Been chugging on with crafting these past few weeks and I think I’m getting the hang of pumping out stuff faster and with more end-quality than usual. See how long that keeps up, but for now I’m pretty psyched because this. stuff. looks. Awesome.
Look at it, Anakin!
What you’re looking at took probably a little over 4 hours of actual crafting time (not including the afternoon’s worth of chopping down trees in my father-in-law’s orchard) to bring to a 95% finished state, and was made using a main resource that should be readily available to anyone with legal access to tree branches. I’ve yet to spray-seal these and I’ll maybe add a couple more details to the bases, but they’re in a playable, photogenic enough state, so I figured I’d do this short write-up over Easter weekend.
Worth mentioning that I had pre-cut and sanded the edges of the bases a while ago, but that would only take maybe 20-30 minutes to get done, from drawing them onto plasticard to holding the finished products, depending on how many you did.
Also, know that these are supposed to be dead trees, one of my favourite kinds to make since they don’t require a canopy, which means faster assembly and no extra wires/sculpting. This particular batch is going to be used to complement the rest of my swamp terrain, which I’ll actually have to bring up to snuff and will be the subject of another entry, I reckon.
I started out breaking off various bits of the branches I’d collected that looked somewhat like trees and then using a gardening cutter to do a clean cut for the end that would sit on the base.
In order to preserve the colour in the lichen growing on the bark, I used a pipette to apply glycerin all over it. I wasn’t too liberal with it as it absorbs well and a handful of beads are enough to douse the whole thing and make sure the lichen stays vibrant for years on end - not kidding, the lichen has a tendency to retain color in and of itself, using glycerin on it will effectively make it outlast humanity in that regard. Don’t worry if it doesn’t just instantly absorb into the thing and beads on the surface, it takes a while to settle in.
I then based the trees, drilling holes in the bases and running either nails or screws through them since these were fairly chonky bits of wood and I didn’t want to deal with worries of them becoming unglued or having to prop them up for hours until they properly took. I also drilled holes into the bottoms of the “trees” for the screws to… screw into, and filled them with PVA before assembling each unit. I also applied some PVA to the underside of the trees, for that extra hold.
I opted for an off-center basing style, first of all because it looks better than just plopping one down in the middle, and second because I had to account for the weight of the “trees” and the way it would have them topple over themselves if I didn’t account for it. Something I learned the hard way with a second, smaller batch, that I didn’t think would have this issue…
For starters, I put four big’uns together and set about basing them soon thereafter.
To do this, I went fast and dirty as the real work in making the bases look good would be done by the final layers of flock. I put down various patches of medium and fine grit sand on the bases, randomly brushing on PVA glue and then throwing the stuff on. I did it in patches because the plasticard bases I was using felt like they would bend rather easily, so I didn’t want to just lather them in PVA, end-to-end.
After this was dry, I quickly threw on some watered down browns and greens. You’ll notice that I didn’t bother to cover every last patch of the base, either with the sand or the paint.
As this was drying, I quickly whipped up a batch of flock mix, per Adam’s golden advice (which you can find here), although I ended up not wanting to put many of the larger rocks down on the bases themselves.
Finally, I applied the flock mix in patches and let it sit before hitting it with some highly watered down PVA glue from the pipette. Again, a few drops here are enough since the concoction spreads and absorbs into its surroundings.
As a final touch, I hit the sides of the bases with some browns (and might do that again with some greens for some extra variety) to cover up the last few bits that were still showing plastic.
All in all, this was a quick, easy, entirely not messy craft whose biggest advantage was the easy sourcing of material. And the end result looks rather smashing when put together, if I do say so myself.
I’m bound to use these for Frostgrave - hence the quick walkways I also whipped up - as well as further RPG/wargaming endeavours because they’re just that damn versatile. Some of these might work as centerpieces on a wargaming table, while others I’ve based on more traditional bases so that I might use them to more easily fill out area terrain.
I highly recommend you guys try doing something like this, not only because it’s a cheap way to put some awesome looking stuff on the table, but also because the entire process is therapeutic as hell. Bonus points if you listen to a Lord of the Rings audiobook while you’re at it.
Thanks for reading, and have as nice a day as you deserve!
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