Sunday, 12 April 2020

Some more tree planting

Tree planting (again)

To try and make this small N scale layout feel larger, I have employed a technique called forced perspective

Almost all of the sceniced part of the N scale Bethungra Loop layout is visible in this picture.  This is the angle that many visitors to the Museum will see upon entering the door of the Railway exhibit room.  The height of the trees recedes into the distance, and I hope makes the layout seem bigger than it is.

Normal perspective means that things a long way away, look smaller.  Forced perspective means building models in a smaller scale, and placing them in such a way that the eye is tricked into thinking they are further away than they are.

Making trees smaller than N scale has taken longer (much longer) than I hoped.  The Chinese made 3cm high trees (as planted on top of Bethungra hill) have been covered earlier.  But these were too small for the medium distances, and I didn't buy any more.  The 5cm high wire-wound trees were the subject of the previous blog post, and I was itching to see how they would come out.  I also needed something to fill in the extreme rear of the layout - something that would not have much detail.   I had seen puff ball trees used to great effect on many USA layouts, and thought I would try to make some of my own.

Puff Ball Tree Making

The ingredients.  Woodland scenics Poly fibre, coarse ground foam, spray adhesive, cheap hair spray, an ice cream container, and something disposable to act as a mat.
Pull out the polyfibre into rough shapes.  Tease out as much as you can. 
Ground foam poured into the ice-cream container.

The method is simple.  Spray adhesive onto the polyfibre shapes on the "disposable mat".  Then turn the shapes over, and spray some more.

When sticky, drop in the polyfibre shapes (one at a time) into the foam filled ice cream container.  Move the shape around until all the sticky fibres are covered in foam.

Remove from the foam, and using the hair spray, spray the foam covered shape, place back onto a "dry mat" (Don't use the one you earlier sprayed glue onto)

Repeat until all shapes are covered in foam.

Pour the unused foam back into the ground foam container
Trees and bushes come in all sizes.

Any foam that happens to be dislodged on the "dry mat" can also be collected and reused.

Plant your bushes on top of a dab of white glue direct onto the scenery.  Wait to the glue dries.

The N scale convention last October in Canberra provided the delegates with a number of neat "give-aways" as part of their registration pack.  One of the items I received was a Rosco brand N scale FX Holden panel van.  A mate, who didn't model N scale, then gave me his model, an MG Sedan.  These come as unpainted white metal lumps.  N scale cars  are seriously small, but I think my painting skills are OK.  Although it was suggested, 2 tone duco on the MG, and signs on the side of the van would have had me searching for the phone number to the funny farm. 

The first bit of perpsective planting was my quick and dirty trees on the embankment leading to the bridge.

The FX Holden, and some of the puffball trees on the backscene behind the tracks.  Trying a shadow effect to simulate the late afternoon sun was probably not that effective 
More tree planting in the distance.  The puffball trees are blending in quite well.  I have also planted some of these closer to the foreground, and they look a bit like bushes.  Can you also see my wirewound trees in the distance?  The MG gives the road a purpose.  I really need to paint the tunnel portals before too long
Contrast this picture with the one from last blog on ballasting.  Puff-ball bushes, and reduced scale wirewound trees don't look out of place to my eyes 

Still to be done

I have a few more trees to be planted, and there is a lot of line-side weeds needed to cover up some of the white foam/plaster that has unfortunately come through.  The lineside telegraph poles need to be placed.  The tunnel portals to be painted.  Then I need to tidy up the electrics, simple as they are, they really are unsuited to a museum display.  Plus more servicing of the locos, and trains, and test running.

The Broadway Museum is currently closed due to COVID-19, but I need to get the layout down there, so that they can work on the backscenes, and perspex.

Final thoughts.

Sharing your modelling via blogs, website, social media, email or magazines,  is one way to stay in touch during these times of social isolating and lockdowns.  It is more important than ever to maintain these links.  And, try something new, learn a new skill.  Get stuck into a project that you have been putting off to a rainy day.  As someone has said, when you are given lemons, make lemonade.  May everyone remain safe.  Thank you


  1. Coming along nicely Rob! I might give your puffball tree method a try myself.

  2. To all my readers. Today, something has happened, and most of my pictures on my two latest blog posts have been deleted, and replaced with an oval. I have tried to update with the correct pictures, but no success. If anyone knows why this has happened, I would be grateful for advice. Thanks

    1. 15 hours later, I was able to restore the images. I still do not know what happened, but there were similar reports yesterday from Google Blog community. Thank you for your patience