Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Can you see the trees through the Forest?

It's been several months since I last posted so I think it is obvious that there is no way I am going to provide weekly blog content.  Having 2 children under 5 years of age and a wife who works a lot, it's just not going to happen.  I've been working on stuff regularly and snapping lots of photos but for some reason having uninterrupted time to write and process photos has been rather challenging.  I've also been playing a lot of Starcraft II with my good buddy.  It can be so much easier to burn a few hours playing computer games than buckle down and do some hobby work.

Anyway, I am excited about this year.  I have cleared the calendar for a tournament in February of which I am casually working on the last few pieces for my US Engineer Co.  I am also considering a trip out of state for a tournament in early April.  The probability is rather low but I am holding high hopes.

I'm making a trip to California in February and one to Michigan in August along with as many trips to the high country as I can fit in.  I am also going to be starting a hugely inconvenient remodeling project at my home this spring which I will project manage.  I figure I better put to use my 15 years of construction management and purchasing experience and add some space to the house.  We moved just over a year ago and added 900 square feet but, ironically went from a 4 bedroom to a 3 bedroom while adding a new member to the family. I need to fix that situation.  I am also committed to going back to school full time to finish my accounting degree and CPA exam this fall.

So, needless to say, hobbying and blogging will have to give from time to time.  I am setting a goal of providing a monthly update on gaming or whatever.  I'll continue adding to my US forces for Flames of War and attempt to build some German counter armies.  I'm excited to see the Italy compilation Battlefront is going to publish and I have already modeled two Panzer III's for a Herman Goring PanzerKompanie I intend to make.  I hope to get the Fallschirmjager done as well; @#$~? you Splinter Camo!  I'm going to leave painting 100 tanks to the masochists at WWPD.

So without further blithering here is my January presentation.

I really wanted to make some woods and forests for my game table so after seeing some my friend Gwen made I immediately started on mine.  Now Gwen is a super talented painter and sort of my unknowing hobby mentor.  I steal learn all my best hobby ideas from her.  I took her idea and expanded on it a bit.  One of the cool things about this project is there is no painting involved.

One of the annoying things for me in Flames of War terrain presentation is little patches of woods that amount to no more than a copse.  Scattered about the table in unnatural patterns they look odd and for the most part just slow the game down.  Giving veteran troops essentially unlimited cover to operate in is a recipe for a long, fun sapping, engagement.  Woods and forests however, do have a place in the game and can be a welcome addition to a table if done right.  I set out to make mine modular with the ability to be more like forests if I want.

I went to Home Despot and picked up a bunch of 12"x12" vinyl tiles with adhesive backing.  It's about $1/tile and has a slate like look.  I lost my picture of the exact product but this one may be it.  Pick whatever you like, there a couple choices in earth tones.

Next take some Wesley tin Snipes and cut them into the shapes you want.  They cut with a utility knife as well but snips work fast.  Trim as required with a utility knife.

Tin snips designed to cut curves work great

 I cut mine into modular shapes so I can make large woods or line them up on a table edge.

FoW is a box of chocolates, you never know what kind of terrain you'll encounter
Next remove the paper backing.

Yes, I am making some 12" x 12" forests!  Can you say Ardennes?
Apply felt to adhesive and trim with scissors and hobby knife.  This will keep things from moving around on your table.

~$1 from any craft hobby store, don't forget to use your weekly 40% off coupon
Next get out your big bottle of Elmer's (PVA) and apply glue in an irregular pattern around the edges and parts of the middle of each piece.  I'm not super careful but try to get pretty good coverage on the vertical edges where the tile meets the vinyl.

I lied, there is painting.  Use an old brush.
Sprinkle flock of your choice on the glue.

Woodland Scenic's Blended Turf Green Blend
Here is where you can get as involved or not as you like.  Gwen went with a single color, I went for 2 and 3 shades.  Whatever you feel like.  Some people are frugal about the flock and use it sparingly.  It does go a long way.  I just pile it on, it's pretty cheap.  Where the glue still shows I applied a second color and patted it all down nicely.

Burnt Grass on inside edges
Let that dry, shake it off, and on a hot, dry day, hit it with a couple of coats of matte lacquer.  That's an important step.  It seeps into the flock and locks it in place keeping the shedding and mess to a minimum.  That's my forest or woods base defining my area terrain.

Next I make the small sections with the trees to make it look like a forest.  Make or buy whatever trees you like but, do get bases for them.  I get pre-made ones.  The clump foliage never stays on very well so I do take some time with my hot glue gun and gel super glue to better attach the foliage onto the armatures.  I also put a tiny piece of masking tape on the bottom of the base where there is a hole.  This will prevent glue from wicking up the hole when you place them.

From Michael's, 40% off, about $1.50 each, you can do better, I didn't try hard
Take your small pieces and score an X into the vinyl with a utility knife at each place you intend to glue a tree.  Glue them on.

I used Epoxy, I wouldn't use PVA here.  Super Glue may be fine here, who knows?
Once dry repeat the procedure used on the bases.

Leave some of the tile showing through
This time I took a 3rd flock color "Earth" and completely covered up the tree bases in flock.

Once dry, shake excess, and seal with matte finish
You are just about done.  Stick the trees into the bases.  The little bit of lacquer that got into the holes of the bases made inserting the trees into the bases a press fit, nice and snug.  If you felt compelled you could glue them in.  Once assembled hit them with another coat of matte finish.  That will provide additional adhesion for the clump foliage on the trees.

All completed we have some serious forest for your game table.

Ready to make some bog checks?
No arguing, that's heavy terrain
 If you wanted you could dress up the tree sections.  Adding some clump foliage and grass tufts will definitely add to the visual appeal.  Do it to whatever level you like.  I went for a minor upgrade with multiple flock colors choosing quantity over quality.  I've made no attempt to hide the seam where the tree goes into the base but, I suppose you could if you where insane.  This terrain could easily work for many different scales and game systems.

Thanks for taking a look.  If you like what I am doing be sure to follow the blog or leave a comment.  I'll be featuring one of the units for my Flames of War US Engineer's next.



  1. Great article. I am making forests for a War of 1812 display game later in the year so will be referring back to this article.

  2. I've been making terrain using those inexpensive self-adhesive vinyl floor tiles for years, but never with the rough stone finish side actually facing UP! I always do it the other way around, using the adhesive to glue down contours or rocks, or whatever. Your use of felt on the underside is kind of genius, and works very well for your tree and forest area bases. Well done, and thanks for posting!

    1. Thanks. Genius credit must go to my hobby mentor, Gwen. She even got me putting felt on the FoW infantry bases. My teams never slide down hills or other features. For that you get the felt with the adhesive on it. I felt almost all my terrain pieces. It makes it feel more complete and they don't move around.