How to Make Trees: 20 Steps

  • By: Richard
  • Date: September 30, 2021
  • Time to read: 7 min.

When it comes to wargaming terrain, there are two things you need. Trees and bases. But how do you make trees? A good place to start learning the art of making dioramas is by making trees. Diorama trees are relatively easy to make, and making them will help you learn the basics of diorama making. What’s more, making diorama trees will give you a creative boost, preparing you for more diorama-related efforts in the future. To help you take that first step, this lesson will show you how to create diorama trees professionally.

How to Make Trees: Step by Step

While the list only shows four steps, actually making diorama trees is a much simpler process. All you need are few basic materials that can be easily found in any arts and crafts store near you. The tools required for creating your own batch of custom made trees include:

Step 1: Cut the Wire Into Small Pieces

Step 1: Cut the Wire Into Small Pieces

Start by cutting a piece of wire to the size you want your trees to be. If you plan on making many trees, it’s best if you cut one length first and use it as a template for future jobs. Once cut, bend each tree at different angles so that they look more realistic than just straight up and down sticks.

Once bent into irregular shapes, twist them together until all pieces are tightly twisted around each other creating an interesting looking branch formation.

Step 2: Bundle the Wires Together

Step 2: Bundle the Wires Together

At this stage, it’s time to bundle the wires together. You can choose either hot glue or PVA/white school glue (Elmer’s Glue) for doing so. Simply use your fingers to apply some of the hot glue on one end of a wire and attach another wire right next to it until you have all the pieces glued together in one single bunch.

Step 3: Split, Twist and Repeat

The next step is to split the tree into branches. To do so, simply attach another wire below where you glued them together in the previous step and repeat the whole twisting process until each branch has that interesting looking twisty look.

Step 4: Make Loops to Create New Branches

Step 4: Make Loops to Create New Branches

To make your tree even more interesting, you can create loops at the end of each branch. It’s best to attach them right next to the trunk because this will give it a real wood look (and also keep all wires tightly twisted together).

Step 5: Twist Again to Create the Roots

Step 5: Twist Again to Create the Roots

The next step is to create the roots of your tree. To do this, attach another wire at one end and bend it down towards the bottom creating a root-like shape. You can use a pair of wire cutters to make the process easier.

Step 6: Create Smaller Branches With Static Grass

To add a touch of realism to your trees, you can create small branches with static grass or any kind of ground cover that closely resembles dirt and foliage.

Step 7: Undercoat the Tree With White Paint

Step 8: Undercoat the Tree With White Paint

For the next step, you’ll need some white paint. Use it to undercoat each tree and allow the paint to dry out completely before adding top coat (which will be green). You can use an airbrush or spray bottle for doing this if you have one available. Otherwise, just brush on a thin layer of white paint over the entire tree until all wires are covered in white color.

Step 8: Paint and Highlight the Tree

Step 9: Paint and Highlight the Tree

Once dried out, apply a thin coat of green paint on top and allow it to dry. Once done, you can highlight the tree using a darker green color (or whatever colors you want).

Step 9: Apply Coarse Turf to Create Leaves
Step 10: Apply Coarse Turf to Create Leaves

To create leaves on your trees, all you need to do is apply some coarse turf around the trunk and branches. To get a good look, attach it tightly using zip ties or PVA glue (white Elmer’s Glue).

Step 10: Add Fruits or Flowers

If you want to add fruits or flowers to your trees, all you need is some green flock. Use it for creating small clumps on branches with leaves and attach them using hot glue.

Step 11: Install the Tree to Your Diorama

Once finished, you can install your tree to the diorama. You can either use some green flocking for creating grass around it or attach some rocks and stones using PVA/white glue.

Step 12: Blend In the Roots of the Tree

Step 13 Blend In the Roots of the Tree

If you want your trees to look even more realistic, try blending in the roots. To do this, simply use some black paint (or whatever color matches your diorama) and carefully brush it on top of the white roots coating them completely with a thin layer of black color. You can also add some static grass at the end for creating leaves if there are any visible wires sticking out from under the ground.

