Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Venus Jungle Trees

Inspired by Tom Terrific's jungle post I dug out my Venus Jungle Trees for a how to on the way I made them. I wanted Huge trunks, Really big, to be different from all the other twist wire type trees and typical Tree From Plastic Plants that I usually build. The heart of the tree is a Dixie cup, I didn't have a large one on hand for the assembly pics but did have a medium one to use as an example. I liked the cone shape of the cub but of course it has a waxy surface that not much will stick to for more than a bit, let alone paint will just run off its water base. To beat the problem and get something going I covered a cup in masking tape and noticed immediately that it would not go around smoothly. Hah! Shaping the tape as it went on I could form the start of ground rootings. These gave the trees a more "real" semblance that they were rooted to the the ground, and the tape sticks really well to the wax surface, in turn providing a surface that you can glue and paint on with ease. Using short pieces of tape, which work much better than a long continuous piece, you build up the effect as shown in the picture below.

On the picture to the left is the final layer of taping to the top. Next I got out the Hot Glue gun and built up some extra roots on the tape. I used a Large Hot Glue gun for the extra rooting that I applied over the tape seam edges of the Ground roots. Next I applied some caulking from the Kel Seal tub. The tear seams of the tape add texture as I use the Kel Seal, or any latex paintable caulking to smear over the surface. Tapping the gooey surface with your finger puts lots of texture / paint catching surface coverage to the side of the tree trunk. Still no base at this point, so I was tempted to carve out a hollow and then glue some Floral foam up inside so as to give a 3 dimensional hollow area, but skipped it for now, but is well worth a follow up sculpt. The tapping, hot glue and caulk application area a matter of minutes to do, you can of course do singles or mass produce them. A smear of Kel Seal on the top and touch of paint to it all makes the growth on top fill out better and gives a better surface to glue it all down with more .. Hot Glue!

To the left is a fast coat of Flat Brown that is not dry yet, from Rustoleum spray can. But I wanted the texture of the bark to be really visible so the wet shot. You could of course use any color you wanted to give it more of an other world feel, but then having some of the items "look" familiar while the rest is strange, I think, hooks the players into the terrain a bit more. Next would be to dry brush some highlight colors and attach to a base of your choice. I used a stiff plastic with beveled edges but hit a snag when I realized that I didn't want to just flock it with the usual green, as I too was seeking more of an alien setting. So, wandering about in the garden supply section of a Orchard Supply store I came across a bag of GREEN MOSS for hanging basket potting. As it was only a couple of dollars I figured to give it a go and see if it would look good as dead leafy matter under the trees. I brushed some contact cement onto the base, plunked a large amount of the moss onto the base and pressed firmly all over the base, let it dry for an hour and then pulled off the excess and hit with some diluted pva glue to hold it down. Over all I feel it gives a nice effect. I have to go back and add a few fallen blueish fruits to the ground as litter, maybe paint them a bit blackened as they rot , some split or chewed might also fit the scene.

The toppings of my trees were what you see, the green plastic leafy stuff with the purplish beads representing I have No clue but came apart easily. I then took a bit of purplish paint and gave a dry brushing to all leaf edges, this to give them more in common with the "fruit" of the trees. I envisioned them as the Date Trees of Venus. I glued the fruit masses to the top of the Dixie up to cover most of it, then hot glued the branching's in as seemed to fit and fill out in most all directions. A few tiny leaves were hot glued directly onto the trunks lower down for character. You can see how the moss filled out the base here in this picture, Dusty must be detained by something as he didn't make it into this picture for some reason, hmmm perhaps friendly natives??
Ah, there he is coming out from behind that tree, mystery solved, but also showing a full sized tree. My Rule of 3 is that any scenic piece needs three colors to set it off from being just a plain piece. The Green Purple and Brown is a good start for meeting my minimum of 3. the Sprig of yellow and orange at the very top like a flower stamen gives it a bit more character with out taking away or overpowering the piece. A rather involved piece with more time spent figuring where to place the clusters and leaf branches than assembling the trunk and bases. More of the fruit clusters were added After the branches were all complete so that there were not Gaps in the foliage over all coverage.
And There you have it.


  1. Awesome work. Mind if I post a link to this article on my Gaming Terrain and VSF blogs?

  2. Feel free to link any of my articles you wish :)