Forest for the Trees
by John "Scarab" Salmond
Cautiously, we advanced on the area where our scouts had last seen the enemy. Surprise was on our side as we took every effort to stealthily approach our prey. Just as we were rounding a small copse of trees the enemy sprung their trap and rolled up our flank. I am all that is left of my unit. They hunt me still...
This was a project of necessity. I needed a durable forest piece for my Circle army to enjoy. I wanted it relatively easy to make and easy to reproduce. One of my frustrations is that with most purchased trees the base of the pine tree is to close to the ground to let my War Beast move comfortably through the woods. Well this project is simple and shows how to extend the trunks of purchased trees so the beast can move freely throughout and hopefully make trees look good.
Purchased pine trees
Heavy gauge wire
Step 1: The Base
First off, you will need to cut the Masonite to the shape you desire. I used a large rasp file to slope the edges of the masonite. You will want to seal it with acrylic clear coat spray before you apply anything to it to prevent it from warping.
Take your trees and remove the base they have (if any) while leaving the trunk. Take at least three pieces of wire per tree and twist them onto the trunk. Using pliers to hold the wire will help in the twisting. Make sure the wire is long enough so you have plenty to fan out on the masonite for a base. Once you have twisted the wire finish up by gluing the wire to the trunk. Once that is dry bend all the wire pieces at the base in a 90-degree angle in different directions so the tree can stand on its own. Place the tree on the masonite and use Celluclay to attach the tree to the base and cover the wires. Do this for all of your trees. You can also use the Celluclay to make the ground a little uneven if you prefer and this would be the time to attach any large rocks to add character to your base. You can also add real tree branches at the time to look like fallen logs. After all of it is dry take some Celluclay and cover the wires for the trunks. Take the hobby knife and work the material to look like bark. You can do this by making long strokes parallel with the trunk. Make sure you don't have any Celluclay sticking out too far (1A & 1B).
Step 2: The Paint
Paint the trunks with a dark brown and then dry brush with lighter browns and maybe some grays if you prefer (2A). Paint the rest of the landscape. When painting real rocks I like to paint them first, and dry brush with several colors very lightly working my way to a light color. I also like to randomly place small rocks and sand over the base, paint them up and then leave them exposed (2B).
One thing to remember is that the needles on the pine tree are acidic and will kill most vegetation around the trunk in some cases (2C). You can also add moss to the trunks and fallen trees as well. I mix several colors of static grass before gluing it with white glue to the landscape. I also place real roots randomly around the base (2D).
This is a very simple tutorial but I like the results for easy forest terrain pieces that I can reproduce quickly. If you have any questions feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org