Saturday, February 14, 2009

Trees Made Easy

I have fought the battle of Trees for my miniatures battles for nigh on 35 years before I hit on this method. I assembled a fist full of assorted Nails, from 1 inch to 6 inches long. I hit them with metal spray primer, then sprayed them a dark brown. Check the blurry photo, heh, need a tripod... working on that. The Greenery is Clump Foilage from Woodland Scenics, torn into assorted chunks. Next the Largest clump is slid down the nail and a dab of glue around the nail, finish lowering the foliage over the glue and stop about 1 inch from the bottom of the nail. If there are large gaps, hold it out and look at the tree, if it looks like an open spot in the branching.. leave it, if its really bad looking a dab of contact cement and a small piece of another clump stuck in there to balance it out and you have a tree. Trees can be 1.5 inch to up to 7 inches if you mount the top piece of the tree to the top of the nail artfully. As usual I make small bases to mount 1 to 5 trees on. The 25mm western guy is for scale reference.

Next step is I Hot Glue the tree to the base which is thin plastic stock covered in pva, then covered in T-56 woodland grass mixed with left over foliage.

I like nails for this as they come with a ready made permanent disk on the bottom. Also they have the advantage that people learn to respect not banging their hands into the trees.. nails win impact studies.. The Tree to the right is done with a slightly different method for that Weed Tree look, such as Populars or other fast, tall, narrow trees. I brush the nail with Contact cement and then roll in clump foliage. If its a bit thin, spray with diluted pva glue, wait overnight, then another coat of contact cement and re roll to get it thicker, do not Mash the foliage onto the nail, you want the gaps and openings. To ease the process of the spraying pva on it, I hot glue to a temporary large sheet of plastic or old cookie pan, then spray away. Let dry overnight.

Next step, after trees are hot glued down, use any simple method to spread a bit of pva over the grass flock, finger tip, end of a brush or coffee stir stick to spread the glue, I try to avoid using the actual bristles of the brush as it tends to dig in or skip over the grass or otherwise seems to take longer. If the nail base gets a bit of glue on / around it to help hide any hot glue that might be noticeable otherwise. On goes the Flock and Turf, press it down, move the base and tree to the holding area to dry for at least an hour before lightly tapping the bottom of the base to knock off excess back to a collecting paper. I did my trees in groups of about 20 at a time, assembly line work style. I used all three of the different green shades clump foliage. You can after they are well dry, take a large brush and Lightly dry brush a similar shade of green over the tree to highlight it. I have had mixed results, but just mixed them into the mass over all and let them go.
So here is a shot of the Trees in a small copse of greenery that provide useful coverage for most any setting that needs trees. Typically I have a larger base, up to 12 x 8 inches done with flocking that the smaller bases can be put on. This allows my mass scale battle units to move into the forest base, set the small decorative trees to the side till the unit manages to move through etc., then move the small trees back in. No disputing where the edge of the forest is or was due to trees being moved around to get the block of figures positioned. In total I made up enough of these stands to cover 6 square feet. Reason being when I do a forest area, it IS a Forested Area, not a rolling plains with a few groups of trees. Also sometimes I host a couple of battles at a time and like to be able to not skimp on trees if they are needed. Finally I have bought large , flat plastic Under bed trays to put all the trees in. They get placed in fairly tightly next to each other and I have no real problem with them bouncing around while in the trunk of my car. If a tree should "break" off , I put it in the Extras box till I can access my Hot Glue Gun, peal the old glue off and zap it back on. A few Dead Trees also adds an element to the over all tree look.

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