Ground color

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by Roger Wellman, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. Roger Wellman

    Roger Wellman New Member

    I am about to color the ground on my layout, before adding trees, bushes, grass, buildings ... etc ... and am curious what would be a good, basic ground looking color that would work for rocks, dirt and bare ground.
  2. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    A lot depends on what part of the country you are modeling. And whether it is forest, farm land, plains, desert, etc.?

    Give us an idea of what you are modeling.
  3. billk

    billk Active Member

    davidstrain's reply is a good one. If one was to make a detailed model of a particular piece of rolling stock, motive power, or a building, I would suppose that one would first try to find as many pictures, drawings, etc. of the real thing as he could. I wonder how many of us try to model scenery without doing the same!

    PS: Welcome to The Gauge, Rager!
  4. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Welcome to the Gauge Roger! I agree with the others, where you are modeling has a bearing on the color. However if you are going the generic route a dark brownish green would probably look all right if your ground cover leaves a spot exposed.
  5. Roger Wellman

    Roger Wellman New Member

    It is a bit like the foothills of the smokies ... some rock, trees and the like. I have a brown selected, but a few dabs of paint looked too dark. I have some lighter brown/tan rocks that I painted to put on the hills, and was wondering what type of underpaint color to use under grass and the like. I realize the part of the country is important ... but I guess I want to know if there is a generic feeling about the ground color. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  6. davidstrains

    davidstrains Active Member

    I would lighten the brown to a tan tone and then work from there. Add the green foams for grass and vegetation as well as the other foams for variety.
  7. sumpter250

    sumpter250 multiscale modelbuilder

    I guess if there's a generic feeling about ground color, it would be that the ground should look like "the ground"! I don't know which side of the Smokies you are modeling, but the Nantahala Midland, Tyson's N scale "empire", is on the East side of the smokies. Check it out! You may not be too far from the part of the country where the soil is brick red, and may want to go with that color.
  8. Roger Wellman

    Roger Wellman New Member

    Yes, I remember the red clay of the Carolina's ... it's everywhere! The idea of a 'lighter than dark brown' tan appeals to me ... thanks for the help ... I remain a relative "newby" to this aspect of the hobby ... and appreciate the thoughts and comments. At my age, being a "newby" is refreshing!
  9. Woodie

    Woodie Active Member


    Just a few thoughts that may help. To do your ground cover, have a look at the way nature does it. Dirt first, then some grassy stuff, then some sticks fall on top of that, then some bushes. etc. The best material to use is that gathered from the area you are modelling, and then process it yourself. Finely sieve the dirt from the area. Sprinkle that on a painted on layer of woodglue. Next, use some leaves, grasses, etc that you gathered and put them in the blender. Different conconctions to give diffferent shades of the natural covers. do the same. Sprinkle them on top, over the dirt. Maybe leave some dirt exposed a bit.

    Of course you can get the commercially prepared ground cover stuff as well.

    As for paints? Try a visit to your local hobby shop for some artist acrylic water based paints. They do come in "earthy" colours. Choose some of the "earthy names" e.g. Burnt "umber", Yellow "ochre", red "oxide" "leaf" green. These colours are made from pigments found in the natural surroundings you wish to model.
    Make a very weak "wash" (water the paint down) and daub it all over your scenery. Use a number of different colours (letting it dry between colours) and "splogges" to get a natural weatherbeaten look. Do this before putting the ground cover on, of course. :)
    Good luck, and we wanna see the piccies of the finished result. :cool:
  10. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Not trying to be a smarty pants,the best teacher of scenery is Mother Nature..A slow drive on a country back road,a hike along a rail to trail path or perhaps a visit to the area being modeled if possible will work wonders..Remember Mother Nature isn't always perfect either..Don't over look man made changes.Dirt can run from almost black to gray in color.Out croppings can be lime,slate and plain old rock depending on area of the country one visits.Not to mention the red clay found in the south.

    As billk noted we will research a given modeling project,but over look reseaching our scenery.I agree that Tyson layout captures the look of smokies quite well and will be well worth checking out.

    A foot note.While reseaching rocks and out croppings keep a eye out for Mr.Fang.I was reseaching some out croppings in Eastern Kentucky and had a close encounter with a rattle snake..:eek:

    So please do be careful and alert in and around snake country.I was living in Eastern Kentucky at the time and knew better then to poke around rock croppings with out frist taking a good hard look before stomping around rocks..I failed to do that and Mr.Fang remined me that I was trespassing and was not welcome in his area..
  11. Tyson Rayles

    Tyson Rayles Active Member

    Roger it's your layout, don't beat yourself to death on getting the ground cover/colors perfect. If you like brown/tan then go for it. For the record, there isn't much of anything in the way of dirt, rocks etc. that color in this part of the country that I'm aware of. Those colors sound more like the desert southwest/Rockies area. Whatever color you decide to paint things good luck, have fun and please post some pics! :)
  12. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    The traditional colour mix for ground and rocks uses umber (raw and burnt) and sienna (raw and burnt). I think these colours were developed from the ground in Italy, hence the names. There's also terra cotta, a reddish plant pot shade. Remember that ground isn't all one shade and can vary as you dig down.
    Unless you're modelling an area with a distinctive colouring, just try to match your backyard.
  13. jon-monon

    jon-monon Active Member


    This one has brown paint on the base, the very same paint used on the rails and the pile of ties at the end of the track (you have to click the first links to get the pic :confused: ) :


    and ths thread has close up examples of the brown base BTW: that guy finally did get a fire going.

    This one is black and brown paint mixed dunno the proportions; just squirt some on and brushed it out until it looked good...


    Another view, the color is not even:


    Maybe some of the souther guys and gals can post examples...

    close up examples

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