Fighting Gravity


Fighting gravity.  In modeling terms it’s the subconscious, omnipresent, urge for order and uniformity.  We can get away with it when modeling man made features such as structures, roads, and rolling stock.  We can’t get away with it when comes to scenery.  If we can’t overcome this innate urge, our results will indeed look like something man made, a park, a lawn, or a golf course.  This was recently brought home to me when I was putting some vegetation in front of a backdrop.  When I was done, I took a step back, and  the results simply weren’t convincing.  The trees we fairly close in height, shape, texture, and spacing.  I had to force myself to go back, fight the gravitational pull of the need for order, and break things up.  I was surprised how hard it was.

Overcoming this natural tendency requires two steps.  First, we need to be aware of it.  Second, we need to train ourselves to be a good observer and work from photos.  Take a look at the image above and make note of some of the signature features we should try to incorporate.

  • The stream isn’t straight but rather a series of S curves.  On the outer side of the curve the bank is undercut, on the inner side debris accumulates
  • The tree trunk diameters vary greatly
  • The tree spacing isn’t uniform (as modelers this something often overlooked)
  • The stream depth is very shallow with the stones on the bottom clearly visible.
  • Although it’s winter, green patches still exist and provide striking color contrasts
  • The wash has produced a shallow rock island on the inside of the S curve
  • Branch debris is everywhere
  • Underbrush and brambles are everywhere
  • Exposed roots show where trees have fallen over (scale tree roots can be modeled by uprooting the grass or English ivy in your lawn)
  • The soil colors vary.

Fighting gravity and adding the natural chaos found in nature will make a dramatic improvement in our scenery results.

Gravity 2