Crafting trees using wire, steel wool, and flock

Brett Simpson sent me a photo of a tree he’d made. I thought it was fantastic and asked Brett for some step by step instructions. So he sent me his approach to crafting trees using wire, steel wool, and flock.


Here is a photo of the tree armature

I’m about to start work, but just briefly here is a photo of the tree armature. It’s just twisted wire with no covering, but I think that with the canopy at this scale it will look OK. What do you think?

First armature

First armature

Below is a photo of the finished tree…

First completed tree

I got the idea from The Terrain Tutor on YouTube — he has a lot of good videos on this and other subjects.

Step 1: Make a wire armature

Take some thin wire (mine is less than 1mm in diameter — it’s hard to get an exact measurement, and I no longer have the packaging). Make a bundle to whatever length is desired (8cm in this case — the bundle winds back and forth 11 times, but thicker trees need more).

Twist the wire with pliers where you want the trunk to go, being certain to leave untwisted portions for the roots and branches. The branch and root sections can then be separated into subsections like so:

Initial armature

Initial armature

Step 2: Make the roots and branches

Next, twist the roots and branches. With the latter it can be useful to further separate the wire sections into smaller branches as seen below. Once you are happy with the rough shape of the armature, snip off the loops that with be at the ends of the roots and branches. The tree will look something like this:

Armature with trimmed roots and branches

Armature with trimmed roots and branches

Step 3: Base the armature

Glue the armature to a base. I cut a 25mm coin sized base from card stock, mixed Araldite directly on top, and sat the tree roots in it. Wait for it to dry…

Armature on base

Armature on base

Step 4: Flock the base

Apply sand to the base using PVA (you may wish to leave the top of the roots exposed) and allow it to dry…

Paint, dry-brush, and flock the model (some may prefer to leave this until after the following two steps).

Armature with flocked base

Armature with flocked base

Step 5: Add a steel wool canopy

Add a canopy using steel wool. This should be quite wispy. If you can see through it, that is good. You don’t need to glue it down, but do be certain to draw the steel wool under the outside edges of the branches.

Canopy using steel wool

Canopy using steel wool

Step 6: Undercoat the Canopy

If you have already painted and flocked the model, wrap the base and trunk in cling wrap. Then apply matte black spray paint to the top and underside of the canopy. Allow it to dry…

Undercoat the canopy

Undercoat the canopy

Step 7: Flock the canopy

Next, apply a spray adhesive to the canopy and sprinkle flock on top. Remove the cling wrap from the trunk and your almost done — the final step is to trim any stray steel wool hairs using scissors (you may also wish to finish the tree with matte varnish).

Flock the canopy

Flock the canopy

Step 8: Ready to game

The tree is now ready for the table.

Ready to play

Ready to play

NOTE:
As you can see, I went with small trees. This was because I am using a 2′ x 2′ table and my regular trees seemed too large. The same method can be used to make larger trees by starting with longer loops. You might want to consider using thicker wire and/or applying texture to the armature with modelling putty or the like.

Happy gaming!

Brett.

1 comment to Crafting trees using wire, steel wool, and flock

  • Steven Thomas

    Personally I would follow Brett’s alternative suggestion and move Step 4 (Flock the base) to after Step 6 (Undercoat the Canopy).

Leave a Reply