Creating Realistic Scenic Bases for Model Railways


Model railway enthusiasts often strive for realism in their layouts, and one key element in achieving this is creating lifelike scenic bases. Using a combination of dirt, static grass, and diorama landscape supplies, enthusiasts can add texture, depth, and authenticity to their dioramas. This article will explore the process of creating a realistic scenic base using these materials, along with the necessary tools and techniques.

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Materials and Tools for Dirt Paste

To begin, gather the following materials: dirt, playground sand, plaster, matte Mod Podge, and water. Start by mixing the dry ingredients in a container, ensuring they are well combined. Add the Mod Podge and water gradually, stirring until you achieve a paste-like consistency. The paste should be thin enough to spread easily but thick enough to hold its shape. This mixture creates a durable and textured base that mimics the appearance of real soil and adds a natural element to your diorama. Additionally, you can add small rocks, twigs, or other natural debris to the mixture for added realism.

Applying Dirt Paste to the Base

Using a spoon or brush, apply the dirt paste to the base of your diorama. Spread it evenly, covering the entire surface. Once the base is covered, sprinkle some dry dirt over the wet paste. This will help the paste dry faster and add additional texture to the surface. Shake off any excess dirt and allow the paste to dry completely. The dried paste provides a solid foundation for the static grass and other scenic elements, ensuring that they adhere properly and create a realistic landscape. It’s important to let the paste dry completely before proceeding to the next step to avoid any damage to the texture or surface.

Adding Static Grass with an Applicator

Once the dirt paste has dried, it’s time to add the static grass. Using a static grass applicator, apply a layer of Mod Podge to the areas where you want the grass to stick. Start with shorter lengths of grass and gradually work your way up to longer lengths for a more natural look. Shake off any excess grass and allow it to set. Repeat this process with different lengths and colors of static grass to create depth and variation in your scenery. The static grass application system allows for the precise placement of grass, ensuring that your landscape looks natural and realistic. Additionally, you can create patches of different grass lengths and colors to simulate different types of terrain, such as meadows, fields, or forests.

Painting the Static Grass

For added realism, you can paint the static grass using acrylic paints. Dilute the paint with water and apply it to the grass using an airbrush. This allows you to create dead patches and add variation to the color of the grass. You can also paint the dirt surfaces to achieve different textures and colors. Experiment with different colors and techniques to achieve the desired effect for your diorama landscape. Painting the static grass adds depth and realism to your scenery, making it look more natural and visually appealing. Additionally, you can use dry brushing techniques to add highlights and shadows to the grass, further enhancing its realism.

Choosing the Right Applicator for Your Project

The Pico Scenic range offers several applicators suited to different scales and project sizes. The PSG1 Micro is ideal for covering medium-sized areas, such as embankments and trackside verges, while the PSG2 with a larger hopper is better suited for larger areas like hillsides and sprawling landscapes. For small, detailed areas such as pavements and gardens, the PSG4 Detailer Applicator is the perfect choice. By selecting the right applicator for your project, you can achieve precise and consistent results, enhancing the realism of your diorama.

Applying Static Grass for a Natural Look

To achieve a realistic grassy texture, start by applying a layer of Mod Podge or adhesive to the surface where you want the grass to stick. Use a variety of static grass lengths and colors to create a natural look, starting with shorter lengths and gradually adding longer lengths for depth. Shake off any excess grass and allow it to set. By layering different lengths and colors of static grass, you can create a lush, realistic landscape that enhances the overall appearance of your model railway layout.


Creating a realistic scenic base for your model railway diorama requires careful planning and attention to detail. By using dirt, static grass, and other diorama landscape supplies, you can add depth and realism to your layout. Experiment with different techniques and materials to achieve the desired effect, and don’t be afraid to get creative. With some patience and practice, you can create stunning landscapes that bring your model railway to life. The combination of dirt paste and static grass provides a versatile and effective way to create lifelike scenery that enhances the overall look of your model railway layout.


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