I've been looking for a easy way to make good tree clumps for my 6mm games. Individual trees don't look right to me at that scale. The tutorials I found were either too much work, fragile, or downright dangerous. So I stole the good ideas from the last two and came up with this method. I plan to combine them with felt tree line templates. The felt shows where the treelines are, and the tree stands make them look nice.
You will need:
- Clump Foliage in several colors of green
- Black foam board (I used Elmers brand)
- 1"styrofoam (I got some from the floral department at Michaels)
- Craft paint. A dark brown and a light grayish tan.
- Hot glue gun and plenty of glue sticks
First, cut out a bunch of irregular rounded pieces from the 1"styrofoam. These are the tree stands. Make these roughly 2-3"across and egg-shaped, but make some longer and some odd shapes. I used a hot wire to cut them out, though a knife would work too.
Once you have a large pile of them, cut the treetops from black foam board. Trace each piece of styrofoam, leaving about a 1/4"-1/2"gap around it. I numbered the tops and bottoms so I could match them up later. After they are cut out, bevel the edges to a gentle slope.
Hot-glue the stands to the tops with hot glue. Get them roughly centered, they don't have to be exact.
Paint the stand a dark grey-brown color. I used Americana Bittersweet Chocolate craft paint. I mixed it 50/50 with white glue and added some water. Probably not necessary, but it adds a bit of strength to the beaded styrofoam. There's no need to paint the treetops, leave them black. Leave these to dry for a while.
Paint in the tree trunks with a lighter grey-brown. I used Craft Smart Golden Brown. Keep them thin. Paint most of them from the tops down, but do a few shorter ones too. Keep them mostly vertical, but let a few bend, split, or fall over.
Tear off a small piece of clump foliage, no bigger than the first joint of your thumb. Put a dab of hot glue in the center of the top of a tree clump and stick the foliage down. Tear a small piece of another color, and glue it against the first. Keep going piece by piece, switching colors, until the top is completely covered with foliage.
And after a few hours work, I ended up with several dozen clumps of woods. In hindsight, I don't think the black foam board is necessary. You could paint the top of the styrofoam dark brown and glue the foliage clumps directly to it, This would save several steps, but lose some of the overhang effect. It's a question of taste and how much of a hurry you're in.