How To Make Trees

By Andrew Wycherley of Wargames Scenery World

Model_MG_andreww_b01This project shows how to make simple trees. It fits with my philosophy of using things that you can find around the house wherever possible. In this case, I used the stem from a bunch of grapes and the vine from some vine ripened tomatoes to form the trunks of the trees. Why? because I like to reuse stuff and because they actually look very natural and ‘real’ as the tree trunks. They have that natural look that is not so easy to get from wire – because they are natural!

The first thing to note is that they should be allowed to dry out thoroughly before use – I find that leaving them in the conservatory speeds the process up, or you could try the airing cupboard or the like. When dry they will be less flexible and generally tougher.

For the leaves I decided to use reindeer moss – widely available from wargames scenery suppliers or eBay. It makes good foliage and bushes and should be in every scenery makers materials box. You’ll also need some PVA glue, a craft knife, flock and/or static grass and a suitable material for the base. You can use MDF or hardboard for this, but I decided to go with foam as I thought I’d make my trees on rocky outcrops so they could be used on a hill if I wanted. One stem worked well as windswept tree exposed on a hill, so I went with it. I hence used some high density foam for my bases. You’ll also need some paint for the trunks and the base.Model_MG_andreww_b02Here you can see the basic raw materials – a grape stem on the left, a tomato vine on the right. The grape stem wasn’t ideally dried I think, but there you go – impatient! Its best to trim the stems to suit where they held the grapes. I used a pair of scissors to just trim back the stems a little bit so it would fit with the moss better. Once this is done, it is a case of selecting suitable bits of moss to fit on the ‘branches’ of the stems. I tried several pieces out per branch, wrapping them round where I could and generally trying for a good fit. It may be necessary to trim the moss a bit. You are looking for something that says ‘tree’ to you! When you are happy with the fit, coat the branches liberally with PVA and wrap the moss round them, ideally holding it in place until the PVA starts to hold.Model_MG_andreww_b03You can see this in progress for the tomato vine here. Just keep on going until the entire ‘tree’ is done.Model_MG_andreww_b04I left the trees aside to dry, and started on the rocky bases. I used some high density foam for this, an off cut I had from another project. I cut out two pieces, trying to shape the surface in a rocky effect using a hot wire cutter (in fact a Hot Wire Foam Factory hot knife cutter). You can use a bread knife or the like if you don’t have a hot wire cutter – but if you do a lot of foam based scenery making they’re a great investment.

Once cut out, I shaped them a bit more and added holes for the tree trunks to sit in. I then textured them – coating them with PVA and then sprinkling on various grades of sand, from coarse basing sand to fine block paving sand (good stuff for bases by the way).Model_MG_andreww_b05Once done, they were painted, using various Games Workshop paints – Chaos black undercoat, then progressively lighter dry brushing with Charandon Granite, Codex Grey, Fortress Grey and Skull White.Model_MG_andreww_b06

The trees were then glued in place – I didn’t use PVA for this due to the likely drying time,so I used my hot glue gun instead. This is ideal for sticking things that need strength and instant grab.

Finally, I decided not to paint the trunks of the trees, but instead leave them relatively natural, though I did give them a wash with Games Workshop Devlan Mud to give them some extra depth. I then put patches of PVA glue on the bases and added some static grass for the finishing touch. You can see in the pictures I used an off cut of grape vine stem to make a small tree with an autumnal color using yellow colored moss.Model_MG_andreww_b07

Here you can see the finished result on a hill I already had. I’m quite pleased for a quick set of cheap trees! Let me know what you think. I will certainly be making more.