7 July 2018

Tutorial: Forrest

Decided to save some money on trees and make them myself - at least mostly. Here's a few words on how to make some sturdy trees, that won't drop their foliage.

For some neat photos of the finished result and a comparison with 4ground trees - jump to the bottom of the article.

  • Cheap china model trees
  • Old foam mattress
  • Cheap acrylic paint
  • Blender
  • Hot glue gun
  • Spray glue
  • Matt varnish
  • Cheap spray paint
  • Basing materials
Step 1 - making foliage
I bought an old blender in a thrift store and found some old foam mattress at the recycle station. Rip the mattress into fist sized clumps, throw them into the blender with some green acrylic paint and a bit of water. Make a mess! Dry it out on a news paper.

Or you can find some super cheap foliage on AliExpress. 

Step 2 - fix the trees
The cheap model trees comes with a bit of foliage, often too little and badly glued. Spray glue the entire tree, lots of glue is good. Roll in a pile of your foliage. I also added some saw dust, spice mix (herbes de provence) and birch tree seeds. Give it a good squeeze with your fist. 

Let it all dry and then give it a good layer of spray glue again. 

Step 3 - spray paint
Spray paint the trees. I spray painted the tree trunks and bases first with a brown. Then using some different greens, I spray painted the tree tops. 

Step 4 - attach to bases
I used wire, wrapping it around the trees and making some roots. But if you're doing this, I suggest you add some masking tape as well. I didn't, but it would make it work better.

Use a hot glue gun to add the trees to a base. Use a lot, to make sure they stay in place. Add sand to the bases afterwards, again use a lot of wood glue. Keep those trees tied down.

I made one with a super glue / wood glue combo as well. It'll work, but not as easy as hot glue.

Step 5 - basing
Use whatever basing materials you want. I went with lots of different shades of static grass. Attached with wood glue mixed with brown acrylic paint.

Then I added small twigs as branches, flowers, shrub, ivy. Lastly I added drops of superglue here and there, covered the entire base in birch tree seeds. Give if a gentle push and shake off the excess 'dry leaves'. 

Step 6 - varnish
Give the trees a thick layer of matt varnish spray to finish it off. This will help even further keeping the foliage and basing materials in place. I used a lot. Heavy coat. 

Comparison with 4Ground
I was ordering some other stuff from 4Ground and decided to grab a few trees as well. 4Ground makes some great terrain, so to check out the quality of the trees and save some time - I ordered some. 

The trees are really fine and the foliage is well glued. But it's not as thick and well glued as my own. After basing the 4Ground trees like the ones I had done, I gave them a heavy coat of matt varnish as well. 

Left to right: 4Ground willow tree, upgraded China tree, 4Ground Pine, upgraded china tree.

Finished forest
22 trees in my collection now. 14 homemade trees, five 4Ground pines and three 4Ground willows. Used in a The Walking Dead scenario here.


  1. Thanks for this, some really good ideas here.

    One question, is Herpes de Provence a typo or a deliberate joke. Either way I am adopting it as my new name for them.

  2. looks great. I might try and adapt this to a Autumn theme

    1. Just finished some dead / winter trees. Might be a help on your project.