Terrific Trees - Companion Article

This article is a companion article to the video shown below 'Terrific Trees Using Woodland Scenics Armatures’ and describes some of the techniques with a little more depth. If you haven't already seen the video you can check it out below:

To start with you’ll want some tree armatures, as mentioned I find the 5-7 inch armatures to result in a much better eucalyptus tree however having a few of the 3-5 inch armatures provides a good variation ensuring your trees don’t all look the same.

Depending on the size of your layout one pack of the 5-7 inch trees and one pack of the 3-5 inch trees is probably all you’ll need. The way I use and position these trees is by placing them in the foreground of the scene and for the trees that will be further away in the background I use the trees I made solely using the Heki tree material.

For those types of background trees you can watch a tutorial video here:

And to be honest they are good enough to be foreground trees as well, having a mix of these trees adds a lot of definition to the scene and prevents the look of consistency in terms of all the trees looking too similar.

As an Australian I’ve always had trouble getting products like the Heki natural dry tree material, every once in a while I’ll order from overseas however a lot of companies won’t send them because they are a natural plant material however the Heki material is legally imported as aa hobby material and can be purchased from Australian Modeller for those in Australia.

For those of you who are overseas you can find this material from Gaugemaster called Seafoam or from Scenic Express in the U.S. and it’s referred to as Super Trees.

When it comes to designing the tree, the woodland scenics armatures are very versatile! In the video I’m making a eucalyptus tree however with a couple of slight changes you can make a very large variety of trees.

For example, instead of using the light cream color to paint the trunk use a medium brown or a beige color and all of a sudden you have a completely new species of tree. Try experimenting with the color of the trunk to model different types of trees.

Also try adding variations to the color of the foliage and the density of foliage, in the video I only apply a very light coat of course turf however I could have added the course turf then re sprayed the tree with spray adhesive and added an additional layer of course turf to have a more dense coverage and I could also use a medium green or dark green instead of the burnt grass color. You’re only limited by your imagination!

You’ll notice in the video I’m using a photo for reference when shaping the tree, this is very important and even though I live in Australia and I’m surrounded by eucalyptus trees every day I still find it vital to have a picture as a reference when actually sitting down at the workbench. Having a few different pictures helps as well because what happens when using only once reference image is the trees all of a sudden start to look very similar.

Don’t worry too much if you overdo it while pruning, there is an easy way to reattach branches, if you’ve seen a previous video of mine called ‘Ultra Realistic Trees’ you’ll notice that I have a technique of applying branches using super glue and baking soda. Basically to re attach the branch simply scrape the area where you’ll be attaching the branch to roughen up the surface and give it some tooth, next apply a drop of super glue on that spot, gel super glue works best, now press the branch into that area so the super glue oozes out from the sides and finally sprinkle some baking soda over the area to rapidly cure the super glue.

The baking soda also acts as a filler hiding any gaps, now you have an extra branch. This method also work very well for creating very unique trees using the woodland scenics armatures (a future tutorial).

The most time consuming part of making these trees is the process of attaching the Heki material onto the armatures of the Woodland Scenics armature. For me to apply the natural dry material it too anywhere between 15 – 20 minutes to complete, so yes it takes time however I ended up sitting in front of the computer and watching YouTube or in this case Train Masters TV videos while I worked.

Don’t underestimate the use of Hob-e-Tac, I initially hated the stuff because ages ago I used the product as advertised and made a bunch of trees only to return home from a hot day at work and find a bunch of the little branches had fallen off the tree, since that day I put the hob-e-tac on the shelf never to be opened again! Until now…

It doesn’t take much glue to get the branches to stick so one bottle will likely last you a very long time! And the addition of super glue ensures the branches won’t go anywhere. When I went out to take photos of these trees I had them in the car on the seat and even after driving across some rough roads with the trees being shaken vigorously the branches all stayed on… As I was driving I was watching the trees shaking and thinking oh no they branches are going to break! But they all held up, not one branch fell off!

The rest of the build process is quite straight forward, using spray paint works well to paint the trunks very fast and easily, just remember to hold the can at a distance when painting the trunk with you main color. That textured effect not only helps give the trunk a rough bark like texture but it also makes the surface look ultra matte! The paint I used was a semi-gloss and from looking at the tree you would never guess it was a gloss paint! I’d suggest spraying the paint at a distance onto some plastic to see how far away you need to hold the can before spraying your tree, different paints give different results. I’ve also used this technique with the more common Rustoleum paints as well and it’s the same technique I used for the road in Realistic Scenery Vol.5.

You’ll notice that I wait until the very end before removing the unwanted bits of foam and leaves from the trunk, I deliberately do this after spraying the tree with matte varnish because the spray adhesive remains quite tacky, when I try to remove the odd bits of foam before coating with varnish I found that more tiny pieces would fall and land on the truck as I was handling the tree because it’s still very sticky. By spraying first and then removing the small pieces any additional bits that fall won’t stick back onto the trunk.

Just something to remember is the final coat of matte spray will darken the overall color of the foliage, which is the reason to only spray a very light coat over the tree. Too much spray will significantly darken the canopy of the tree and may not give you the desired final color.

It’s something you might want to take into consideration when selecting the foliage color you use.

I hope you found something useful here and if you have any questions Feel ree to send me a message.

P.S.

That tiny little Koala was 3D printed using the Anycubic Photon 3D printer that featured in a past video.

Can you spot him in the photo below?

Downloads:

Download the files associated with the project. All files are included in a zip for convenience.

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