These are my trees
There are many like them, but these ones are mine.
In his column in Miniature Wargames Neil Shuck said that he had bought some Woodland Scenics tree armatures but not had any luck turning them into trees. As I have figured out a way of making trees that look, in my opinion, good enough, I thought I'd write a piece about how I do it, by way of being a small thank you to Neil for the countless hours of fun his podcast has given me.
So, first of all, the components. I bought foliage from Javis through the wonderful folks at Spirit Games, my FNSLGS (Friendly Not So Local Games Store. The Woodland trees came from my local rail road hobby store MJ Hobby. I also use coins and washers glued to the bottom of the bases, sand for texture and mixed flock on top of that.
|Foliage from Javis|
|Tree armatures from Woodland Scenics|
This is not a quick method, but it gives good results. If you want quick, just spray the armature with glue, dunk in a bucket of flock, spray with fixative and you are done. I use this slower method, mostly, to be honest, because I have no space where I can spray glue. Oh, and because it is fun.
Hold the armature in one hand and then either:
1. dab some super glue on the end of a branch, grab a piece of foliage and impale it on the branch
2. dab some super glue in a forking branch and wedge the piece in the fork
3. dab some super glue on a branch and press the piece against the branch for a few seconds.
4. dab some super glue on a piece of foliage already attached and press a new piece against it.
When doing 3 and 4, take care not to press hard enough for the glue to soak through the foliage and on to your fingers...
Continue building up the foliage until you are happy with the results. I suggest looking at trees of the type you are trying to recreate to get an idea of how much of the trunk and branches you can actually see and how much is covered by leafs. In my experience, very few trees are green blobs on a stick so why should they look that way on our table?
Next step is to harden the tree. So far, we have glued pieces of shredded sponge to plastic. This will not hold together very well at all. Take white glue, mix with water to milky consistency, add detergent or whatever you prefer to use to break surface tension, then apply all over the foliage and leave to dry for at least 24h. Once dry, this will turn into one solid clump of shredded sponge glued to plastic. This WILL hold together.
Once the foliage is dry, glue the trunk into the base and glue the base to a suitable coin or washer. I then put glue on the base and dunk in sand to give texture, paint the sand "earthy", apply a new coat of glue and cover in my "ground cover" flock mix.
An alternative way of doing it is to glue a few tree bases to a larger base, build up some ground texture and leave the trees loose. The WS tree armatures fit snugly in the holes in the bases when in use and can be pulled out, allowing the scenic bases to be stacked for storage. Below is such a base made from an old CD.
And this is what the finished tree looks like. I did not bother to paint the trunk or branches as they look good enough, but if you want them to look better, by all means paint them. And if you want to create a certain type of tree for variation, this is an excellent way. See the birch below.
That's it. I did 11 trees of various sizes in a few evenings. The last batch I did have been used in games across half of Sweden for five years and held up fine, I am pretty sure these will too.