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How to Make a Sandy Desert Scene

sand australiaDennis from Brisbane in Australia sent in this question for readers:

“I am planning my layout around an Australian theme and thought I would include a Aussie desert scene. Has anyone any ideas for making realistic looking reddish sandy scenery like in the Australian outback. Could I use real sand? If you have any thoughts then please tell me the answer. Ta.”

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9 Responses to How to Make a Sandy Desert Scene

  • Tom Osterdocksays:

    Maybe using a brown grout and adding red food coloring.

  • Kenneth Mylcrainesays:

    I agree with the above comment, I also would use tile grout, it comes in all sorts of colors. I would mist water over it to stiffen it up so it will stay in place. I have used black tile grout on top of latex caulk to make scale asphalt.

  • Samsays:

    If you could drive to Buderim on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia, you could always just get some red dirt from there an sift it into different grades of soil.

  • Frank Bsays:

    This last reply is the simplest and most obvious. Collect some fine sand and rocks from the desert you intend to recreate. If it too is far away, find someone who lives there (or is going there) to obtain and send you some.

    Otherwise, use whatever sand you have, then spray it (before or after application to the layout, experiment) the colour of your choice. Powder paints can easily be mixed to any colour, diluted and sprayed with a simple (mouth blow) spray pipe (available from artist’s supply shops).

  • Frank Bsays:

    Another thought: if there is a model railway club in the area you want to model, probably someone in it will be delighted to assist by sending you some local sand and pebbles.

  • David Stokessays:

    Mate, use the real thing – the red sand of our deserts is really fine, and just the right colour. When I worked at Roxby Downs I collected 4 litres of the fine red dust from the base of one of our sand hills – perfect.

  • Henrysays:

    I use the real stuff, Lay it down and spray wet water on it then thinned glue. Looks real and is easy to apply.

  • Gio Donksays:

    At Bunnings DIY Stores in Australia you can get ochre colors ranging anywhere from brown to red to yellow and in between. These are found in the adhesive section (in fine powder form) for adding to concrete for making driveways and cement rendering of houses. Just ask the staff for ochres for coloring cement.

  • Kevin Chingsays:

    Hi Dennis I used a fine builders sand in the colour that i waned by mixing two different sand together until i got the look that i was after. Make sure that all the sand is glued down and take off any surplus with a vacuum cleaner, the last thing you want is any to find its way into the moving parts of the loco or rolling stock I also used some to weather some of the trucks etc so that it matched the desert.

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