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HOW TO Make Forests and Woods for the smaller scales

This Article is about how to make small scale forests and woods suitable for 6mm, 10mm, and 15mm gaming. Introduction
Forests and woods are a part of many battlefield landscapes. The challenge with representing them on the table top is to do it in a way that allows for easy troop movement, limits line of sight effectively and clearly indicates when a unit is in the woods or on the edge. Here is a method we have been using for years. I think I first saw it at a convention in Cincinnati during the early 1980s. The forests can be nearly any size really. A kidney shaped piece about 12 by 8 inches would be a good start. For this article, we made three pieces. A forest 16 x 7 inches. A woods 8 x 5 inches, and a stand of trees 3 x 5. These models were intended for 6mm gaming but would work equally well with 10mm figures and vehicles. General Steps 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Make the bases for the forest and the canopy Lather the forest base with latex caulk Attach roofing nails in a ring around the forest base Apply sand Hot melt glue the foliage material to the canopy base Paint the forest floor and the tree trunks Add details to the forest floor and seal everything Materials Acrylic or Hardboard for the base Foam core for the canopy top (black) Roofing nails Brown latex caulk Woodland Scenics scenic cement Woodland Scenics scenic glue Woodland Scenics clump foliage Woodland Scenics foliage clusters Various flocks, some coarse sand and very small twigs Black primer, brown and gray paints

Making the Bases

You are going to need two kinds of bases for this project: a base for the forest itself and a base for the tree canopy. We made our base out of thin acrylic sheet bought at the local hardware store. We like this for bases, especially big ones, because it is virtually th warp free. You do need power tools to cut and sand it properly. If you dont have power tools, you could make the bases out of 1/8 hardboard cutting out the shape with a keyhole handsaw and filing and sanding the edges. Another option is sheet styrene (Evergreen makes sheets big enough for most applications) Make sure you use styrene at least .080 thick or more. The canopy base should be made out of something lightweight. We chose black foam core, available at most craft stores. The black color comes in handy when looking at the underbelly of the canopy and provides a nice no paint finish to it. Cut your base to the size you would like your final forest to be. Remember that the forest will be set back from the edge at least an inch, and you will need to move troops around inside. Once the bottom base is cut, sand it down to a thinner contour along its edges so it blends in with your gaming surface better. Dont cut the canopy base just yet.

Nails for Trees

We are going to use nails of all things to make our tree trunks. For the scale of forest I was making, I used 1 inch nails. For 15mm forests, you will want at least 2. Using Roofing nails with big flat heads is a must. These big heads will help hold the nails in place. Gather a pile of nails and nip the sharp points off with a strong set of cutting pliers. BE CAREFUL and wear eye protection. Those little bits of nail are going to fly everywhere. You dont need to cut the nail but just blunt the tip so they dont cut or tear someones fingers. Nip a handful and set them to the side.

Latex caulk as our basic ground and planting trees

Once you have nipped your nails safely, spread latex caulk (we used Dap Dynaflex 230 Cedar Tan) all over the base, smoothing it out with a putty knife or paint stick. Dont let the caulk get any thicker than 3/16ths of an inch or so or it will take forever to dry. Once you have spread the caulk, stick the nipped nails in by placing their heads into the caulk and twirling them back and forth with your fingers until they are firm against the base plate. The nails should form a rough ring shape all the way around the edge of the base and set back by an inch or so. If your forest is wider than 6 inches, add a few nails in the center for support. Remember we want the inside as open as possible to place troops and vehicles. After you have placed all your nails, you should be able to guesstimate the size and shape of your canopy base. Cut your foam core big, and then adjust it to sit on top of the nails with just about a inch of overhang. Once its cut you can set it aside to get it out of the way. Now use a stick to work the caulk up and around the base of each nail. Dont worry if your caulk isnt super smooth we are about to fix that. Take a handful of builders sand (the nice course stuff) and spread it all over the fresh caulk. Gently press down on it with your fingers so that it sticks into the caulk. Straighten out any bent nails and then set your canopy base on top. Weight it down with something handy like a book and let it set up. Thirty minutes should do and then you can take the canopy off. We let ours set for two days before proceeding to do anything else to it.

