Styrofoam Rocks – Part IV

Zip Texture
Once the AI wash had dried, I brushed water across the flat surfaces where I wanted ‘dirt’ and then zip textured (sprinkled on with a tea strainer) a ‘brown dirt’ tempera powder (see the Sep-Oct issue of Model Railroad Hobbyist)
Dry. The zip texture really does a lot and looks MUCH more like dirt then most anything else
Finally – Rubble
I bought a 10lb bag of floor sweep at the auto store. It’s what is used to soak up spills at a garage and is just clay. I used one of those wire mesh strainers you put in your sink to separate the larger clay bits from the smaller. I just put the ‘large’ bits around then sifted the smaller on top and secured with scenic cement. You could leave as is .. but I would come back with some more zip texturing using the brush technique (load a brush with the tempera ‘dirt’ .. wet where you want it .. like on the horizontal surfaces .. and gently the brush against your finger. You can get really good control doing that).

Since I did this I found another great source for rubble. If you go by the section of your Lowes/Home Depot where they have the patio stone, look for a bag of ‘Paver Base’. My local Lowes’ is decomposed granite. You can’t wrong with a 50lb bag of great scenic stone/rubble for less the $4 a bag!

The difference is that the floor sweep being clay will take stain better then the granite. I like to use both.


Styrofoam Rocks – Part IV — 11 Comments

  1. I have been asked to present a clinic at the NMRA PCR convention 2013. I have presented clinics on logo design and lightweight table construction using extruded foam. I have been using the foam sheets for scenery building on my layout and most recently carving rocks in foam.
    I thought that might work into an interesting clinic for the convention.
    So, what I am asking is can I use your material to enhance my clinic? Do you have more material or other items or handouts. All credit is yours. I’ll just be presenting it and add my experiences and samples to it.

    I will send you anything I add to the presentation as well.
    George Pischng, Fresno, CA

    • George
      You are more then welcome to use anything on these pages. Sept 26th I am supposed to be giving a workshop at a local area TCA meet (hey .. they are train guys even if they DO have a weird third rail!). The subject will be “scenery using everyday materials”. I hadn’t really thought about it but .. I need a handout. When I make one up I will send you ca copy.

      .. other items .. most everything I do I end up posting to this blog at some point. I have some other scenery items .. stuff on roads – Ancient Asphalt, Ancient Asphalt Redux and my Pump House Road articles. I also have two other articles on rocks .. my Layered Rock Mold and the Flexible Rock Casting articles.

  2. Ed,
    Your work is outstanding and you make it look so simple.
    I love the tutorial on ‘Styrofoam Rocks’ and would like to share it with my operating group, with your approval of course.

  3. I’ve been experimenting with foam as scenic base and for rock bluffs. Love it to work with. Trying to find ways to carve without mess on installed foam – hacksaw blade messy. Like what you’ve done.

    Rubble – I collect and use the scraps created when carving, sawing, scraping as rubble. Paint on 30 – 40% water/70%Dap window caulk; spoon on styrofoam rubble, then dribble more Dap mix on top. Then paint everything dirt or rock colour.

    • Yeah. That’s the funny part. You can mix up just about any of the ‘left overs’ and use them. I find it funny sometimes that people get all nervous about getting everything exact .. while in truth you can actually just ‘go with the flow ..

      • You got THAT right! I’ve always told people at local clinics and meets this:

        “Scenery construction is barely ‘art’!! It’s best when you DON’T strive for perfection. Try to remember, Nature is not perfect! It’s haphazard, random, and very imperfect. Chop at it, throw stuff on it, add vegetation and some critters on it….
        Try to use colors that best represent the region you’re modeling, but again, don’t try too hard!

        If it’s too light – splash a little A/I Warsh on it. (I LOVE picking on northern pronunciations!!)

        If too dark – add lighter tones, some dirt, some gravel, even more vegetation.”

        I basically try to convey the concept of imperfection. And how, except in the most barren places, Nature has LAYERS. There’s usually always something on top of something – and something on top of that!

        You have illustrated all of this very well in your scenery series!

        • Thanks Carmine. You put it pretty well what I think too as you see. Imperfection .. not worrying about the little things .. just let it flow. That is pretty much what an artist does and that is what we are after all.
          There was a book – Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain which must have influenced me as I still remember it (published 1979). The idea being that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain and your right your nonverbal and intuitive brain. What the book boiled down to was that artist manage to use both sides for their art. Too often people are only using the rational part and failing to let the intuitive side freedom to express that art.

  4. …… I WISH I had read that, when I was a young engineering student, trying to build a layout!!! 😛

    That’s exactly why I try to convey the above thoughts to younger modelers. When we were younger, we’re full of ego and competitive spirit – and have little patience for “flow”.
    I know I was!

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