Step 13: Let the Tree Dry Out Completely

For the next step, you’ll need to let your tree dry out completely. This way it will stay in place and not move around while painting. To speed up this process, simply use a hairdryer for drying them out quickly (or just leave them overnight).

Step 14: Paint the Plaster Tree

Once dried, you can start painting the plaster tree for adding more details and realism. To do this, just use a brush or sponge to add some lighter and darker shades of green on top of it creating different layers while gradually fading out towards the tips of branches (and also create smaller twigs using wire). This will take time so be patient! Once finished with base paint coat, your next step is applying dry brushing technique on top in order to bring out all those nice little details like bark texture and leaves color variations.

Step 15: Cover the Roots with Flocking

Step 16: Cover the Roots with Flocking

Finally, cover the roots with some dry flocking to complete your diorama. You can also add more grass around it (or even dried leaves) using PVA/white glue for creating that overgrown look and feel! And there you have it – finished trees ready for installation on any wargaming table or terrain project.

Step 16: Add Some PVA Glue to the Tree Trunk

If you want your trees to look even more realistic, add some white glue (PVA or Elmer’s) and carefully brush it on top of the trunk coating them completely with a thin layer. This way they will stay in place much easier when installing them onto terrain pieces for example!

Step 17: Let Dry Completely Before Applying Water Effects

Finally, allow everything to dry out overnight before applying any water effects such as watered-down paint or Vallejo Water effects.

Step 18: Coat the Tree with Flocking

Step 6: Coat the Tree with Flocking

Once your tree is finished, all that’s left to do now is fluff it up! To start with, you’ll need some green flocking. Coat the branches and roots of your trees generously covering every single wire inside them. Once done, shake off any excess flocking and leave the diorama set overnight for drying out completely.

Step 19: Attach the Tree Trunk onto Your Diorama Base

Step 19: Attach the Tree Trunk onto Your Diorama Base

Once dried, attach the trees using hot glue or PVA/white glue on top of your diorama base. You can also add more static grass or leaves for creating that leafy impression when looking at them from above!

Step 20: Wargaming Trees for Tabletop Gaming

How to Make Trees: 20 Steps

So there you have it – a simple way how to make trees that will look good on any wargaming table. And the most important thing is they are easy!

Top Tips on Making Model Trees From Scratch

Here are a few more tree-related tips for improving your tree-making and -arranging abilities:

  • Look at real trees – To make a tree, you should start by making a basic shape. You can use this as your starting point when you are modeling trees. If you want to make an abstract tree, it is best to study actual trees first.
  • Decide what season your trees are in – If you’re just doing one tree, though, this won’t be as relevant. However, if you’re creating an entire forest of trees, make sure they all represent the same season.
  • Most woodland thins towards the edges – If you make a full forest, make smaller trees and shrubs. They will be at the edge of your forest.
  • Don’t forget ground cover – Trees don’t just grow from the ground. They grow on twigs, leaves, and grass. To make it look like this is happening, put terrain flocks around the base of the tree to make it more realistic.

FAQs

How do you make miniature dead trees?

A dead tree is something that, for me at least, seems like it would be pretty straightforward to make. But with how simple people want everything these days with their Pinterest projects, I wasn’t surprised when someone asked about miniature dead trees.

To make a miniature dead tree, you will need several things:

  • Clay or any modeling material of your choice (i.e., hot glue sticks) with which to construct the base.
  • Twigs for stability and building out hills.
  • Plastic eggs create the leaves for your tiny evergreens.
  • Finishing touches such as mushrooms or mosses.

You must vary all textures used in size, color, and weight to not look uninformed on the finished project!

Conclusion

How to Make Trees is complete! You’ve now learned how to make a tree step by step. Follow the steps above, and you’ll be on your way to making some beautiful trees for your diorama or model railroad project. This guide has covered it all from using wire, sticks, paint, glue, and more. Now that you know what’s involved in creating these beauties, don’t hesitate any longer – get creative with our easy-to-follow instructions today! Happy crafting!

Richard

Hi! I'm Richard Baker, a miniature painter who has been painting for about ten years. My website is packed with great advice that I've learned from both books and personal experience on building and painting miniatures.

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