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Clinic - Moving Mountains Part2 - Advanced Scenery

For this clinic we will use the hard-shell that we created in the intro clinic and finish making our mountain.  Once the hard-shell is in place and dry you are ready to begin adding rock molds.  Mix your hydrocal to a tomato soup thickness.  Get the mold wet with water.  This will help the plaster flow into all the tiny details of the mold.  

Pour in the hydrocal and set the mold aside for a couple of minutes to begin drying.  Don't let the plaster dry completely.  Let it dry to the point where if you pick up the mold and flex it backwards you will see a spider web of creaks from on the surface.  It will look the way most yards do in the hot summer time.  

At that point it is ready to place on the hard-shell.  You will have to hold it in place for a couple of minutes.  This is where an extra pair of hands comes in handy.  You will want to hold it in place until you feel heat coming through the mold.  Gently peel the edges of the mold back.  If the casting doesn't want to stick to the hard-shell, hold it in place a little longer.

Use several different molds and parts of molds to create you mountains.  Remember to keep the strata moving in similar directions.  You don't have to take a geology class but if you will see it straight off if all the lines are running side to side and then in the middle there is a spot that looks like the same kind of rock...is painted like the same rock...and the lines are running up and down.  This is a bad thing.  Mother Nature doesn't work that way.  You will have to pay attention to the direction that the mold will need to mount when you start.

After the mold has been removed, and while the hydrocal is still soft, you can carve the edge between two castings so they run together and it will hide the edges.  

Once your rock molds are in place you are ready to paint your mountains.  Choose your colors based on the location of your railroad.  Using acrylic paint, squeeze some paint into a spray bottle (similar to bottle used by house hold cleaners).  Add water (distilled is best.  Some tap waters contain chemical for our 'health' that will effect the color of the paint.) and shake.  Test the results and see if it is dark enough.  If it isn't simply add more paint to the bottle and shake.  Mix all of your colors before you begin painting.

Work from dark to light with your colors.  This will set the 'shadows' in your rocks  Once your colors have dried DRY BRUSH white to the edges of the rocks.  This will add the illusion of light.  If you are unfamiliar with the Dry Brushing technique please see our weathering clinic.

Add trees and or bushes.  I use a CA type glue with an accelerator to attach the tree to the shell.  Plant trees in odd numbers unless doing a large forest.  Even numbers provide too much unnatural symmetry to the eye and it will look wrong.  This same tip goes for all details that you add to a scene...people, cars, crates and so on.  Pour on real dirt from the top down.  It helps if you can get some from the area that you are modeling.  It's hard to get the color right if you can't use the real thing.  Before the dirt is poured on the layout make sure that it has been sifted to remove unwanted particles such as glass.  You will also want to bake the dirt for 20 or 30 minutes in the oven at 300-350 degrees.  This is to kill any seeds that might want to start growing on the layout when we wet the dirt down to glue it in place.  Once the dirt has been spread around you glue it down like any other ground foam or ballast.  You wet the surface down with wet water (water with a drop or two of dish soap to break down the surface tension of the water.)  Once the area is good and wet you soak the area with a mixture of white glue and water.  (white and water is a 50/50 mix).  The glue and water will run into the already wet area.  Allow to dry.  You can then add weeds, people, fallen branches...whatever else you feel is necessary for the scene.

It's best to find or take pictures of the area you are modeling.  Pay attention to colors...of rocks, weeds, trees and dirt.  Look for what kinds of rocks are prominent in that area.  What kinds of trees, flowers and weeds grow there.  The time of year will also make a big difference to the colors of the rocks, dirt and foliage of the area.  A wet rainy season will also darken the colors of rocks and dirt.  You also want to look for things like rock and mudslides.  These are very common in mountain railroading.  The best results can only be achieved by first doing a little research into the area that you model.  


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