Saturday, 4 August 2018

Tree building

Having being doing some clearing out, I gathered together all of the various uncompleted large trees that I had been collecting for the larger scales and set about sorting them out, basing them and doing a basic refurbishment.

The box included five large armatures from Woodland Scenics that had been twisted into place and already based, but the branches lay bare. They struck me as looking good for a winterised terrain setting, but I wanted mine ‘dressed’. I have always had problems getting clump foliage to properly stick on these things and building up the trees has subsequently been somewhat hit and miss.

Anyway, a new approach for me at least, was to hot glue that moss lichen stuff to both sides of the branches, spray with watered down PVA to set it (hanging the trees upside down on the washing line .... to drip dry) and then when fully dry, using one of those spray glues for (mounting photographs etc) onto the foliage and dipping the whole thing into Woodland Scenic course turf. The lichen gives the bulk and the turf gives a finer finish.

They look quite good on the table, but while the moss is a good way to get bulk, the PVA spray does not stiffen the moss in the same way as it does with clump foliage, so they are a bit soft and spongy and need a bit of careful handling. I will put a few coats of hairspray on them to act as a fixative for further firming and see how they get on. Anyway there are a couple of them front / left in the photo and I just mention it here in case anyone else is experimenting with foliage.

The largest widest tree is something I made myself from twisting wire into an armature and then using Milliput Putty to coat the wire for a bark effect. Interesting to do, but I doubt I will be making any more!

The rest of the trees are either those perfectly formed 'loo brush' type trees or the ones that 4Ground do in packs of 3 - 4 with a larger base. I like the 4Ground trees and each time I go to a show, I get one pack (from Colonel Bills) to slowly replace the 'loo brush' types.

For bases I use a mix of plastic rounds (Renedra Plastics) for those trees that come with a foot that can be glued to a base and 2mm MDF rounds (Warbases) for those that just have an exposed wire trunk and need the base drilled to take the twisted wire. All the bases were given the same basing and flocking materials, so that there is some continuity in presentation. Hot Glue is your friend because you can draw some threads out that can be painted up to look like roots.

As part of the 'refurb', I added some watered down PVA, followed by hairspray, to a few of my ‘horse hair and heavy flock’ terrain features, bought from The Last Valley at the Phalanx wargame show a few years ago.

For the relatively small amount of time needed to do all of this, they should end up giving a decent long term presence on the table. The question is where to store them now :-)

You may enjoy a browse around my other web space called ‘COMMANDERS’



  1. Several good suggestions that I must give a try sometime. My few attempts at putting foliage on armatures end up looking like misshapen topiary. Your results are rather better.

    1. Bill, my sole reason for posting was that I felt I couldn't be the only one who was struggling to get clump foliage to universally stick to those plastic armatures with ordinary glue. They look better on the table than the camera suggests, so worth a go, just need a method to make them feel firmer to hold.

  2. This a great bang for your effort and cleans up the game space too!

  3. Jonathan, their 'presence' V effort ratio is certainly favourable, a nice boost to the table.

  4. Great looking collection of trees! Good variety!
    I too could never get bare trees to look right. Now I buy the big woodland scenics premade tree packs or anything with trees leaves already attached.

  5. Thanks Stew, I have a load for the smaller scales, but these allow for a bit more ‘presence’. I suspect the bought stuff will get better and eventually nobody will make trees or put bits together.

  6. Very nice and useful foliage, Norm. Never can have too many of these.

  7. Thanks Dean, I hope the lichen method holds up. I am wondering whether artists fixative is stronger than hairspray.

  8. Some useful suggestions and tips there. Particularly liked the use of the washing line.

  9. Thanks Peter - though a slight caution, the trees will drip a green gloopy substance, so doing it above one's poshest wooden decking might bring a spot of trouble!

  10. As others have said, so nice ideas there Norm. Artists fixative is stronger than hairspray, but not much more and costs considerably more.

  11. Thanks Steve, so just extra coats of hairspray then :-)

  12. Great looking trees,I'm reforesting myself,my first batch of trees were twisted and painted pipe cleaners with lichen unfortunately when I had a flooded basement even though my trees were all in really useful boxes they all rusted and the branches fell off! The wire in pipe cleaners is really thin to be honest,Im still using them but they look impenetrable,as my nephew says like mirkwood! I might try ripped up bits of dyed sponge next as it has more body and doesn't droop like lichen it's a good idea about sticking the turf on and I agree hairspray is the way to go!
    Best Iain

  13. Ian, dyed sponge sounds like an ideal material and I am wondering whether shredded or chopped up pan scrubber stuff would be similar - only pre-dyed! For railway enthusiasts, they keep their trees out … untouched, be we gamers do insist on setting up and packing away, so they need to be strong enough to survive that :-)



Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.