Tuesday, January 8, 2019

`Twas the Weeks After Christmas

It's been mentioned on a couple of different forums that the days after Christmas are a great time to pick up bits to make wargaming terrain.  Many decorative items for the season are discounted, and are many times the perfect scale for modeling.

In my case, I happened across some Christmas trees at 75% off.  For about $6 and a little work, I was able to add to my tiny but growing forest terrain.

Improving the Base
The first photo shows the tree as purchased, right out of the bag.  Each one is a basic bottle-brush tree with a bit of white speckle to make them look Christmassy.  The first step to moving them from decor to terrain was to add a larger base in order to keep them from toppling over.  Next, I added some air dry clay to blend the plastic tree base into the new wooden base.

Improving the Tree
In the second photo, I've given the trees a coating of brown craft paint to eliminate the white snow look.  I didn't have a rattle can of brown handy, so I used a brush, stuffing the paint into the needles.  This actually worked pretty well, as it pushed the needles different ways, roughing up the uniform cone into something a little more natural.

For the base, I added some more brown paint.  While the paint was still wet, I dipped the base into a bowl of flocking/ballast mix.  Once this was dry, I again used paint as a sort of wet glue, and added some crushed leaves and green flocking to simulate fallen pine needles.  The leaves are from a batch I made using autumn leaves from my yard a couple of years ago.  Added to a blender, then sifted into different sizes, dry leaves make a great natural ground cover.

To add the greenery, I dunked the trees into a mix of PVA glue and water, then rolled them in clump foliage.  This bit was messy, and I had to force the the foliage into the needles with my fingers.  In the end, however, I liked the look.

The final step, once everything was dry, was to dunk the entire piece in another batch of watereddown PVA.  This helped seal everything together, and make them quite a bit sturdier for wargaming.  I've had no problem picking them up, moving them, or even tossing them in a box without more than a couple of loose bits falling off.

For my first attempt at trying this sort of process, I'm happy with how they turned out.  The scale is good, and they look much less artificial than they had originally.  In fact, I liked them well enough that I returned to the store to pick up another size to add some variation to my little forest.

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