Bonnie Dundee

Bonnie Dundee

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Tree Making

After the "Walk in the Woods" post, I got a request to show how I made the trees for that scene. So I have tried to set out the stages below.

I generally start in one of two ways. Either I use the twisted wire with a plaster based coating or I use natural materials - mostly harvested from my garden and allowed to dry. In 4mm I had used the wire method as this gave a great deal of control over the shape of the tree, for example, here are the two birches on Claterinbrigg;

However, in 7mm, because of the number of trees I will require, the size of the trees (especially in terms of the girth of the trunk) and the depth of bark which can be represented I prefer to use natural materials. I use a lot of cuttings from this plant;

Now I think it may be some form of Weglia - but if the truth be told, I have no idea. It does, however, produce woody branches, that make excellent trunks. So other than suggesting a visit to the garden centre to look for 7mm trees, I guess someone might be able to identify the plant. This is a cutting, simply trimmed to a kind of suitable shape.

The other component is some form of fibrous material. There are commercial offerings from Woodland Scenics and Greenscenes sell the very useful postiche and a course foliage fibre. The Woodlands material seems very similar to that found in cushion stuffing, only died green. As I wouldn't want it in green, I have used stuffing to show that it can be used. This is it teased out;

And then stretched out over the tree branches;

The fibres can be pulled and pushed into the required shape, remembering that trees form in different ways. Few trees actually look like the primary school tree shape. Many form their canopy in clumps, rather than in a single homogenous lump. So bearing that in mind the fibres can be built up to cover the branches. I then use black aerosol paint to give the first covering.

Even with the white fibres, this gives a satisfying grey appearance and would also tone down the Woodland Scenics green version. Whilst the black spray paint is still wet, I sprinkle on my first coat of leaves. In the photo below I have used Woodland Scenics dark green, Course Turf, but I have a variety of leave materials from a number of manufacturers.

The shape of the tree can be changed by trimming the structural branches or by adding others. I tend to keep off-cuttings as these can be hot-glued on to other trees to form different shapes. Once the branch structure and fibres are in place the routine is;

  • Spray black paint
  • first coat of leaves
  • Tweek any areas that need changes or adjusted
  • repeat the black paint and leaves
  • overspray with the cheapest of hairsprays
  • build up the leaf density to suit with leaves and hairspray
  • Final coat of clear acrylic spray
  • place into the layout and build up the growth around the base of the trunk

I hope that is some help.

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