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Posted - 03/22/2005 :  5:36:31 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Yeah, Bruce, I know, and I would hate to be the cause of such anxiety. But, ya know, I ain't a gettin' any younger and I've had so many layout starts and stops over the years that I want to get one HO layout at least close to completion before my eyes get so bad I have to switch to On30. So, I just keep plugging along at this one. And even though this is the third version (sort of) of the trackplan shown at the top, it's the so far the most fun. And ain't that what this hobby's all about?

Country: USA | Posts: 2445 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 03/23/2005 :  11:21:35 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
I have used the photocopy technique for a few kitbashing projects, and I like it. If I had a better ability to 'visualize' the possiblities, I would do more of it.

I look forward to seeing your progress.


Country: USA | Posts: 32457 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 03/23/2005 :  5:23:08 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Hey Bruce,

It is a handy technique, and I've used it as well even to the point of making paper mockups of the finished assembly. I hope to get a serious jump on construction over the weekend; I work 4/10's so I have a full three days, DOH (Depending On Honeydews).

In the meantime, Jon did such a great job with his tree tutorial over on the Mid-Size forum, I thought I'd post one in conjunction with the L&WS constructions series. I put this together for someone in one of the Yahoo groups. He's a relative newbie so I had to make this pretty basic. Those who have been in modeling for awhile are already familiar with my approach, but we may also have some relative newcomers who might benefit from the tutorial. Uhh, it's kinda long, so if you're already familiar, apologies.

Step 01: Materials

Here are the basic materials used in making deciduous trees. Start with a your favorite tree trunk from Petit Pines Northern, Scenic Express and others, along with some Woodland Scenics (WS) foliage, available in several shades. Tools include scissors (not shown), tweezers, hobby knife, razor saw, drill, WS Track pins, and CAA glue. The feather duster is used to create the Spanish Moss typically found in the South. The hair spray is used to set the foliage on the tree structure.

Step 02: Determine Location

When I make trees, I usually fit them to a specific location. That way, I can trim the tree structure as needed for best effect. In this case, the tree is a background tree and will be used to disguise the seam in the photo backdrop.

Step 03: Scrape Fusty Stuff

Natural tree structures often have natural growths on them that donít look real good. So I just use a hobby knife to scrape off this stuff. I suppose, that if one is modeling certain areas of the country, one could leave this stuff to represent tree mold or touch it up with green to represent moss.

Step 04: Trim Unwanted Branches

Because the tree structures are natural, they sometimes donít look ďnaturalĒ on a layout. So I trim unwanted branches before adding foliage. For a background tree, Iíll leave the branches a little thicker; for foreground trees, Iíll thin the branches out a little more for a more open, airy effect. I use a pair of rail nippers for trimming.

Step 05: After Trim

Once the branches are trimmed, the structure looks a lot better. Note that I save all trimmed branches and pieces. These can sometimes be made into smaller trees, bushes, our even chopped up to represent fallen branches and debris.

Step 06: Trim Trunk Bottom

Unlike plastic tree structures, the natural structures are almost always uneven at the bottom, making it difficult to ďplantĒ in the scenery. I use the razor saw to level the bottom so the tree will stand upright.

Step 07: Finished Cut

Hereís the trunk after it has been trimmed.

Step 08: Drill Trunk

For a whole variety of reasons, I always drill the bottom of the trunk and insert a pin. This makes it: a. easier to work with during construction, b. easier to plant on the layout (if youíre using foam as the sub-roadbed), c. removable for layout cleaning & maintenance, and d. movable for photography purposes. Every large tree on my layout is movable. Here, Iím drilling the trunk, using the hobby drill or pin vise. The drill size depends on the size pin.

Step 09: Trim Pin

I use WS track nails as the pins, only because I have them on hand. One could also use wire nails or finishing nails or anything that is thin and sharp on one end. (Straight pins are a little too thin.)

Step 10: Glue Pin

I simply glue the pin in the hole using ďsuper glue.Ē One could also use Elmerís Carpenterís Wood Glue, Walthers Goo, or other glues.

Step 11: Foam Base

Once the glue has dried, I stick the tree structure into a piece of scrap foam. This makes it easier to work with during the remaining construction process.

Step 12 Foliage

I use Woodland Scenics brand of foam foliage; other brands work as well. The foliage is basically a fine mesh material to which fine ground foam has been added. This picture shows how the foam comes out of the bag. A bag sells for about US$3.79 and contains enough material for one large and one medium tree.

Step 13: Spread Out Foliage

In the bag, the foliage piece is folded over several times, so you need to unfold it before beginning the tree.

Step 14: Foliage Squares

Where most modelers go wrong is that they try to use one big glob of foliage material for the entire tree, and it looks like one big glob of foliage. The recommended practice is to cut the foliage into individual squares, say 1/12Ē to 2Ē square.

Step 15: Stretch Foliage

One of the keys to achieving realism is to stretch the foliage squares into fine leafy pieces to create the illusion of individual leaves. Just pull and stretch, making sure to avoid leaving square edges. Donít worry if some of the foam falls off, it can be recycled. Stretch the foliage very fine for a foreground tree, less so for a background tree. (Note to Gang: I still have a lot of WS regular foliage, so Iím using it up on my background trees. For foreground trees, Iíll try the new WS fine foliage, which Iíve heard good things about.)

