April 20, 2014

Toxic Spills and other Calamities

I am just about done with the Accokeek Creek area. To finish off the scene I built 4 wire trees and several smaller bushes from Supertrees and Sedum flower heads. I installed them on the slope above the creek in front of the simpler weed based trees.The wire trees and underbrush provide enough of a view block to help disguise the simpler trees behind. Together with the trees painted on the backdrop, the overall scene seems to work well.
I used Elmers water based wood putty and Liquidtex
Stucco Gesso to add bark texture to the trees.

The next step was to add water to Accokeek Creek. I added a layer of Magic Water to the Creek bed. For various reasons that seemed good at the time, I decided to tint the water with some brown laquer based paint. I ended up adding too much paint and the water came out too dark. I also had some resin leaking at the dam on the front edge where I used masking tape to seal the gap. I caught it before it made a big mess.

 I am not worried about the color as once the water is cured, I can fix it probably by painting it and adding a new layer of water.

Painting base coat on the wire trees
While I had the Magic Water out, I poured the water in Potomac Creek too. That tape dam did not leak.  I did not tint this water. Once the resin is cured on both streams, I will evaluate what else needs to be done.

The cows are  trying out some of the static grass. 

The paint tinting the water made it look like a toxic waste spill

Storage shed at Brooke Siding

While the resin was curing, I started building a storage shed at Brooke. This structure is 17 inches long and 6 inches deep. The slope of the hill prevented me from making it deeper.

Magic Water in Potomac Creek.

I used my DSLR for the three shots of finished Accokeek Creek. The others are handheld  iPhone shots. With my DSLR I used RAW and custom white balance settings. This results in photos with accurate color rendition on my monitor. In looking at static grass photos around the web,  I have noticed that static grass is hard to photograph  as its glossy texture tends to over saturate colors with most digital camera. It takes retouching with destaurate tools and levels/curves to make the static grass look correct.


  1. Bernie, at first glance, the 'toxic' water doesn't look that far off from what I've seen in claiborne creek and aquia creek's runoff. I'm guessing that it would be pretty silty and dirty, so I think it looks good. The Potomac creek (to me) is a little deep blue, and probably could use some muddying, as you're just starting to see some run-off from the snow melt in the West. Just one man's (pretty newbie) opinion...

  2. I agree with Norman, from the photo, the creek is convincing.

  3. "static grass is hard to photograph as its glossy texture tends to over saturate colors"

    Would hitting it with a touch of Dullcoat help? (The grass - not the monitor nor the camera...)

  4. Using Dullcote may help, but I have not tried it and I probably wouldn't as there is a lot of area to cover. That would create a toxic cloud to match the toxic spill.
    I have used acrylics to recolor static grass on other layouts and dioramas. I did a little of that here too. Armor modelers do it all the time.

    The color issues can be fixed in photoshop too, so it is not that big of a problem.

  5. Really a good work... :-)