which is a concentrated PVA type - and that came out alright using short 2-3mm fibres. (Though an electrical applicator is better). Generally, the longer the fibre, the more electrical 'umph' you need. In my experience, GreenScene's is the most powerful but Noch's isn't far behind. You can only really tell the difference when you get up to XL (10-12mm) fibres and even then you need to look closely.

 

Going back a few posts, here's another comparison, this time of Heki strips & tufts:

 

left-right: spring, summer, autumn 5-6mm; XL spring, summer, autumn 10mm; XL coloured

post-16840-0-32717800-1352993324_thumb.jpg

Joe there is a 4mm figure (not a 1:87 Preiser) and the tuppence also adds scale.

 

One problem with Noch fibres is they tend to be supplied in large bags. That's fine if you're in a club or have the loft to play with, but for those with small layouts, it's a downside. Piece of trivia for you - the largest size bag Noch produce fibres in is a 20 kg bag - 1000 times the size of most packs. Even when you're in the trade and mix up your own 'cocktails' that's too big!

Edited by The White Rabbit
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I think you'll find that many of the 'specialised' commercial scenery glues are little more than dilute PVA. Certainly, the usual builders' quality PVA is a bit too thick for static grass and needs diluting with water. Another issue is that many of the available types tends to dry glossy, particularly if undiluted. I dilute it anywhere between 1:1 and 5:1 with tap water and mix in a dollop of acrylic matt medium. At 10kV and above pretty much anything is an adequate conductor, especially if damp.

 

Nick

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That's a nice model, particularly with the mix of heights and 'other' vegetation. Do you use the Treemendus earth or something else?

 

I've never had much of a problem with a gloss 'finish', when spreading the glue I use a finger dipped in dilute brown paint to help spread it (effectively diluting & colouring it a little but the GreenScene glue is so 'gloopy' I reckon it can stand a little dilution). I get more reflection off some types of fibre, particularly in artificial light.

 

Yes, quite a few 'specialist' scenic glues are diluted PVA and I wouldn't use them - Woodland's S190 is an exception. I've always had good results from it.

 

Re PVA vs electrically conductive glue, if Giles and Nick have used PVA without problems, great, I'd really have to be nit-picking to try and fault Giles' work above. But I'd use the conductive glue and have had an awful lot of people say to me at exhibitions that they've used PVA and it hasn't worked well for them. Some come back later and say they tried the conductive glue and had better results. Perhaps you could name particular brands of PVA and we could give them a try?

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Currently I'm using "Cementone Rendabond PVA" by Bostik, a 2.5litre plastic can from B&Q, though I've used other similar products from different sources before. Adding some paint may well be enough to avoid any glossy effect, the matt medium is effectively just colourless matt paint. As you say, though, there are some types of fibre that are horribly reflective, some look more like a nylon wig.

 

Nick

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That's a nice model, particularly with the mix of heights and 'other' vegetation. Do you use the Treemendus earth or something else?

 

I've never had much of a problem with a gloss 'finish', when spreading the glue I use a finger dipped in dilute brown paint to help spread it (effectively diluting & colouring it a little but the GreenScene glue is so 'gloopy' I reckon it can stand a little dilution). I get more reflection off some types of fibre, particularly in artificial light.

 

Yes, quite a few 'specialist' scenic glues are diluted PVA and I wouldn't use them - Woodland's S190 is an exception. I've always had good results from it.

 

Re PVA vs electrically conductive glue, if Giles and Nick have used PVA without problems, great, I'd really have to be nit-picking to try and fault Giles' work above. But I'd use the conductive glue and have had an awful lot of people say to me at exhibitions that they've used PVA and it hasn't worked well for them. Some come back later and say they tried the conductive glue and had better results. Perhaps you could name particular brands of PVA and we could give them a try?

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I have done a google search for conductive glue and found some references to it but the glue they mention is used for printed circuit boards. There is however a reference to graphite as an ingredient, that is easily obtained so I will try adding some to my PVA mix next time I'm doing static grass. It will be interesting to see if it makes any difference to the result.

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Again, thanks for all the replies.

 

White Rabbit - your example piece is just the thing I was thinking of for the narrow-gauge layout. I like the bend in the fence where Daisy's been trying to get at the greener bits on the other side. If you wait for the first coat to dry before adding more scatter, how do you fix the extra scatter without coating everything with glue?

 

Giles - Your example looks really good, I hope I can get close to that when I get going. How did you do the thistle(?) by the water course?

 

Re the conductive glue - I'm sure I read somewhere (I think in an article about outdoor railways) that tap water tends to be more conductive than rain-water, sufficiently so that tap water (from a hose-pipe) on track causes a short circuit but not rainwater. If you water down the PVA, this could be enough to make it conductive.

 

I must have a go at a trial piece...

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I've also noticed that grass fibers can be a little reflective and shiny. I also find some of the colours used, and also those on scenic scatters, to be a bit vivid. The solution i used on Treneglos was to give everything a light mist with some light grey spray paint. This knocked everything back and killed the gloss effect.

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Ive used the static grass "glue" i got with the machine,seems to work treat on Banks road.Have same results as the above picture off Giles... :no:

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I spoke to a friend who is an electronics fundi, he suggested using a salt water solution to thin down the PVA mix as salt water is more conductive than ordinary water. He didn't think the graphite would work well as a lot would be needed to make any sort of difference.

 

He also said that it is important to check that the track pin or whatever you push into the glue doesn't have some sort of coating on it which makes it less conductive.

 

Another idea was to beef up the power output of the flyswatter by wiring up a power supply from another flyswatter in series with the existing one. This needs to be done with care and only if you know what you are doing.

 

Regards

 

Veronica.

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I use a realy sharp pointed screwdriver,realy conducts well when static grassing ..... :no: Ile give the salt water PVA a try sounds interesting....

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Hi All

 

Some great Tips on this Thread, can't wait to get to my flocking stage just so I can try all these Hints 'n' Tips out...

 

Thanks for Starting the Thread and all who have chipped in with their own idea's, thought and Tried 'n' Tested methods...

 

Jamie

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I make no apologies for reviving an old thread, because one this useful deserves being given a bump to bring it to the attention of those who might not have seen it before.

 

The question I've got that prompted the revival is to ask what others do when trying to apply static grass when in close proximity to things like backscenes, bridge abutments, retaining walls and the like because I've found I simply cannot get the applicator close enough to where I want it to go to do a good job. 

So far, the best results I've had have involved chucking a generous pinch of "grass" at the glue then waving the charged applicator as close to the scene of the action as I can get it in the hope of getting the threads to stand on end  The results have, at best, been no more than okay, and never good enough to get away without introducing some kind of scenic break (a fence, a bush, a clump of weeds or undergrowth) between them and the areas where the applicator could be wielded the way the manufacturer intended.

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