Sunday 31 July 2016

Scratchbuilt trees

Along with buildings, good trees can really set off a tabletop game. I have finally gotten around to making some and thought I would share the results with you.

The starting point are the excellent Woodland Scenics armatures, which come in a bag, containing both the armature and a small base. The size I am using at the moment are the medium trees, which come in at around 3 1/2 - 5" high and are perfect for 20mm gaming. The trunk is first glued to the plastic base and then the whole tree attached to a Warbases 2mm round MDF base.

The only slight drawback is that the trunks are a little on the thin side and the join with the plug in base is also fairly obvious. To get around this, I build up a layer of DAS modelling clay over the plastic trunk and then score it with a sharp knife to get a good bark texture.

Once dried, small lumps of rubberised horsehair are glued to the various branches. I use Evo Stick, which I find does the job very nicely. The key here is to use several smaller pieces rather than larger chunks; this gives a more realistic spread to the foliage.

The horsehair is then sprayed matt black. When this has dried, I paint the tree trunk and main branches dark grey, followed by a heavy drybrush of light grey and a light drybrush of white. Finally the base is textured with black tile grout, covered in grit and sieved sharp sand. The base is then painted to match the style of my figures: chocolate brown basecoat, with successive highlights of orange brown, desert yellow and buff (all Vallejo paints). Finally some static grass is added to finish off the base.

The leaves are then applied to the horsehair. I find it is easier to do this at the end as it cuts down on handling once the foliage is done. By far the best glue is something called hob-e-tac. Specifically designed for the job it is VERY sticky and remains so for a long time, as you will find out if you get it on your fingers or an adjoining surface. Simply dab it all over the rubberised horsehair and leave for 15 minutes, before liberally scattering the leaf material over it. I use Noch leaves, which come in several different shades and can be mixed together in various proportions to give a nice variety of greens.

The final stage is to give the foliage a good spray of matt varnish (I use the Army Painter one), which, along with the hob-e-tac fixes the leaves in place very nicely. With reasonable handling, the trees will last for years. If, in the fullness of time, they become a little thin on top, simply touch up with the glue, add more leaves and then matt varnish.

All in all, I am pretty happy with the result, as are a couple of my customers, who have asked me to make some for them!

I hope that this post has been of some interest. Terrain, just as much as the figures, makes the game.