The Beginner’s Guide To Static Grass

preparing the base of a miniature for static grassIf you’re looking to add realistic greenery to your miniature landscapes, static grass is a great option. But, what exactly is static grass and how do you use it?

What is static grass?

Let’s start with the basics, if you haven’t used it before, static grass is a material used to create ground cover vegetation such as grass, meadows, and other types of foliage on miniature landscapes. It’s been around since the early 2000s and adds a level of realism to a layout, diorama or war gaming miniature base that’s hard to beat.

There are of course other types of ground cover, one of the most common being scatter. The main difference between static grass and its popular rival is that while scatter is usually made up of small pieces of material, such as sawdust, that are sprinkled over a surface to create a textured look, static grass consists of individual fibres, typically made from a material such as polyurethane or nylon.

And when these fine lightweight fibres are electrostatically charged they stand up, looking like individual blades of grass rather than a big clump of material. In so doing they better mimic the look of natural grass.  For this reason, static makes a great choice for creating detailed, realistic-looking landscapes and takes a layout or diorama to the next level.

There are many different makes of static grass available on the market, each with their own unique features and characteristics. The first brand known to use it was Noch but some other well-known makes now include Woodland Scenics, WWScenics, GaugeMaster and Javis. You can also make your own static grass

These manufacturers and others offer it in a variety of lengths and colours, from bright green to autumnal hues, which means it can be used to create realistic-looking landscapes in any season.

How to apply static grass

Here is the basic technique I suggest to all beginners. If you want the best-looking static grass and more tips, read this guide on how to apply static grass from the creator of some of the best miniature meadow and grassland I’ve seen.

MRE tips for applying static grass :

1) Clean and dry the surface being covered. Any dust or debris will show up on the finished grass area.

 

2) Before you sprinkle the static grass, scatter the grass over a sheet of paper and use your fingers to break up any clumps. Pour the separated fibres back into the container ready to use.

 

2) Get a static grass applicator. I’ve tested the various models available and you can read my conclusions in the post the best static grass applicator.

 

3) Paint a PVA or basing glue over the area you’ll be working on and load up the applicator with static grass.

 

4) Sprinkle the fibres, using the applicator, in small amounts. You can add more later but it’s hard to remove if you add too much. Also, sprinkling small amounts over an area will also allow the fibres to stand up, too much can flatten them or result in clumping.

 

5) Applying the grass in layers, starting with short fibres first and building up to longer layers with a spray adhesive between the layers, improves the look. Using a variety of colours will also help make the finished product look more realistic.

 

6) Once you’ve applied the grass to an area, let the glue set and then work a brush over the area to lift up any ‘lazy’ fibres and collect strands that aren’t glued themselves down.

 

What length of static grass for your scale

As mentioned, static grass comes in a variety of lengths, from 1mm to 10mm. Here’s what I suggest for common scales.

Adding static grass to a warhammer space wolf

2mm/4mm static grass is the right length for lawn length grass on Warhammer miniatures.

 

For 28mm war gaming figure bases and scenery, 1 to 2mm is the length of static grass that works best for short lawn grass, for fields and long grass 4 to 6mm is my recommendation.

This is based on 28mm figures being between 1:56 and 1:60 scale. An average length of lawn grass is around 2 inches – in my garden in Surrey UK at least – which equates to 1mm while long grass, of around 1 foot, will be 6mm+.

For British N scale model railways, lengths of 1mm for garden or lawn grass are best; with 2 and 4mm for long field grass. For intentional N gauge, use 2mm and 6mm respectively.

For OO/HO gauge track, you’ll want grass between 2 and 6mm depending on the length of the real grass you’re modelling.

Disadvantages of static grass

As you might have guessed, I’m a big fan of static grass, it takes layouts and miniatures in particular, to a different level but there are disadvantages. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that it can take a while to master applying it. Many beginners often find their static grass doesn’t stand up correctly – which is after all the whole point. Following the tips above and using an applicator will help but perhaps the biggest piece of advice I can give is to practice before applying it to your diorama. It’s hard to remove after application and it’ll ruin another otherwise nice scene if done wrongly. So practice practice, with an applicator on paper first.

Rake over your grass every so often to keep it standing upright.

Another problem is that over time, even perfectly laid static grass can flatten out. Don’t assume just before you’ve got it perfect now it’ll stay that way, it won’t. Once or twice a year, I rework static grass areas on my layouts, working over the grass with a brush or comb-cleaning fork/brush.

This being said, these advantages can be overcome and I still recommend using it on your layouts, dioramas and miniature scenes.

What’s the best glue for static grass

Until recently I’ve always used PVA (wood glue) watered down to a ratio of 70/30 PVA to water together with a few drops of washing-up liquid. (The washing-up liquid reduces the surface tension of the glue and allows the static grass fibres to penetrate the glue surface and stand up rather than just falling flat.

However, in the last few months, I’ve been using WWScenics basing glue. And, in my experience, this has a number of advantages over the mix of PVA I was using previously.

Firstly, it seems to dry quicker, which as long as you work in small areas at a time (as I’d recommend) makes it faster to finish an area.

More importantly, it always dries clear. I’ve had problems in the past with some PVA glues setting with a yellow finish which shows through the grass and spoils the look.

What you’ll need to apply static grass

Fancy having a go at laying static grass? Here’s what you’ll need:

> Some static grass. A good starter pack with various colours is available here.

> Glue: Watered-down PVA (wood glue) works well but you can also buy dedicated basing glue here.

> A static grass applicator. See my guide to the best static grass applicators.

If you’ll be buying everything, you can get a range of grasses, glues and my recommended applicator in a complete pack here.

What next

To apply static grass, you’ll need an applicator. Read my review of the various applicators and conclusions as to which is best.


Affiliate notice: Some links on this page will take you to carefully selected businesses, including Hornby, B&Q, Rapid Online, Amazon, eBay, Scale Model Scenery and Element Games, through which you can buy products mentioned. These links are made under their affiliate schemes which means that although the price to you doesn't change I get a small commission on the orders you place. Please see the disclaimer for more details.

Add Comment

Required fields are marked *. Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.