Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ooh ma-ma mow-mow, I am the real ...... thing!

There are some things that I find I am able to replicate in model form with reasonable success, those that with a slightly squinted eye, pose a passable representation of the real thing. Trees however, are not one of them.

I have tried various methods over the years, some methods tried and proven by others, some of my own ideas, but in the end they always look like something created by someone with very little talent for making trees. I don't know if it's the texture, the colour, or the random shapes that real trees take on, but as far as modelling goes I haven't seen too may people who truly get it right.

The thing is, just like track and ballast, and dirt and grass, effective trees can really enhance the look of a scene, and sometimes just one or two really stunning trees can have an amazing effect on the overall "look".

So getting back to the topic of what to do if you can't make trees to save yourself? Have a good look around your neighbourhood and see what trees are around, and more to the point have a good look on the ground around them.

Nature seems to have this amazing ability of producing miniature versions of full sized trees. Each branch that stems from the trunk shrinks in size and yet seems to maintain most of the proportions until you get to the truly tiny bits right on the end.

I've got two trees in my back yard, that produce totally different twigs, and yet both are in their own way very passable representations of scale trees. One tree is a type of Christmas Bush and produces quite fine twigs, with the part that would form the trunk of the scale tree being around 2.5mm in width, or around 9" in scale diameter. These particular twigs have lots of fine branches coming off them and will suit smaller trees quite well.

The twig I have photographed which is off the tree down the back that flowers in summer with a bright purple foliage (sorry I have no idea what its botanical name is), has about a 6mm trunk, which in scale terms is a little bit less than two feet across, which is a good size for an average gum tree or similar. These twigs have fewer branches coming off them, although I have some with four or five main branches, and so would be better for sparser looking trees, or parts there of laying about representing fallen trees.

The colour and texture of this one in particular is very pleasing to the eye, with a washed out greyish brown colour, and some very small knots that look particularly good.

When it comes time to add foliage I'll look at the Heiki/Woodland Sceneics etc range to try to find something that is fairly dull in colour, unlike the typical European trees which tend to be far greener than ours.

Don't pay too much attention the the ground cover by the tracks, I'm in the process of tying out a few different ideas, some of which have worked, and some have been a total failure. Speaking of soil colouring I saw some nice rich red/brown dirt not far from home which I might go and grab a bucket full off and see how it goes. Once again though it would seem that the things that look most like the real things, ARE the real things!

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