Saturday, August 20, 2011


Woodland Scenics Large Birch with textured base

I've been messing about with trees of late in an effort to dolly up my wargames table. With this in mind, I have embarked on a tree buying campaign*. This has bulked out my stock considerably and I think I've hit upon some good rules of thumb.

1. Differing heights. Previously my trees came in two sizes, now while the bulk of the woodland is still made up of these trees, the greater variation in the height is much more pleasing to the eye.

2. Differing types. I now have some birch as well as my more generic deciduous. I have aspirations to a weeping willow and an impressive oak, but they may be a while in coming.

3. Stick them close together. The smaller the base of the tree the more playing space you have left on the table. However, constantly picking up fallen foliage is disruptive as well. I'm using old Games Workshop 40mm bases because they are big enough to prevent even quite large trees from falling over, but small enough that it can rub elbows with an infantry unit in a five inch hex without too much difficulty.

4. Dolly up the bases. I have in times past stuck my trees to card bases with blu-tack. This is perfectly serviceable, but doesn't look very nice.

On the subject of dollying up bases, I've found that it's an excellent way of going through old paint. The chaps above were glued to 40mm bases and then had a thin layer of filler smeared across them. This was roughed up a bit and small pieces of cat little pushed into it. This is then given a wash of watered down PVA to hold everything together.

Here you can see some smaller trees which have been fixed two to a base. These fellows are at the next stage of the process. The chap on the left has been given a base coat of brown. I used to be quite particular about using GW Bestial Brown for this, but any old thing will do. I usually use whatever Vallejo comes closest to hand. Flat Brown and English uniform on this occasion, I believe. The base on the left has had a pebble added and has had a coat of what I've come to call "Constables Snow". This a heavy highlight of white, which breaks up the brown on the base. I don't know why it works but it does. Savage advised me to do this and he's a graphic design and knows whereof he speaks.

Paint the roots to match the trunk, this is not always necessary, but the birches would look a little odd without it.

And above, the finished product. These bases have had the "Constables Snow" treatment and then a few dabs of PVA and some static grass added. I've found less is more when using static grass as too much makes it look like you're on the ninth hole. You can use the grass to cover up any little slips where the white has been too heavily applied. The key thing to remember that that there is usually very little greenery beneath trees because they block out the light, so don't go overboard.

I added a sprig of lichen for some colour and when some greenery fell of the chap on the right I just added it to the base with a dab of PVA. And the job is OXO.

Oh and finally, a chap on the internet wanted a better shot of Rupert, the bear, not the chap, so here you are. Probably nipping inside to see if there is anything left in the wine cellar.

*I did think about writing "...which has borne fruit." But I thought better of it.


  1. Excellant job - now you can 'see the wood for the trees' . I'll get my coat.

  2. Trooper, come the Revolution there will be camps for chaps like you.

    Nice camps with a swimming pool and a view.

    But camps nonetheless.