While your caulk dries, make the Forest canopy

While your forest base is drying, now is a good time to make your forest canopy. Take your canopy top and make sure YOU START WITH THE BOTTOM. We are going to use hot glue to attach Woodland Scenics Clump Foliage and Foliage Clusters to it. I used Medium green. I recommend a low temp hot melt glue gun for this. You can buy those at the craft store for $5 or so. Dont forget to get plenty of glue sticks. I used a big old industrial hot glue gun and have the burnt fingers to prove it so be careful! Start by gluing Clump Foliage around the edge of the BOTTOM. This will hang down and look great from the side as well as give us some help gluing more to the edges. Let it set up. I used two plastic cups to hold the canopy in the air to make it easier to work on. Once the bottom is done and the glue set, flip it over. Now add another outer ring of Clump Foliage in the same way, making sure to cover the edge completely. Once this outer ring is done, start tearing off chunks of the Foliage Clusters and start filling in the top. Put the glue on the top and push the foliage into it and against the previously applied pieces. Hold them in place for a few seconds until the glue sets. Fill in the whole top to finish it.

Painting the forest floor and the tree trunks

After the caulk has had plenty of time to set and dry, shake off the excess sand and then apply Woodland Scenics Scenic Ceme nt with an eye dropper or better a pipette. We want to seal the surface and insure the sand stays in place. Give this a full day to dry. Once it has set, primer the forest floor with black spray paint. After the primer is completely dry, dry brush the forest floor with dark brown paint (we used Vallejo Flat Brown). Next dry brush it with a lighter brown (Vallejo Beige Brown). A final dry brush with a tan paint (Vallejo US Tan) should get the floor looking about right. Paint all the big chunks of sand and pebbles stuck to it with a light grey (Vallejo Dove Grey) to make them look like rocks. Lastly paint the nails Dark Grey (Trees are RARELY brown). We used Vallejo 944 Dark Grey to good effect. Set this aside now to dry thoroughly.

Add details to the forest floor and finishing up

I managed to scrounge up some very small twigs by cutting them out of a craft store miniature witches broom. You may be able to find suitable tiny twigs in your garden. I also made some logs from some bamboo skewers from the grocers. I sprayed them all with black paint and then misted them with grey primer to match my tree trunks. Once you have these made, cut them to short lengths and attach them to the forest floor using Woodland Scenic Scenic Glue. White glue will of course work, but it doesnt dry the invisible flat finish this stuff from Woodland Scenics does. Super glue will be messy and may live telltale glue marks.

You dont have to wait for these to dry. Apply little patches of flock here and there along your forest floor to give it the look of undergrowth. We apply our flock dry and just sprinkle it on here and there. We used Woodland Scenics Green Grass Fine Turf,

Weeds Fine Turf, Course Light Green Turf, and Course Burnt Grass Turf on ours. This provides lots of variation in color and texture and is far more realistic than just one color or type. Once its all been applied and you are satisfied with how it looks, mist everything with a fine spray bottle filled with ordinary water. The finer the spray the closer you can get. Be careful not to blow your loose flock off. I used an old empty super glue accelerator bottle. Any mist sprayer will do, but bigger ones will blow your flock away if you arent careful.

Once everything is thoroughly wet (but not soaked) use a pipette to apply Woodland Scenics Scenic Cement by dribbling it on gently with a pipette or eye dropper. Everything will turn a bit white, but dont worry. Once it dries it will be clear and lu sterless and everything will be held in place very well. Again, you could use thinned PVA or white glue, but I dont get the same quality of result I get using the Scenic Cement which is specifically formulated just for this purpose and premixed. Set everything aside to dry for a day or so.

To finish your canopy, consider spraying it with Design Master Basil (See call out below) spray paint and then spreading a little of the Woodland Scenics Grass Green Fine Turf on top to give it a finer, more 6mm texture. We glued a random twig or two in the canopy to represent dead trees poking through. Once everything is dry, you should be good t o go gaming! Remember, Units In the forest cant be seen from outside. Units on the base edge are at the edge of the wood and can be seen and charge or shot at, but note they can usually fight back!

If you have never tried Design Master Spray paints you really should give them a go. You can find them all the large craft stores. They are acetone based and dont melt foam like foam core or pink/blue foam and almost always dry flat. They come in a wide array of colors, but I like the Basil for lots of stuff. If you use them as an undercoat on metal or plastic models, make sure to use primer first. This acetone spray doesnt stick well to plastics.

Enjoy your new forest, Ernie

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