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Modelling snow

10041 Views 12 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  kiwionrails

Modelling Snow

Hello all,

Snow is a significant form of precipitation on any Alpine railway and so as a modeller of the Austrian and Swiss national railways then I would love to have a section of my layout representing winter.

Has anyone tried modelling snow and can they recommend a technique? Have they seen it really well done on an exhibition layout anywhere, or on someones website?

One advantage of snow is that it covers everything uniformly so once you find a convincing way of doing it then modelling a large area of wintery terrain becomes quite simple - just place all the trees, cars, black paint for paint roads, houses, streetlamps and anything else you want to see poking out of the snow...and then blanket the whole lot by your preferred method!

Which brings me back to the tricky bit, the so-called preferred method? A search of google yielded some options mainly from model wargaming websites, which I have virtually copied and pasted to here:

1. Silicate-based "snow" flock by Woodland Scenics etc. designed for model railways.

2. White "Celluclay". If you want a dusting of snow you can use your usual ground cover methods and then, after a soaking of dilluted white glue or acrylic modeling medium, sprinkle on some "marble dust." IMHO, is the best small scale representation of snow.

3. Paint the ground white, then cover in a grey flock, and drybrush white. This is simple but crude.

4. Durhams water putty. Powder mixes with water and dries rock hard. Mix and apply to base. Sculpt snow drifts etc.. at this time. When dry, paint white.

5. Games Workshop employees use fine sugar-substitutes. Sprinkle on and use PVA glue to hold in place.

6. The best method is finely ground marble dust and it can be bought in bags from model railway suppliers. It even sparkles!

7. Pre-mixed tile grout. It dries snow white in no time, and looks like snow.

Hmmm. Plenty of ways of doing it then! But which will work best in N scale or H0 scale? The marble dust sounds particularly good...?

Being a terrible humbug* (
) I'm not trying to model Christmas here, just an ordinary winter day/night with freshly fallen snow (i.e. not very dirty!!) so it will probably be fairly mountainous terrain or a forest etc. between two tunnels in a mountain valley.

*What a festive topic this is, ho ho ho!
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I too intend to model snow on my US layout, and have done a fair bit of research on the topic. I've been advised that marble dust is not the sort of stuff you want to be inhaling.
I intend to go with Woodland Scenics snow which apparently will look a bit grubby before too long and will need refreshing. If it gets dirty I'll vacuum it up. Unfortunately that'll get a bit costly, but I do like the idea of having fresh snowfall in different places from time to time. I don't want a heavy snowfall, so I doubt I'll be using putty or plaster, although experiments suggest that dry plaster powder looks pretty good when scattered around.
There's bare plaster in this photo, mixed and used as landforms. It's not intended to be an example of good snow, but I think it does show potential. Chiselled or sanded, it can look quite convincing, in my opinion. Certainly when I've sprinkled a little plaster powder over grasses etc it has looked pretty good. I'll have to experiment some more.

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