Shortly after publishing a recent article on making stone bridges I got a number of messages from modellers wanting to know more about the vegetation seen in the photo. Here’s how I make my bushes.
On my layouts I use a variety of materials from all over. Some things I buy the off the shelf products, some I start with these and modifying them (kit bashing) and for some items where I want realism I make my own.
Bushes are one of the latter.
While there are ready-made bushes available they seem a bit big for N scale – even though they’re marketed as suitable for 1:148 scale. Also, they seem very repetitive, all looking very similar and don’t have the variation of natural vegetation.
For these reasons I make my own.
Note: While this guide is for N scale, the technique will work perfectly for OO, HO, O and other scales.
I start with a visit to a Chemist or cobbler.
What I’m looking for is a clothes brush. Other brushes can be used as long as the bristles are stiff but very fine. They will become the branches of the bushes and so need to be a dark colour and strong but equally very thin given the size needed.
Once aquired, shave the bristles off and cut them into lengths of around 3mm.
Then take a heat glue gun and and place a small drop of the glue on some paper.
Now comes the fiddly bit.
Place around 5 or 6 bristles upright in the glue. This needs to be done quickly as hot glue sets quickly. And given each bristle is around 3mm you’ll probably need to use tweezers.
With this done leave it a few minutes for the glue to dry.
I make lots of these bushes and so use the drying time to make the next one, creating a series of small mounds of erect glued bristles.
Once dry, deposit a few drops of Latex liquid over the bristles and glue droplet. If you don’t have Latex handy, PVA should work just as well.
Now before the Latex/PVA dries sprinkle fine Brown scatter over them and then turn the sheet of paper over and dab them into a tub of 1mm flock. It will clump up so give it a good shake to lose the excess. (The scatter is to add texture to the “branches” while the flock creates leaves/smaller branches)
Next comes another fiddly bit.
Examine the bushes carefully and with the tweezers pinch off some of the flock so the bristles are exposed. This isn’t strictly necessary but looking at a lot of natural bushes I noticed how the the branches inside the bush are often visible. Exposing the bristles creates this impression and gives a more realistic finish.
In the photo here you can see the results.
Finally, spray them with a thin dusting of hair spray to hold.
Once they are all done, cut each bush free of its paper and paint the exposed paper under each bush with a colour reflecting the ground colour where the “plants” will be planted.
The result can be seen in the photo at the top of the article. The new busy is in front and to the right of the loco.
What do you think?
A final, personal, note: I spend a huge amount of time testing, photographing, writing and researching techniques for these articles and pay for all the running costs of MRE out of my own pocket. If you found this article useful you can support me by making a donation on my fund-raising page. Thanks and happy modelling, Andy.