Monday, January 29, 2024

Battle of Scarif - adding all the bushes and trees

In previous posts I’ve covered the building of the boards, the seas, the islands and the transit systems for my battle of Scarif board. In this post I’ll talk about how I added the foliage required for the distinctive look of the planet.

So my starting point were images from the movie. I concentrated on the images we see when looking at the ground from either Rogue One itself or from the x-wings of blue squadron. I was building the battlefield at a small scale and so it was very clear that I would not be moving figures through foliage, instead I would be moving them over foliage. This meant that the trees would need to be robust enough for stands of troops to rest on top of them and numerous enough to not be significantly uneven.

As the trees would be the last pieces of foliage inserted I started with the grass. This was very straightforward as I began with the woodland scenics fine turf grass products, these are my standard go to product for grass. I mapped out some trails and other routes and places that I wanted to clear as there are sections of the battle that take place in the open and then just scattered a thin covering of multiple grass shades. This was secured in place with diluted PVA.

The next steps were adding the underbrush, bushes and foliage beneath the tree canopy. As its a tropical forest it needed to be densely covered. You can see from the aerial images that basically most of the land of Scarif is covered with foliage. I then went to my accumulated collection of tufts to create this. 

I have some crop strips, some held over from my Brécourt Manor build, these were cut lengthwise into thin strips which were then glued up against the side of the transit lines helping to hide the base and joins. I interspersed different bushes and tufts to break everything up. 

In the more open sections I randomly placed bushes and tufts, including things like bulrushes that were designed for bigger scales but look suitably sci-fi at a smaller scale. The key was to have about ten or fifteen different options and to mix them up. I didn’t need to place them tightly next to each other as the trees would provide most of the coverage, I just needed enough for it to be obvious there were bushes underneath.

The trees proved to be quite tricky, not so much in production, but in identifying a suitable way forward. I knew I needed a lot of them so I needed a solution that was scalable and easy to make. My starting point was a Facebook post I’d seen some years ago by Trev of Trev’s Workshop. He was creating palm trees for a desert game. He stuck 25mm nails into polystyrene, used texture paint on the nail make the truck and placed some PVA on the head and sprinkled static grass over them and was able to quickly and simply make several hundred trees in a couple of hours. A brilliant solution but wasn’t quite the look I needed as the trees on Scarif have much more foliage. However the use of nails as trunks seemed like the way to go as it would definitely support my figures with no problems.

Next I looked at using paper leaves but this was swiftly discarded. I used the green stuff leaves product but cut them much smaller. The end result was fairly pleasing but the prototype took me quite some time to produce. The pieces struggled to stay glued on and I could make only a few trees from each packet which came at quite a cost. I also tried buying a plastic fern and cutting pieces off it but this had the same time issues as the paper leaves.

I scoured the internet for options and came across a post on The Miniatures Page message boards from Mark, aka Mark I, suggesting using lengths of pine tree garlands most commonly used at Christmas. These are lengths of wire with strands of paper wrapped around it made to look like pine tree branches. I snipped the wire roughly every 25 or 30mm and the used scissors to shape the paper forms and teased them to make a suitably tree shaped canopy. It took me a few minutes to create each tree. However they were a uniform colour and would need painting and the appearance was OK, not bad, but not great. I left these on the back burner while I did more work on the model.

With only about a month left before my first show I still had the problem of my trees. However, necessity is the mother of invention. I returned to the method used by Trev but, instead of using static grass I used woodland scenics foliage. This stuff is their standard foam but on a nylon net. I cut very small pieces and then superglued it onto the top of a 25mm nail. This worked well. 

Then I tried mixing things up. I cut a small piece from the light green foliage and crimp it flat. I used superglue to stick on the top of the nail and pressed it flat. The superglue melted the nylon and stuck it admirably to the nail. I then cut another piece of a darker foliage, slightly bigger than the first and squashed it into a kind of pyramid shape and the glued this on top of the first. This then produced a palm tree shape I was really pleased with. At this point I should add a warning regarding the use of superglue in large amounts or repeatedly over a period of time particularly in enclosed spaces - don’t do it this way, proceed with caution, do your own research and stop if it is affecting you.

I was then able to put this into production. I made 100 trees at a time. I stuck the nails into polystyrene and painted them with texture paint. Once dry I cut ten pieces of light green foliage and glued them to the top of the nails and repeated this until all the trees had light green foliage on top. Then I cut the darker foliage, half mid green, half dark green and then glued those onto the first layer. It took about 90 minutes to make 100 trees.

I figured I would need about a thousand trees. So once I had 400 trees I took them to place on my board. I began close to the tower and started to work outwards. Once I had the first areas done I was delighted with how they looked but it became clear that a thousand trees wasn’t going to be enough and it would be 1200 or so. This underestimating became a regular feature. Once I placed 800 I realised I needed 1600. Once I placed 1200 I realised I needed 2000. In the last week I was making trees every night and I finally added the last of my 2163 trees the day before the show.

The trees really finished the board and gave me a result that looked like Scarif.

In the next post I will look at how I built the tower itself.

Until then, keep your dice rolling!

Charles the Modeller 

1 comment:

  1. Saw this fabulous display game at Vapnartak, can't believe he made all those trees by hand! Just curious about what make of miniatures the storm trooper miniatures were


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