Realistic Sage Brush

SPSHASTAROUTE's picture
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Recently I've been working on my layout scenery between Grass Lake and Black Butte (SP Shasta Route).  I'm trying to figure out how to represent sage brush, or what I call sage brush.  The bush in question is colored similar to artemesia tridentia (big sage) represented by this photo.

I'm 99% sure what I'm trying to imitate is this "big sage", but in a more juvenile form perhaps.  I say this because I have seen some more "old growth" type plants that can be head high and are more tree-like, but have the same coloring.  See the two photos below taken near the area I'm modeling.

You will notice in this picture that the sage brush is flowering.  I've noticed it can change appearance slightly depending on the season (as do most plants and trees).  My first attempt at modeling it was to use Woodland Scenics field grass fiber which I airbrushed a pale grey/aqua green concoction prior to planting it.  I wasn't satisfied with this method.  Next I'm considering getting some of Silflor's buffalo tufts and airbrushing them.

Has anyone attempted to replicate this weed? 

Mike Lozensky

 




Scarpia's picture

To answer your question

To answer your question, no, I haven't, but what about fake fur? There was a good article in the September 09 MR called Make Realistic Weeds that hightlighted fake fur; a longer "tuft" might just do it.

 

 


HO, early transition era www.garbo.org/MRR local time GMT +4
On30, circa 1900    

 

You didn't mention what scale you are modeling.

I model in ho, so I think in terms of ho unless the person posting the question mentions another scale.  The thing I notice about the brush is that is is almost like a miniature tree.  It has one stem or trunk, but branches out to multiple trunks within 6 inches of the ground.  I just checked the Woodland Scenics web site for their tree armatures.  I think you could replicate that brush with the 3/4"-2" deciduous armatures.  Lose the base and cut the trunk about 3-6 scale inches below where the branches start branching out from the trunk.  bend the armature to shape and perhaps trim the ends of the branches so that the "tree" doesn't stand taller than you want in ho scale.  Fill out the foliage with ground foam.  The color of the foliage looks pretty close to a blue spruce color.  I don't know if they make that color foam, but that would be a good choice if available.  The only problem with this method is that at $13.00 for what looks to be 4 armatures would get very expensive.  You might look around to see if you can find suitable armatures on new growth of trees or some brush in your area.  The reason that the various types of "grass" that you have tried doesn't look right is because grasses always have individual blades rather than the trunk & branch detail that you are looking for.  You will need to find something that will make a miniature tree armature to replicate that detail.

skiloff's picture

What about

cutting up Super Trees from Scenic Express into smaller chunks?

Dave

Contemplating
HO Scale '70s/80s era
GMT-6

I'm not familiar with the Super Trees.

If there is enough branch detail in one tree to make a bunch of brush for one, then that would work.  What won't work is taking a tall tree and cutting it up into six "short trees".  The branches of sage brush are scaled down to an appropriate size compared to the size of the bush.  A limb will probably only be a maximum of 1 1/2 inches in diameter.  A typical large tree will have branches that are 4 to 6 inches thick, perhaps even thicker.

I just thought of another method that might work as well.  Strip the insulation off of a short piece of #10 ga stranded wire about 1 inch longer than you want your brush to be.  Leave an inch or so of insulation at one end for a handle.  Then separate and twist together sets of three wires to make a tree armature, and bend the limbs to replicate the shape of the branch structure.  Dipping the armature into thick latex paint of an apropriate wood color would replicate the bark.  After the paint dries, use a bit of spray adhesive and ground foam to do the foliage.  Then you could either drill a large enoufgh hole in the layout to "plant" the insulation in the "ground" out of sight, or strip off the last bit of insulation and cut out most of the wires leaving two or three twisted together to make a stake to plant it with. 

Scarpia's picture

If there is enough branch

If there is enough branch detail in one tree

There is, and this isn't a bad idea -  depending on scale as you mentioned. A bit time consuming maybe, but I use broken SuperTrees for bushes and they work out well.

 


HO, early transition era www.garbo.org/MRR local time GMT +4
On30, circa 1900    

 

I'm not sure, but I suspect that cutting up Super Trees

is a lot less time consuming than building sage brush from scratch using wire or tree armatures.

SPSHASTAROUTE's picture

Good ideas

Thanks for the replies.  Sorry I didn't mention it, but yes I model in HO.  Fake fur clumps... That Idea has potential.  Also mentioned was using pieces of supertrees.  I'm actually using that method right now to model bigger brush like mountain mahogany (or what I call it anyway).  It works superb.  Another hobby of mine is fly tying as in trout flies, etc.  I've come up with a method to take the bobbin tool (thread applicator) and wrap several small twigs of supertrees together to make a fuller looking bush.  Then I proceed as with full size supertrees.  I'll post some pictures of this after I take some photos.  I have made some larger sage brush using this method, but to get bushes smaller than about 3' HO using this technique is difficult.

Mike Lozensky

Mike Lozensky

Moder Railroader   Railroad Modeler

SPSHASTAROUTE's picture

Wire armatures

Hi Russ. 

That is a great idea!  It may be a little tedious, but I'll give it a shot.

Mike

Mike Lozensky

Moder Railroader   Railroad Modeler

SPSHASTAROUTE's picture

Photos of my super tree bushes

Ok here is a picture of some mountain mahogany I made with my supertree method.

Here is a picture of the M.M planted in a scene.  Also you will see my initial attempt at small sage brush using the field grass.  There are some bigger sage brush planted using the supertree method.  I apologize for the picture being fuzzy.

Here are some pictures of the tools I use to make the supertree clumps.  The bobbin (holds thread), and the whip finisher (ties a Knot when done).  These tools are available at any fly shop or Dicks, Cabelas, etc.

By the way, The clump I'm holding is about as small as I can make (probably about 30" tall HO).  Here is a picture (fuzzy -- sorry) of various sized supertree clumps.  These are ready for a dunk in the matte medium tank.  After they dry completely I spray them primer grey and flock with varous shades of ground foam.  The mtn. mahogany in the picture above uses a medium green flock and a scant mist of primer grey to finish off.

Mike Lozensky

Mike Lozensky

Moder Railroader   Railroad Modeler

Brian Clogg's picture

sage

Perhaps lichen would work for the smaller bushes.Trim it, cover with ground foam and spray an approriate color.

Brian Clogg

Cariboo Western Railway

Brian Clogg

British Columbia Railway

Squamish Subdivision

http://www.CWRailway.ca


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