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Static Grass Layering System Explained

pro Grass Layering System Explained

Static grass as a product, will have the most impact you can have visually on
your layout, diorama, model, or project. It can transform a section of board
into an amazing landscape. There is a technique to it, but if you follow the
steps I write below you will be fine.

There are three KEY points throughout this article that will make your grass
look realistic.

The Baseboard

It does not matter what the baseboard is made from. It can be wood, plastic,
modelling form, fibre mould and so on. Even if you have the old scatter
materials or grass matts. it will work.

The Glue

This is one of the KEY products to the success of static grass. A word to the
wise, static grass does not like PVA Glue. Before you start to type an email to
me with your fits, hear me out. PVA is a rubber base glue, which even when
dry is moving. Over time this will harm the stability of the static grass, it can
peel, shrink and curl up at the edges. All this can have devastating effects on
static grass.


We use a plastic base acrylic glue, it can be applied directly out of the bottle
and spread with a brush. It dries fast (which can catch you out, but do not
panic if some parts dry you can cover it over in the next stage) and because it is
plastic based it will not shrink or peel.
This is called Basing glue, a thin layer of glue, for you first layer of grass.

The Grassing begins

So, you have your basing glue down, now it is time to lay your first layer of
grass. This is 2mm Basing Grass (we call it basing grass to help understand the
entire process, but it can be used on its own) it is normally a green colour (I use
2mm Spring). However, this is up to you, it is your model so you can decide,
but if you start with a green, it makes it easier to build the effect.

Static Grass Applicator

Right, here we go. There are so many on the market and choosing which one
to buy can be a mine field. But, if there is one bit of advice I will give is to make
sure you buy one with a hopper, one that the static grass is charged from
behind. You unscrew the lid and load the hopper quarter full. If you over fill the
hopper, it will not charge all the fibres and effect the performance of the grass.
The Fly swot tea strainer things are not static grass applicators, sorry harsh I
know, but true. The thing with them is the grass sits on the charge, and like I
have explained above, the grass needs room to move around to be charged.
Plus, the plate/sieve is the negative end, so the grass wants to go the opposite
way. With it laying on the sieve the power is in the wrong place and wants to
go upwards. Hence the hopper style applicator is the correct tool for the job.

Back to it

The glue is down, and your hopper is quarter full, you are ready to go. Now this
is where I blow your minds. DO NOT STICK A PIN, NAIL or SCREW into your
model. There is no need, it is an urban myth, the hopper is the negative end,
the crocodile clip is the positive end. Grass gets charged in the hopper, stands
upright, and falls out of the hopper. It is attracted to the positive crocodile clip
and sticks into the glue upright. As long as the crocodile clip is close to the
hopper, you will have great results, plus you will not have to repair the bit you
pull the nail out of. If you do not believe me, try it.


I will say that when I first started using static grass, I used to put the pin in the
model, and have videos and articles saying so. I must update these.
Time to switch the machine on and go for it! Keep the hopper around an inch
away from the glued area, no more than that, otherwise the grass might lose
the charge in the grass. Gently shake the hopper from side to side, and cover
the glue, it is important that you do not over applicate, another KEY point. This
will result in your grass not looking like it is standing up. Remember I said that
glue is the key.

Glue is the Key

You should have a nice layer of 2mm static grass on your model, that has
covered all the glue area. You do not have to wait for the basing glue to dry,
but if you were to brush glue over the top of the freshly laid grass, it will drag it
all up. So, you use static grass layering spray, a fine spray adhesive that you
spray directly onto the 2mm grass layer. This way you can start the project and
finish it, without waiting for any glues to dry.


I said glue is key and it is. Static grass will not work if there is no glue. This is
another common mistake most people do, just like when I said over applicating
the grass. If there is no glue, then the fibre will not stick, and will just fall flat.
So, make sure there is glue, but do not over spray, too much glue and it will
turn white.

Layering Spray

Shake the can so that it rattles, then add a thin layer on top of the 2mm grass
that you have already laid. Now add your 4mm green grass, I use 4mm Autumn
grass, it gives a great contrast to the 2mm Spring.

Here comes the third Key point

As we know grass in nature is not green. I will call myself a bit of an expert on
this being a Welshman – lol! It is important to mix the colours of your grass, so
you get the realism. Brown colours will break up the green and create a more
natural look. I use 4mm Patchy and 4mm Dead colours, do not go straight over
the top of each colour, spread them around and create patches.

Remember to spray layering spray each time you want a layer of grass.

The last stage. Or is it?

Time for the 6mm, I normally use 6mm Wild Meadow. This has a yellow brown
colour and brings out the under colours well. Same as before, apply static grass
layering spray, and applicate the 6mm on. Making sure you do not over apply.
Now you do not have to put this 6mm on, you might be happy with the results
you have, it is entirely up to you.


That is it – you are done and can leave it like that. In 4 hours or so it will be dry.
However, there is another process you can do at this stage. If you want to
create a rough embankment, or unkept sidings or even a march land, follow
these steps.

Time to get creative

It is really easy to do, use a small stick or pen and create divots in the grass you
just laid. Then spray with layering spray, you might have exposed the
baseboard, use the starting 2mm basing grass to cover over the area you just
did. This will hide the board and give it a thicker texture. Spray the area again
with the layering spray and apply either a Patchy 4mm or a Dead 4mm.
Covering the bumps – this will create natural looking tufts.

The finishing touches

You can now add some sponge foliage scatter to create thick vegetation or
low-lying bushes. I use Course Olive Green Foliage Scatter and Course Burnt
Grass Foliage Scatter. You can then add some fine flower flock for added detail.

The End

Hopefully you are happy with the results that you have created, and that you
are confident to go forward and make many more dioramas, layouts, and
models.


I hope you have enjoyed reading the article, this should give you the
confidence to produce some great results with static grass. The most
important rule to remember is, have fun, be as rough and messy as you like. As
I always say, if you make a mistake, it turns into a good idea. Remember you
are creating nature. There is no Rule.

Written by Martyn Rees

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