Monday, November 14, 2016

The Quest for Shrubbery...

... Ok, maybe not a real shrubbery, but Trees are close, right?

As most of the local gamers around here know, I have had an obsession with finding some decent trees for the last few years. When I started my World War 1 collection I had the very clear idea of doing the Battle of Kitchener's Wood, which is an early war battle where there were still actual trees standing in the battle field.  These were old growth European Oak and Beech and were 30-60 feet tall.

All I had in my collection was a bunch of Woodland Scenic trees that were 3-6" tall and while passable as wargame terrain, they never really looked that great on the table.  At 3-6" tall they also didn't look like actual trees next to a 28mm scale figure as in scale they would be 15 to 30 feet tall.  What I wanted was something 9-12" tall.  I have spent years looking for something that was both realistic looking and cheap (or at least affordable for this cheap @$$ Ukrainian).

Well I finally gave up on buying something pre-made as anything I liked the look of that was used for model train setups cost upwards of $100 per tree!  I needed roughly 8-12 for my table so that kind of killed that idea, as while I was tempted my lovely wife would probably kill me if I spent a $1000 on little trees!  She is understanding and patient with my hobby spending but not that understanding!

Anyway, I found a method to create my own trees that I believe looks very realistic and is semi-affordable.  So, here is what I finally created...


This is obviously just the start of my collection as there are only 4 trees done so far, but I believe it shows what I am going for.  They are fairly large ranging from 8" to 11" tall and cover large areas of the table.


In this picture you can see that the tree covers huge real estate both horizontally and vertically.  This one is almost 11" tall and is roughly 10" wide at the top, compare that to the building which is 6" wide and 5" tall.  Now, this looks like correct scale in my view, unlike the normal woodland scenic trees I have been using.



The trees themselves are made up of real wood that has been baked to dry them out and sterilize them.  They are then cut and trimmed to shape and based.  Once based I applied a poly fiber mesh to them and then pulled and stretched it out until it was as thin and transparent as a spider web.  I then applied spray glue and flocked them several times.  I then clear coated them and finished off the basing.


While they are not super sturdy (constant travel and packing may be an issue) they are a lot sturdier than I thought they would be and should hold up well to the occasional packing and travel, and have already been dropped a few times and have held up very well.

Best of all, they work out to be "fairly" inexpensive.  Even with all the poly, flock, basing material, spray glue, and clear coating, my estimate is roughly $15-$20 per tree in materials.  Time wise it took me about 4-6 hours for the first one, but am now averaging about 2-4 per tree depending on the size.  I don't think it will get much faster as you have to be methodical with the poly or it just wont look right.

I may be biased, since they are mine, but.... I think these are some of the best looking model trees I have seen (short of some of the large $200+ model train trees from expert custom builders).  Like I said though, I am probably a bit biased, so what are your thoughts?


10 comments:

Greg B said...

These are really, really sharp Byron, but I would spend $5000 on trees before I ever spent four minutes trying to "bake" wood that did not lead to meat being cooked :)

Well done, your terrain skillz are off the hook my friend.

Dallas said...

My God Byron, those are amazing. As I've said before, the amount of hobby stuff you seem to get done would require multiple Byron clones already, so just clone another Byron and get on that! :-)

Byron said...

Thanks Dallas. Not sure I get quite that much done, I always feel like I never get enough done. Maybe that's just because I see your collection, Greg's collection, Curt's collection, and realize how far behind I am!!! As I say that though, I have 2 more posts coming in the next few days with more stuff (6mm team yankee and my Necromundia gang (finally!)), so I do get some stuff done, eventually :-)

Dallas said...

We've been at it awhile, Byron :-)

Pete. said...

They look great to me. Nice to see trees in a proper scale on a table.

Cheers,

Pete.

Curt C said...

Stunning work Byron! I think they look brilliant.

Rodger said...

Awesome! Very well done indeed.

Michael Mills said...

That's some seriously impressive modelling mate!

Umpapa said...

Excellent.

Kevin Holland said...

They look awesome, Byron!