Building Jungle Trees Part 1

By: Kitbasha Jay

A few weeks ago we built a bunker. Taking simple materials we built up a rather nice piece of terrain. This week we’re going to fill out the same terrain set with a large number of jungle trees.

To start off we need sticks. Lots and lots of sticks. For this I simply took my dog to the park around the corner. I let her think it was a game to find sticks and we gathered enough to fill a shopping bag. I then brought all the sticks home and let them dry out for a week or two.

Pile o sticks

I then cut arbitrary kidney bean shapes out of foarmcore. The best way to do this is to angle a very sharp Xacto blade so that as you slowly cut an oval shape you bevel the edges of the piece at the same time.

beveled edge

Then take a hot glue gun and glue on all the sticks in an upright position wherever you would like them on the foamcore base. Take the skinny sticks and glue pieces of them on angles leaning against the tree near the bottom. These will simulate roots. Don’t be afraid to use lots of hot glue. It will encure that these pieces stay in place once we build on top of them with spackle and glue.

Speaking of spackle, that’s the next step. Take some ordinary polyfila or dap and cover the entire base of the terrain feature. Use your finger near the tree trunks to smooth the transition between flat ground and tree trunk. Make sure while you do this to not completely burry the roots you’ve already glued on. You want them to be showing above the sand we’ll be putting on in a bit.

Next we need to add branches to the trees. Again you can use the small and skinny sticks to create branches. You can more or less put them wherever you would like provided most of them are growing out and up from the trunks of the trees.

Pro Tip: Make sure that when you connect the branches. You do this by drilling a hole down the center of the branch and in the side of the trunk with a pin drill. Then cut a piece of paper clip to act as a spine for the branch. Then use superglue to glue the pin inside the branch and into the trunk.

pinning tools

I apologize for not having pictures of the process of pinning all the branches but there was a lot of branches. If you want to see it in action check out the video tutorial next week on Encounter Wargaming. Until then, let’s keep going on these pieces.

Before we finish these with sand and a base coat of paint we have to make sure that the trees are sealed in. We’re using natural ingredients here and wood especially soaks up paint in undesirable ways. Also the only adhesive holding our pinned branches onto the trunk is superglue. Not good enough.

We want to take some PVA glue, not watered down, just straight out of the bottle, and paint the trees with a couple of thin coats. White glue is pretty much the same thing as wood glue. With a good coating of PVA, the trunks will harden and become more resilient to damage as well as being easier to paint and wash without bleeding.

Once this is done and dried we proceed by covering the spackled areas with PVA glue and sprinkle on some playground sand. This is a pretty self explanatory stage in the game. Not to sound condescending, but if you do this inside make sure you do this step with a sheet of paper, cloth or foil beneath your feet to catch any of the sand that falls as you sprinkle. This can be collected after and reused.

Once our sand is dry, we shake off the terrain pieces. This just knocks off any sand that is still loose after the PVA has dried. We don’t want this on there for the paint stage. If the sand is loose when you paint over it, it will definitely chip off in the future. Make sure all the sand that the PVA didn’t grab is shook loose.

Then we’ll take some brown paint and cover the entire piece. This can be done by painting on a layer of house paint with a brush. If you choose to use this method make sure that you purchase a water based acrylic. You can use craft paints too but I find you use it up too quickly when doing the entire piece. It’s much more cost efficient to buy a can of brown house paint.

trees after rust spray

I prefer to use spray paint. Rust paint to be more specific. I feel it seals in the sand quite nicely as well as covering pretty much any material without chipping. Make sure that when you purchase spray paint you get a matte finish. If you use a gloss the entire piece will be shiny and it will cause your acrylics to chip off when you paint on top of it.

Pro Tip: If you use spray paint make sure there is no exposed foamcore anywhere. If you have covered your piece fully in spackle and sand you should not have a problem. If any of the foam center of the foamboard is showing at all the accelerant in spray paint will cause it to melt.

Now that we’ve got a good base coat on them we’re gonna call it quits for today. Tomorrow we’ll start painting them. If you’d like to read the previous articles on building the jungle bunker click the links below.

Terrain Tuesdays – Building a Bunker

To get a notification when the tutorial on these trees will be released on YouTube please click here and hit subscribe. Make sure you hit that little bell so you get the notification when the full tutorial comes out on Tuesday the 19th.

Until our next Encounter!

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