Wednesday, 20 April 2011

From Abstract to Generic Trees


Back in my very first blog I posted I was painting some trees up for wargaming with. Here I am still painting trees, but after making what I called the "hero" trees for my Newten Town boards I'm no longer enthused by my earlier efforts. The trees on the above photograph now look very unsatisfactory to my eyes. I call them the abstract trees, because they are simple geometric tree like shapes, which are in no way representative of what a real tree looks like.

As a modeller, who wargames, the modelling aspect of the hobby is as important, if not more important to me than the gaming aspect. Mostly because I don't get to play as regularly as I did when I was young (teenager and early twenties being my definition of young). However, as I recounted previously the tree kits from Woodland Scenics come with a tacky-yucky glue that never quite sets. So I set my myself the task of finding an alternative glue that would grab the foam and secure it firmly. My hunch was that either matte gel medium, or Copydex latex glue would do the job, but which would be best?

First off I prepared forty Woodland Scenic tree armatures, just following the instructions in the packet i.e: remove tree base from tree armature, twist branches until you have a pleasing tree shape. Simple really. Above you can see the first twenty armatures ready to go.

First off I a tried the Copydex. Didn't like the brush that the container supplies, and it all felt a bit sloppy. Rather than just brush the glue on and dip into a bag of foam, instead I chose foam chunks and pushed them onto the armature one-by-one.

I repeated the task with the next twenty trees using matte gel. Again I chose to push on suitable chunks of foam onto the armature at random. To me it felt easier to apply the matte gel, probably because I got to use a brush of my choice. However, the matte gel wasn't as "grabby" as the Copydex, but overall it all felt marginally easier to apply.

However, after allowing both sets of trees to dry overnight, I did my my twizzle test (take tree and hold upside down as you rotate the tree rapidly between fingers), which showed loose foam coming off the trees. Not catastrophic amounts, but enough that I thought a coat of matte medium would help pull all the foam together on the armatures and make the trees stiffer, and therefore easier to paint.

As the above picture shows while brushing on the matte medium yet more foam fell off. I kept the results for each tree set, and on the left is the foam that fell off the matte gel trees, while on the right is the foam that fell off the trees that I used Copydex to glue the foam on with. Clearly the Copydex is the overall winner for the task of attaching the foam to the tree armatures, because it grabs better, less falls off when twizzling, and one can brush on extra matte medium gel with minimum foam loss from being tugged at by the brush while doing so.

Palm trees next...


  1. Interesting choice of glue. I've used the WS Tacky Glue before today - sticks well at the start but that's the best you can say as it never really dries and bits fall off weeks and months later...

    Maybe superglue gel would work?


  2. Hmmm, still seems like too much faffing about for me, but then I'm a gamer rather than a modeller or painter. Gamer says the first piccie is just made of WIN, tip out of bag, glue to base and play. If you want seriously nice looking trees without all this work, just Google Last Valley Trees.

    And yeah, he is out now :) and back in business.

  3. I did Google them and very nice trees they are too, but as I am a modeller and painter first, gamer second I think I'll be making my trees and painting them up to suit my terrain.

  4. What I meant Ashley is look at those trees, then try making your own. The trunks are thick twigs, with some sort of matting/clump foliage glued on. Gotta be cheaper than the way youre doing it.

  5. Good point. Unfortunately the horse has already left the stable on this one. :-)

  6. Hi, I have chosen you to receive the Stylish Blogger Award. The details can be found here:

  7. Why thank you very much, not sure how I earned that, but thank you. I feel very flattered indeed.

  8. I like the material used, will use it to make explosions, good work.

  9. First off, I'm glad I caught your bloglink and got take a look at some of excellent stuff you've been producing. I'm thoroughly inspired to try a few things with my own setup, once I get some more room to play with. Thank you!

    Second! The Scenics trees and foliage are both excellent to work with, very easy to get some great effects. Have you looked into the dead/autumn fine-leaf foliage? I've been putting a few together for my OGRE/Battletech setup, and the colours and textures on the finished trees look great for a less-green landscape.

    Third! (Gods, it's turning into a novel!) The solution I use for sealing armature trees was to spray two light coats of Woodland Scenics 'Scenic Cement' (the code is #S191, but the product is basically 60/40 watered down PVA glue) with an ordinary liquid spray bottle over the whole terrain piece. It doesn't change the look of what I did, but there's definitely a more solid feel to the whole piece and I won't worry quite so much when an Atlas careens through the scenery. There's a couple (badly taken) pictures of some finished tree stands, after they were sealed/sprayed in the latest post of my blog.


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