How To Use Static Grass On A Model Railway Layout

How To Use Static Grass On A Model Railway Layout

Static grass is your secret weapon when it comes to creating Realistically Better scenery for your model railway landscape. It's a material that mimics the look and feel of real grass, and the magic lies in its ability to stand upright, creating a lifelike appearance. Understanding how to use static grass can elevate your model railway to new levels of authenticity.

static grass for model railways & dioramas

Tools & Materials Needed:

  • Static Grass Applicator: Options include professional electronic applicators, puffer bottles, or a tea strainer/sieve. See below for more details on the types of applicators.
  • Static Grass Fibers: Available in various lengths and shades to replicate the diversity of real grass.
  • Base Coat Paints: Earth-coloured or dark green paints to create a realistic foundation.
  • Brushes and Applicators: For applying paints and glue evenly.
  • Static Grass Glue or PVA: Adhesive to secure the grass fibres to the layout.

How To Apply Static Grass

Step 1: Prepare the Base Surface:

Build a solid base for your landscape using materials like foam board, Modroc, or plaster, or for perfectly flat fields & lawns, you can apply it directly to your baseboard.

Step 2: Paint the Base Surface a Natural Colour:
Paint the surface with earth-coloured or dark green paint. Some prefer brown for a more earthy look, especially helpful for disguising thinly covered areas.

Step 3: Spread Static Grass Glue or PVA:

Use a brush or spatula to evenly spread static grass glue or PVA over the painted surface. This creates a secure foundation for the grass fibres to adhere to.

Step 4: Apply The Static Grass:

Load your chosen applicator with static grass fibres. They do tend to naturally clump together in the packet, so it's worth spending a bit of time loosening them before filling your applicator. Use a fork, or coarse sieve to free up the fibres.

Hold the applicator close to the surface, and as the fibres are released, the static charge makes them stand upright, resembling real grass.

Types of Static Grass Applicators:

There are several choices when it comes to static grass applicators. From professional through to low-cost budget versions and even simple puffer bottles. And of course, if you're that way inclined, and enjoy electric shocks, you can always make your own from a flyswatter and a tea strainer!

Professional Electronic Static Grass Applicators:

  • Ideal for achieving the most realistic results.
  • Provide precise control over grass length and distribution.

Puffer/Shaker Bottles:

  • Good for achieving realistic effects.
  • Offers a more budget-friendly option compared to electronic applicators.

Tea Strainer or Sieve:

  • Suited for short fibres (2mm or less).
  • Budget-friendly but limited in versatility.

Homemade Static Grass Applicators:

  • Budget-friendly & can achieve satisfactory results
  • Can be painful to use due to static shocks!

Achieving Realism with Static Grass:

Static grass is the most effective way of creating realistic fields, verges, embankments & lawns, but there are a few, simple techniques that can help you achieve even more realism, without having to master any complicated techniques.

Mixing Shades and Lengths:

Experiment with different shades and lengths of static grass fibres on your model railway to create a natural, textured look. Mimicking the variety found in real grass for a more authentic appearance. Unless you're modelling formal lawns & gardens, bowling greens & cricket pitches, or fields that have been evenly stripped by livestock, you're going to need a variety of lengths and shades of grass.

Pay attention to grass verges, fields, and moorland… look at how tufts of grass form… look at the colours too. Shorter grasses tend to be greener and more vibrant. Longer grasses have a darker, more mature green appearance. And then longer grasses, particularly at the end of summer tend to be dry and have a straw like, yellow appearance.

Static grass can be easily layered on your model railway to create some fantastically textured scenes using nothing more than a little extra-hold hairspray! 

By understanding the basics of static grass application and experimenting with different techniques and tools, you'll transform your model railway into a miniature world bursting with lifelike landscapes.

Happy modelling!

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