Friday, November 7, 2014

If a tree falls in the forest...

For something different, this is the first of an intended series of posts on making terrain for 3mm gaming. The topic this time? Trees and Forests.

For my trees and forests, I use Woodland Scenics brand 'clump-foliage', 'bushes' and 'coarse-turf' in various colours and density to achieve the effect I'm after. I use a combination of different sizes and types of model trees and woods to represent various types of terrain. 

First of all, there's individual trees. These get scattered around for scenic effect as individual trees or in groups for sparsely wooded areas. They are what my friend calls "incidental terrain" - stuff that's just there for scenic effect, but has no impact on play, and can be moved if it gets in the way.

For this type, I've made up some individual trees/bushes on thumb-tacks. You could also use small nails glued to washers or tiddlywinks.

First, spray the thumb-tacks brown

 Then, flock the underside of the thumb-tacks
with the same colour as your gaming table (this is the tree's base)
Then, tear off some clump-foliage and stick it on with PVA glue.
Equally useful for "incidental terrain" trees, and  especially bushes, is to use loose clump-foliage. As long as you're not playing somewhere where there is a strong wind, this is fine (like outdoors, or a room with a strong fan or air-conditioning vent blowing on the table). Having said this, I prefer to use the trees on thumb-tacks if possible, since I think having the little bit of elevation that the 'trunk' provides makes them look more realistic as trees.

More densely forested areas are even easier to make. Select a base of some sort - I use wood or plastic bases in various sizes and shapes. To this, glue down more dense clump-foliage to represent the tree canopy. An example is below:

50mm diameter MDF base, spray-painted dark green
Cover the base with PVA glue,
stick down different shapes and sizes of clump-foliage

For forests that will be placed over hills, I use flexible latex pieces that conform to the contours better than rigid plastic or wood templates. Again, these have flock or clump-foliage glued to them.

The Latex sections I use were purchased from Battlefield Accessories here in Australia. They are specifically designed for  use with 3mm miniatures, since I originally commissioned them from Mike and described to him what I was after. They are cast in dark green latex, in various shapes and sizes, and with the shapes of a tree canopy already moulded on them.

The latex tree-canopy as it arrives.
I often use these 'as-is', but the only problem is they're a little shiny
Cover them in PVA glue and flock in dark green.
The flock gives them a less smooth and shiny look - nicer on the table-top.

Adding clump-foliage produces extra height and density for forests.
Even with the clump-foliage and PVA glue on them, the latex is still flexible and conforms to terrain.

Many rules distinguish between 'heavy' and 'light' woods. To distinguish on the table-top, I do slightly different sections for use as light woods. For these, the base is flocked in the same colour as the ground cover, then more sparse clumps of smaller clump-foliage are stuck on it.

A light woods section - flocked in the normal ground colour and with smaller clumps of foliage.
Alternately, for light woods, just use groups of the individual trees  or loose clump-foliage, as described earlier.
For all woods, individual trees or loose clump-foliage can be placed around the edges, to represent the edge of the wooded area. Also to fill in the gaps between bases, where continuous woods sections are required.

If you wanted to go super involved with the woods sections, you could make removable 'sabots' of trees in the interior of the wooded areas. These could be removed when troops occupy that section of the woods. I don't do this - I just put my troops on top of the woods, or underneath.

Some woods on the table-top:

Woods on the table-top: Heavy Woods on the right, and Light Woods to the left.



  1. Are those 'forests' available to all? My google-foo is weak today and I cannot find the site let alone the forest :-(

  2. Hmm, it probably wasn't helped by me getting the name of the company wrong. It should have been "Battlefield Accessories" (not ... Scenics). I've changed it now.

    In answer to your question though, yes, they certainly were available to all. Problem is, they changed owners early in the year and the website seems to be down:

    I'm trying to track down the new contact details for the owner. When I have, I'll let everyone know.

  3. An update on the latex trees, for those of you who asked. The new owner of the Battlefield Accessories products has provided the following email address for enquiries:

    I've been promised a PDF catalogue too, which I'll post when I get it.