Monday, 29 July 2013

Trouble with Trees

It's been one of frustrating times on the wargaming front. Do you ever start a project (or a project within a project?) and it does not go quite according to plan? I decided to start making trees for the Brecourt Manor boards over the weekend and in my minds eye I knew exactly how they would turn out, or so I thought!!!

Now I've mentioned previously I'm using the woodland scenic trees for the bases, for two reasons mainly; I've used them before and I think they are okay; they are easily attainable from local shops should I need more foliage/armatures etc.. Plus of course the tree armature plugs into the base and this meant I was able to adapt them to make them removable from the boards should I so wish. So it begins.....

So I sat down with armatures and clump foliage intending to spend Saturday afternoon making the twenty or so trees I need for the boards. Firstly I decided to apply the clump foliage with superglue. I had previously used Woodland Scenics own Hob-e-Tac glue and was not particularly impressed. It quickly became apparent that the superglue was great for holding the foliage BUT I was going to need a lot of it and it was not very cost effective. So I turned to the Hob-e-Tac. What I produced was this;

Now I was not too happy with the result and since I wanted to build up the amount of foliage on each tree, I was not too sure Hob-e-Tac would be upto the job. So I considered bulking out the tree with a 'packing' material. I considered using steel wool and then gluing extra foliage to that. Now I couldn't find the steel wool but did find a few pieces of rubberised horsehair which I had bought from Antenociti's Workshop a couple of years back. I had intended to experiment with it for making hedgerows but settled on using clump foliage instead. So I added it to a couple of the armatures;

This one had no clump foliage added, but on another a stripped back the clump foliage and added the horsehair over that.

In each case I used PVA glue to stick the horsehair to the armature. Now I had a dilemma. How to stick the foliage to it and what foliage to use. Now if you are UK based (and probably a few who are not will know the company I'm referring to, judging by a few TM posts I read over the weekend), you will be aware of the 'Last Valley' terrain. Never bought any of it myself, but see it quite a lot at shows and the club, 'Wyvern Wargamers', has quite a bit of this terrain. So looking at my trees thats what came to mind. So from what I could remember of that terrain the trees seem to be horsehair covered with flock.

So a hunt on the internet and I found a few references on model making/railway forums to using hairspray to fix the flock to the rubberised horsehair. Then I spotted this which I should have remembered markswargaming-anythingbutaone. Mark's very fine tutorial goes into detail about making some boards for Saga and using hairspray has an adhesive to hold the flock. Can also be found here saga-scenics. So grabbed my can of cheap hairspray (no laughing please, gentleman) and sprayed away. I also used Daler & Rowney fixative (just because I could) and then sprayed the tree with Woodland Scenic Cement glue. I was not entirely convinced hairspray would hold the flock. So I was left with this;

It was rushed and a little bit messy. It will need tidying up. I also did not paint the trunk. Mainly because they are not really noticeable when being used and the area around it will be covered in foliage/flock. But I was not entirely happy, it looked like a clump on a stick. So having already glued rubberised horsehair to four other trees I ripped it all off and started again. This time I was a bit more selective in placement of the horsehair.

I have, after spending a few minutes looking at real trees, placed the horsehair much more carefully on each individual branch rather than covering the whole tree, also painted the trunk though it may not be obvious in the photo. Flock was applied as before but no glue used this time. I did three trees in this fashion and this was the result;

Please ignore detritus in the background.

Now I have been round these trees with a pair of scissors to trim away any straggly pieces of horsehair both before and after flocking.

Now follows a comparison shot the two different types of trees;

See what I mean about the one on the left looking clumpy? The second batch I feel look more realistic, and I'm far happier with them.

Now I hadn't used glue on these three trees since the Woodland Scenic spray cement can be messy. So a further trawl of the internet brought up this trouble at the mill, another excellent tree tutorial but that led me to this Treemendus Models. So I have ordered some of the glue to give it a go, after the good reviews on Trouble at the Mill.

So trees with rubberised horsehair for the foliage it is. A couple of things to mention before I finish. I did spray the horsehair black before applying the tree. The stuff I had was a light brown colour, so I dusted it with black spray paint, rather than smother it. The tree armatures I sprayed grey with Halfords grey primer. Then washed with Devlan Mud, followed by Thaka Green, drybrushed with Rotting Flesh and Catachan Green and a final wash with Badab Black. I'm using up my old GW paints on terrain. I was just trying to achieve the grey/green colour that most bark seems to be (at least in the UK).

Horsehair can be found at these suppliers;

Treemendus models

Antenocitis Workshop


Unless you know a re-upholesterers. Thats it for now, more to follow.



  1. Treemendous. I admire your determination to get it right and it was worth it, the trees are excellent. Thanks for sharing and letting us learn by your mistakes.

    1. Thanks Pat. I appreciate the support. I'm finding a lot of learning curves on this project, but all good.

  2. Those are looking really nice. Making trees that actually look like real trees has been something I've been struggling with for years now. I've considered using horeshair before but you've sold me on it now.

    1. Thank you. As you can see took a little bit of trial and error, but pleasing results can be achieved.