Without scenery on the table, all we’re doing is moving plastic or metal soldiers around on a billiards table!
I think that a game played on well made scenery helps to tell a story and adds depth to whatever game it is that you’re playing. As you can see, I’m a bit of an advocate for scenery. Not only does it add an element of story, but it provides another tactical element to the game.
Whilst the following is not strictly a scenery article, it can easily be applied to scenery pieces.
I am building a Warhammer Fantasy Wood Elf army, and am running a little short on models (and sadly cash to buy them). The emerging trend in Warhammer is to use “unit fillers” to make up for potentially expensive core units and given that Wood Elves live in the forest, it seems only logical that a unit filler should enforce this theme.
The army I am building is an autumn themed army, so lots of reds and browns as opposed to the traditional green that epitomizes a Wood Elf army.
Therefore, trees and plants used need to reinforce that idea. Following discussions with Maria at http://realmoflegends.com.au, a method for creating trees was revealed. The method is so quick and simple, that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it myself.
All that is required is something to set the shape of the trunk, some toilet paper/tissue/paper napkin, some PVA (White Glue) and some water.
First is to set the shape of the trunk. Depending on the required size will determine what you use. For a large tree, a water bottle or a soft drink can would be appropriate, for a smaller tree a disposable pen casing or some plastic tubing.
As the tree I am making is a unit filler, it has to fit on a 40mm base (two miniatures wide by two deep) so I used a section of 20mm plastic tubing as the basis for the tree. By raiding a discount store’s toy section I was able to find some cheap plastic boulders to build the tree on too.
For a larger tree base, you may also think about gluing it down to a base and further than that, an insert that can be removed from the base to allow units to move through. 2mm MDF would be a great way to build a robust and modular forest section.
I used super glue to stick the boulder to the base and then the plastic tubing to the boulder. I wasn’t worried too much about cutting the tubing too straight as it adds a bit more realism than a trunk that stands straight up and down.
Now to the branches. I plugged the end with BluTack and inserted either florist’s wire twisted to add strength or paper clips cut and bent into shape for branches. I learnt that BluTack was not the best choice most because it does not lose it pliability, so the branches had a tendency to move around. Once you start building the tree, this becomes academic and the toilet paper will hold and strengthen the branches.
Once the branches are posed in a “natural” fashion, the fun begins.
Start ripping lengths of toilet paper and twisting them up, some tighter and some looser, it doesn’t have to be uniformly shaped. Now drench the “trunk” of the tree in PVA glue and put the twists against the trunk. The PVA will hold them in place. Once the twists are in place, coat the outside of the “tree” in watered down PVA glue. By watering the glue down, you help it to soak into the toilet paper more and when it dries, the “bark” of the tree will be stronger. Because PVA can take a while to dry, stick the tree under a ducted heating vent or give it a blast with a hair dryer to speed the drying process up.
You can continue layering toilet paper around the trunk and the branches in multiple layers. As there is no uniformity to trees, the more random it looks the better, I feel. The one that is pictured has three layers of toilet paper to form the tree. A couple of the branches only have one to make them thinner. It’s entirely up to you when you make it.
It’s not the most realistic tree out there, but of a unit filler and also VERY cheap, I think it fits the bill pretty well.
Next up; foliage.