The old (broom) forest
Like most gamers I have a stash of shop brought trees, but have always thought it would be good to make your own to the shape and size you want.
I first heard about this way of making trees from Ebobs website, although he briefly describes how to make the trees in one of his forums there are no pictures, so I had a go at making some using his technique but adding a few touches of my own. Here are the results.
Materials and tools usedA broom head, note this must be the old style of broom made with coconut fibres not the newer man made plastic bristles.
- Thin wire, I used some galvanised garden wire I picked up from “the range” which is a cheap discount store that stocks everything.
- Pistol drill,
- Wire cutters,
- Black spray paint,
- Flexi bark, available from Antenociti’s workshop. It is a kind of plaster that when applied looks like bark and covers the Miliput.
- Tree foliage, again from Antenociti this comes in various shades.
- Scatter Grip, also from Antenociti this is a very tacky glue.
- Scenic cement in spray bottle,
- An old strip of thick cardboard or off cut of polystyrene,
- Thick Card or thin MDF board used for basing
- File/ sandpaper,
- Jigsaw (optional)
- Hot glue gun,
- PVA glue,
- Flock and other standard basing materials.
Cut a length of wire basically two times the height of the tree you want plus 2 inches (the bit you will hold in the drill chuck) i.e. if you want a 4 inch high tree cut a piece 10 inches long, a 6 inch one cut 14 inches.
Fold the wire in half.
Cut the broom hairs using wire cutters and fit them centrally into the top part of the gap between the folded over wire. You can pack the hairs in, as the more you put in the fuller the tree will look, it may take you a couple of goes to get the correct amount for the look you want.
Pinch the bent up end of the wire in a vice. Be careful when doing this as if you don’t keep the tree level all the cut broom hairs will fall out.
Grip about an inch of the two ends of wire in the drill chuck and slowly pump the drill. Don’t just squeeze the trigger because this could cause the wire to go too tight, bend and eventually snap. Again this step does take a bit of practice to get right. The two inch pieces you held in the vice are ideal to use for “roots”¨ when basing. Sometimes a small piece of wire is left where you held on to in the vice, I usually just snip that off and drip some superglue on the top just to make sure the fibres are held in place.
Using scissors trim the tree to shape. When doing this make sure you look all round the tree even from above to ensure you get a good and even shape.
Mix up some Miliput and roll it around the wire to form a trunk, you could sculpt some texture to make the bark at this stage but I’m going for the quick option of flexi bark.
Apply the Flexi-bark make sure you use and old brush when doing this. Poke the “root” part of the tree onto the off cut of polystyrene/card this will stop you getting your fingers covered in Flexi-bark and also gives them somewhere stable to dry. I usually give the trees a couple of coats of bark.
Spray the whole model with black spray paint and allow to dry. Remember to do this outside or in a very well ventilated room.
Paint Scatter Grip over the outside of your tree, try to get a good even covering. Avoid getting any on your fingers as this stuff is really sticky.
Pour your chosen colour tree foliage over you tree, I tipped mine into an old take away box and just kept picking the flock up and sprinkling it over the tree. Keep rotating the tree until it is covered you could just dip the tree in but be careful not to get too much onto the tree as it could look lumpy. (If you got any Scatter Grip on your fingers now you will realise why I told you to avoid it).
After the Scatter Grip has dried spray the tree with scenic cement. You can buy this stuff or make it easily by mixing roughly a 2/3 water 1/3 PVA glue. This will protect your trees and stop the foliage falling off when being handled.
Dry brush the trunks of the trees. Up to personal taste what colours you use. I wanted a standard dark brown look so used Scorched Brown from GW.
For this article I’ve based my trees in two ways. First up is the easy way. Just cut a circle out of some thick card, Make it a little larger than the diameter of your tree. The other option is cut out a random shape in some thin MDF using a jigsaw. Using this method you will have defined shape and boundary to your wood when using them in a game. Using a file put a small chamfer round the edge of the base, this makes the base blend into the terrain better. Stick the trees in position using a hot glue gun, you will have to hold them in position for a while until the glue cools.
Next add any features such as rocks or ruins to the base on these I’ve just stuck a couple of pieces of slate to one of the bases. Cover the base in PVA and dip into your pot of flock, shake off any excess and allow to dry. When dry paint around the side of the base to match in with you terrain boards. (Note I didn’t paint the MDF base and it sticks out).
At this point you can add any other terrain items to the base such as bushes, tall grass or fallen leaves to make them look more realistic.
Spray the base with scenic cement to hold all the flock in place.
Here is a couple of photos of the trees in action well not action just standing there really
Reproduced with permission from Conrad Stockey, the dark rider from TheLastAlliance.com