Desert scenery

Hi everyone,
I've been reading up on scenery and have started practicing a bit
(using foam insulation board, covered with plaster cloth and then
covered with ground foam, etc.)
How do I adapt this process to work for desert scenery? Almost
everything I read says to apply 3 colors of turf foam and then trees,
etc.... how do you adapt this to a little-to-none-groundcover and
cactuses?
Any help is appreciated!
Thanks,
Scott
Reply to
Scott
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Carve (knives and wire brush) and paint the foam tan/brown/red as appropriate, skip the plastercloth, and apply ground foam sparingly.
Cacti...well, they're not as common as Westerns would have you believe. In fact, the big ones are considered "endangered" and are protected. They only grow in a very limited area. I wouldn't worry about 'em!
Reply to
Joe Ellis
On Thu, 23 Dec 2004 05:38:27 UTC, Scott wrote: 2000
Unfortunately the best way to learn the look of the desert is to be in it! The desert is quite varied and each area looks different. Vegetation is sparse but that is one of the things that provides the varied characteristics. Soil color and texture also vary.
The topology is also quite varied. It can be quite hilly or relatively flat, almost never dead flat. There is usually a water course somewhere. Normally dry but with shallow flow channels through it. Between the flow channels there are "islands" that contain somewhat more dense vegetation, even some low trees. The bed of the wash may be from 3 to 15 feet below the surrounding country (note these are rough guidelines, there is much more variation). Typically there are small channels cut into the banks of the wash where the water runs off the surrounding area. Yes, it does rain occasionally.
Sculpt the land forms in the foam board. Cover the foam board with a thin plaster mix. Color the mix tan in some areas and a reddish tan in others. Use a very light yellowish/grey (very light on the yellow) for the wash bed. Get yourself some nice clean, fine dirt and sprinkle it onto the landscape over glue or wet latex paint. The dirt should be light tan or reddish tan. Cover the surface with the dirt. In the wash use white N scale ballast (if you are in a larger scale). Tone it down with a light grey spray.
Apply green ground foam very sparingly in small clumps. You can very lightly sprinkle more foam around the clump, maybe 1/2" in diameter. Also get some reddish pebbles and sprinkle them around. In the wash use grey pebbles. In the wash you can sort of clump up the pebbles as if the water had pushed them into a group.
Trees are much more complex and I won't get into them. Forget the cactus. The sahuaros are unique to the Sonoran desert and unless you really know what you are doing look phony.
Pictures rarely do the desert justice. You just need to walk around in the desert for a few days. Don't do it between May and November, that is for us lizards.
Properly done a desert landscape is very effective and attractive. The best part is that you only have to make half a dozen trees for the whole layout.
Reply to
Ernie Fisch
Depends on which area. If you're doing Nevada or Utah, that's really Basin And Range country, which has some vegetation in a lot of photos I've seen, or least can have vegetation.
If you're thinking saguaros for cactus, the other poster is correct. They're endangered and limited to a small area; southern Arizona if memory serves. Most cacti are small and low-growing, Teddy Bear chollas and prickly pears for example. The Mitchell Park Domes in Milwaukee have a dome with an arid climate that has some nice examples of cacti.
I have an aerial shot of the domes here, with the CP yard (ex-MILW) on the top (north) edge of the photo.
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The link to the Mitchell Park Domes is here
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Jay
website URL: members.aol.com/orphantrainlocos/index.html All the world's a stage - and everybody's a critic.
Reply to
JCunington
Saguaros are evil and must be destroyed!
Reply to
Steve Caple
Scott, It will be worth it if you can't actually visit the desert area you plan to model to get a copy of the December 1983 issue of MR. The article called "Modeling the Great American Deserts" is excellent with a map showing where each of the deserts types are located, the colors to use and how to model the ground, and vegetation particular to each one. Bruce
Reply to
Bruce Favinger
Those who shoot saguaros are evil and must be destroyed. - Saguaro cactus, 1982 Jay
website URL: members.aol.com/orphantrainlocos/index.html All the world's a stage - and everybody's a critic.
Reply to
JCunington
On Sat, 25 Dec 2004 01:40:31 UTC, "Bruce Favinger" wrote: 2000
Another source of information is "Arizona Highways". This is a monthly magazine that contains a number of color shots. Some of them are of desert and give a good idea of the vegetation and colors. Your library may have it.
Reply to
Ernie Fisch
On Sat, 25 Dec 2004 11:03:18 UTC, snipped-for-privacy@aol.commitme (JCunington) wrote: 2000
Be very careful, saguaros fight back. A few years back some dimbulb shot the arm off of a saguaro. The arm fell, killing said dimbulb.
Reply to
Ernie Fisch
I'd heard the story years ago, then heard, saw, and got the CD of the Lizards doing their version of the story, but until I saw the Snopes reference I thought it was another myth.
His name was David Grundman A noxious little twerp. He saw the giant plants as the Clanton gang And himself as Wyatt Earpp ...
... When all at once upon a ridge The squinting gumnan saw Twenty-seven feet of succulent, Challenging his draw.
He was slightly disadvantaged By the angel of the sun, But after all the cactus Wasn't packing any gun. ...
Now the mighty cactus trembled Then came that warning sound. One mighty arm of justice Came hurtling toward the ground. The gunman staggered backward, He whimpered and he cried. The saguaro --- crushed him like a bug And David Grundman died.
Saguaro-o-o . . . a menace to the west!
- 'Saguaro', Austin Lounge Lizards "Creatures from the Black Saloon"
Reply to
Steve Caple
I grew up in this country and am modeling it. Generally speaking the ground is sparsely covered by sage brush and rabbit brush. It is about 50% bare ground and 50% brush, although in some places the brush can be fairly dense. The sage brush is a blue-gray and the rabbit brush tends toward light bluish-green. These plants are about 3-5 feet tall and 3-4 feet in diameter. You won't see anything growing in these areas that is taller than that.
I think lichen is the best material for modeling these and some of the lichen I found in New Jersey is about the right color naturally. Sage brush is not a dense plant and they look most-realistic if you can paint some of the enterior a near-black to represent the stem and branches.
What I referred to above as "bare ground" generally has some sparsely distributed low growing weeds, like thistle, and a grass that is about one foot tall and looks like wheat (I don't know the name of it). Yes there cactus, but it is prickly-pear cactus and it is so small it wouldn't be noticeable on a model railroad. I model this low-growing stuff with coarse ground foam.
In hilly areas there is a fair amount of loose rock on the ground and large rock outcroppings. In flat areas, there is not much rock. All areas will have dry stream beds that are very rough (rocks on the sides and bottom) with near-vertical sides and no vegetation. These are just erosion channels and probably can't be called "streams."
Paul Welsh
Reply to
Paul Welsh

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