Step 16 Add Foliage

Once the foliage is stretched, simply add it to a group of branches on the tree structure. Many modelers glue the foliage on the branches: I just stick it on as the individual branches hold it just fine. Repeat the "stretch and add" process until all branches have been covered.

Step 17: Finished Foliage

Hereís the tree after all the foliage has been added. Note that you can detect the individual clumps of foliage and see through the branches. This is what gives the tree a realistic look.

Step 18: Spray Foliage

Once the foliage has been added, I give the tree a good spray with cheap aerosol hair spray. This helps to hold the foliage in place. The foliage is pretty much one color, so I like to add a little fine yellow green foam on the tops of the branches to represent sunlight and the spray holds the foam in place.

Step 19: Trim Tree

Once the spray is dry, take a look at the foliage to see if there are any sections that donít look right, and trim them. Also, youíll find that there will be thread-like pieces of the foliage mesh hanging from the branches; these need to be trimmed too.

Step 20: ďPlantĒ Tree

When everything looks right, just plant the tree in its assigned location. This photo shows the large tree (about 6Ē) I just finished and a smaller tree I used with the rest of the foliage in the package. Later, when I get around to detailing this area, Iíll use various sizes of ground foam and other scenic materials to hide the joint between the backdrop and the layout and where the trees join the layout. It took about 45 minutes to do both trees, not including photography time.

Well, that's about it. One thing I should mention. As you can see from the previous progress shots, the L&WS is as flat as a collapsed opera hat. So trees are really the only vertical elements I have to serve as view blocks. This is another reason why I leave the foliage on the background trees denser than on foreground trees, where I make them really, really leafy.

Oh, and I really do use the feather duster to create Spanish moss; I just didn't do it for this exercise. But I did take a pic:

I pull off the strands from near the handle. These have changed color over time to a light grey and have become very feathery. I glue these to the branches in clusters of different lengths, maybe 2-3 clusters per tree. They're a bear to do, but I don't need to do too many trees to set the feeling of the Deep South.

My, I've certainly been long-winded on this one, so I think I'll make like a tree and leaf.


Country: USA | Posts: 2445 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 03/23/2005 :  6:24:18 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks Steve. Great job.

Country: USA | Posts: 23646 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 03/23/2005 :  6:34:17 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Excellent job with the tutorial Steve.
Between what you and Jon have posted today there is some outstanding methods for doing trees that really look like trees.

John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13320 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 03/23/2005 :  6:49:15 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Wot? Trees that look real? I'm stunned, shocked and not just a little amazed! What a novel concept!

Seriously, I think it's great that we have different methods for different species of trees for different situations. That's what keeps the hobby from gettin' dull and keeps us plugging away on our different layouts.


Edited by - leeflan on 03/23/2005 6:50:15 PM

Country: USA | Posts: 2445 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 03/23/2005 :  7:59:51 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
You make it seem easy. Great step-by-step.


Country: USA | Posts: 32457 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 03/24/2005 :  08:02:34 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Steve, I have a few of these armetures in my workshop and am wondering what are the dimensions height to width ratio?

Country: USA | Posts: 4503 Go to Top of Page

Engine Wiper

Posted - 03/24/2005 :  09:38:30 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great tutorial on trees! Thanks for taking the time. The end products look great.

David Ray
Cumming, Georgia, USA

Country: USA | Posts: 287 Go to Top of Page

Eddie Landreth

Posted - 03/25/2005 :  4:50:59 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Love that tree, Steve. It sure looks fantastic. Thanks for posting the tutorial, I learned a lot from it.

Country: USA | Posts: 2714 Go to Top of Page


Posted - 03/26/2005 :  12:52:04 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thanks, Eddie. And like I said in your river thread, lookin' good!

OK gang, my last post for the morning. I gotta go do some modeling before the missus gets home and finds something else for me to do.

See ya,

Country: USA | Posts: 2445 Go to Top of Page

Tyson Rayles

Premium Member

Posted - 03/28/2005 :  12:31:48 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Great tree Steve and it looks like the building's going to come out just fine!

Country: USA | Posts: 13171 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 03/28/2005 :  1:40:57 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Boy do I love a good kitbash! It looks like you have the hard side almost done. Keep those updates coming!


Country: USA | Posts: 32457 Go to Top of Page

Section Hand

Posted - 03/30/2005 :  09:45:19 AM  Show Profile  Visit 6100's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Great Trees Steve, I picked up a bunch of that stuff in a place called Kamloops it grows naturally all over the place there it is sagebrush and it works for all scales. I am going to use some on my chalk mine layout. You did a great job on the tutorial.

regards Michael

If you can dream it you can make it

Edited by - 6100 on 03/30/2005 09:47:15 AM

Country: Canada | Posts: 93 Go to Top of Page


Premium Member

Posted - 03/30/2005 :  10:00:55 AM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by leeflan

Hey All,

BTW, should I be doin' nail holes on the clapboard? That would give it a nice touch.


As someone who likes nail holes a lot, I would think they would add to the station.

John Bagley
Modeling the Alaska Railroad in HO in Wildwood Georgia.

Country: USA | Posts: 13320 Go to Top of Page
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