Our friends over at Scattered Dice Gaming have also decided to go play in the desert. And made an excellent tutorial for making an orchard.
Here is my attempt at an orchard:
I decided to make the walls from gravel which I built up in layers using PVA glue and then painted.
I also added some scatter to the ground made from ground up dry leaves (Finally a use for that olive tree, dad!). First I sprinkled the leaves, then using a brush I cleaned up a bit. Then everything was fixed in place with scenic glue. The trees are made using Woodland Scenics armatures and Polyfiber. I glued their bases to the baseboard allowing you to remove the trees for better access.
Last year I had a terrain making binge, and hardly painted any figures. But I realized that most of my creations are unblogged and so I asked my self:
"If a terrain piece hasn't been blogged about, has it really been created?"
What began was a quest to replace the hideous Games Workshop trees that we use currently. They are made from what are basically bottle brushes that have been flocked. And I hate them, while they do look sort of tree like (for a given value of tree) some of them are shorter than a single story building. All of them are shorter than a two story house. Sure, every tree has to start somewhere but to me the "right" height is a lot taller. They would suffice for some sapling or smaller trees, but they don't make a forest.
"This feels good, being back in Michigan. You know, the trees are the right height."
I started with some research:
Making trees I'm happy with
My first success was inspired by a row of poplar trees that grow along the road that I have to take to the beach. I started by taking BBQ skewers which I wound steal wire around, then I fixed them in place with super glue. Once the wires wouldn't move I could bend them to make a good poplar shape. The whole armature was then covered in glue and a mix of sawdust and finely sifted clay. I didn't like the color of this so I ended up slabbing on a grey-greenish sludge wash made from pastel chalks.
Next was adding a finer branch structure. This was accomplished by cutting up "sisal yarn", that's used for decorative flower binding, and attaching it with spray glue. Once this was done I also went over it with static grass, probably 6mm. For leaves I used a mix of Jarvis green and yellowish Scenic Scatter. Jarvis makes "leaves" but I'm pretty sure that's not what I used, it was a non-foam sawdust based flock. I chose the one from Jarvis over all of the ones I have from Noch because Jarvis' has rounded edges. Noch fine leaves are amazing, but not something I had in my collection when making these trees.
Everything was sealed in with a spraying of "scenic glue". My current recipe for this is based on a video by Paepercuts. Since the trees are pretty realistically sized I decided to base them together, this both makes them more stable and discourages people from lifting them by grabbing the foilage. While the trees are pretty sturdy and can survive wargaming, grabbing them isn't a good idea.
These were bent into shape and spray painted. Then I used tacky glue to attach small pieces of my preserved weeds. Then I flocked this using spray glue and foam turf flocks from Woodland Scenics. Shirty wanted orange trees, so I used oranges also bought from Woodland Scenics.Making these first trees for Shirty I decided to seal, and get rid of tackiness, them with a spray varnish. Somewhere I messed up because they got frosty. After some cursing this was remedied by lightly dry-brushing the trees with a olive green. This both covered the frosting (which was concentrated on the highest points) and made the tree look better.
Shirty asked me to make more trees to fill the garden of our Moorish palace. These trees were made using a mix of Woodland Scenics plastic tree armatures (TR1121 & TR1122). I made them in the same way as the first trees, but on one of them I replaced the weeds with Polyfiber. The Polyfiber created a much denser tree, but it was very easy to use. The bag of fiber provides enough to cover quite a few trees and is quite cheap so don't go hunting for some weird replacement. The Polyfiber tree got red fruits, I also made more orange trees. But what I really wanted was a lemon tree.
When life sells you apples and oranges, you have to make your own lemons. I decided to use hemp seeds that I otherwise feed winter birds with. The only problem was that they were mixed with their shells. To separate them I poured them out on a big platter, which I set down on an incline angle. Then I brushed the seeds and their shells upwards. The heavier and roundish seeds rolled down while the shells stayed on the upper side.
I then painted the seeds by putting them in a plastic container together with some yellow paint. This got both shaken and stirred. Then I spread it out on a sheet of baking paper to dry. While it did clump a bit I ended up with some pretty nice lemons. Thinking back on the process I wonder if you can use poppy seeds (white for easier painting!) to create smaller fruits.
The trees for the garden were based in planters made by putting a piece of styrofoam on a coin and covering the edges with coarse gravel.
To provide shade for the denizens (and invaders) of Gazala I also made a few trees using some of the larger Woodland Scenics armatures (TR1123). The bases I made with foam-core around spare wood or styrofoam.
That was quite a forest, hopefully you didn't miss it for all the trees.