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How to build a tree!

Since joining this forum I have been astounded at the quality of, not only the models on show but also the people who are members of this site!.

Some modellers seem to shy away from making trees and scenic dioramas for their models for different reasons. What follows is a SBS using a TREEMENDUS Tree Kit.

Take one TREEMENDUS Tree Kit. It includes all the materials required to make yourself a top quality scale model tree.


Take the wire

Tap the end on a flat surface to give this result.

Pull a few strands from the centre. This will be an anchor for the tree.

Put tape around the anchor and bend the wires upwards to create a root system. Not all trees have roots like this but it will give your model a bit of extra character.

Take one wire and wrap it around the trunk until you get to the point where you want the first branch. Take 12-15 wires and bend them down and outwards. These wires are now your first branch. Continue winding with the wire that was going up your trunk. This will now become one of the side branches. Then create a branch system as this.

Repeat the above step on the opposite side of the trunk slightly higher up. Next place a branch at the back, then the front and continue all the way up the trunk. Use fewer wires the further up you get.

The branch structure is now complete. This example is 11 inch in height but the wires can be cut prior to construction so you can get 3-4 smaller trees if you wish.

Next take some wire cutters or pliers and have some masking tape ready for the next stage.

Trim the wires but leave an inch or so stub

The whole tree has now been trimmed. This reveals something that already looks more like a tree. Note too that the trunk has been shaped to give a more natural looking result.

Any offcuts of wire are perfect for making branches to use as commo on your tanks.

Next take the masking tape and tightly wrap it around the trunk and lower branches. This not only bulks the trunk and branches up but also hides the wires wrapped around them.

Take the bark powder and glue and mix about a quarter of the pack of powder with a small amount of glue. Add a little glue at a time. The perfect consistancy should just stick to a mixing stick.

Starting at the top (so you can hold the trunk) paint the bark mixture onto the branches and trunk working your way down. The mixture contains all the texture you see here straight out of the bag.

When the whole trunk has been covered it must be left for 24hrs or so to completely dry.

Once dry, any blobs of bark on the branch tips can be picked off and the branch structure can be given a light spray with an aerosol or airbrush to make sure all the bare wires are covered.

I usually give the whole tree a wash with water colours to give a realistic weathered look.

This tree is for an exhibition model railway (it is going to be placed on an embankment, this is why the root system is set at an angle) I always add an aluminium pin which fits inside a slightly bigger one which will be fixed in position on the embankment. This allows the tree to be taken off the layout and transported/stored seperately.

Next is the process of adding the fine branch system and the foliage. Take the "canopy"

Pull a small amount off the plait and tease it into a open structure. Make up a batch, enough to cover the tree ideally and spray these with an aerosol type paint (this isn't crucial but does give the canopy more strength) which can result in a more open canopy.

Take one of the canopies and give it a good spray with hairspray. turn it over and repeat.

Take the scatter and sprinkle it all over the canopy, turn it over and sprinkle on the otherside too.

This is then placed on the branch structure you have previously made. You don't need to glue it on at this stage. Repeat the two above steps until the whole tree armature has been covered

Once the whole tree has been covered, take the atomiser (supplied with the kit) and screw it on the glue bottle. Give the whole tree a good soaking with the glue through the atomiser. This will turn the whole tree white but it will dry to a clear matt finish which is very durable. This stage also sticks the canopy to the armature. Try to avoid getting too much onto the trunk area and if possible dab any excess off with a tissue. Set aside to dry for approx 24hrs.

After 24 hours or so the tree will have completely dried.

The time has come to refine the tree. Using both hands gently pull at the canopy to give it a more open structure. At this point scatter will fall off the model as not all the scatter will have come into contact with the glue but this is ok as you are trying to give a nice open airy look to the tree. You can be fairly rough with it at this stage, continue teasing until you are happy with the look. Some people prefer a denser canopy and others a more open look. It is a matter of taste and somewhat dependant on the scale being modelled.

This photo shows the tree about half way through the process.

When you have achieved the look you want, trim any hanging and flyaway canopy off with scissors. It is worth taking your time over this step as this is the final refinement stage. It is worth noting that usually branches do not grow underneath the main bough so try to give your model mounds of foliage sat on the main branches. It may be neccessary to give a final spray of Scenefix glue through the atomiser to help keep everything in place. I also recommend giving the undersides of the canopy a light spray with black paint to give the impression of the shade underneath the structure.

Here is a angle that will never be seen when the tree is in place on the layout or diorama but does show how realistic the results can be.

This final shot gives a good impression of the scale of this English Oak tree.

Thank you all very much for taking the time to read this SBS demo. I hope it will encourage some of you to have a go yourselves. Any body wishing to purchase a Tree Kit should go to the TREEMENDUS website for further details.

Best wishes

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