Friday 21 August 2015

A Forest

Or the start of one at least!

For years I have looked in envy at the wonderful trees adorning many a British wargaming table. I was quite taken by the look of them – they looked so much better than the usual bottle-cleaner trees or the boring samey ones from Woodland Scenics.

After some research, I found out these trees seemed to be made by the same manufacturer, Last Valley Terrain. At Salute last year, I had the chance to see and admire the products up close, but due to the limited space in my suitcase, a purchase was not possible.

Rubberised horsehair – the magic stuff!

Instead I perused the Net for suitable tutorials and then promptly ordered some rubberised horsehair (it's not really horsehair these days though, more like organic fibres from coconuts or something), grabbed some of my Woodland Scenics tree armatures, a bottle of cheap hairspray and got to work.

This was my method:

  1. Remove any mould lines from the WS tree armatures and then twist them into the desired shapes.
  2. Glue to bases.
  3. Wetbrush mid/dark grey on the stems. Don't be too neat as a sloppy job just makes them look more natural.
  4. Wash with a dark brown wash, eg AP Strong Tone.
  5. Drybrush original mid/dark grey.
  6. Light drybrush with lighter grey.
  7. Tear off chunks in various sizes from the rubberised horsehair and tease these apart. 
  8. Paint some wood/PVA glue on the branches and then wind/stretch the rubberised horsehair over them. Leave to dry.
  9. If the rubberised horsehair still looks flat in some places, tease it apart as best as you can.
  10. Spray the rubberised horsehair with a generous amount of cheap (and sticky!) hairspray and pour your preferred flock over the tree. For my trial I used WS fine turf green blend. Wait for a while then shake of excess flock. 
  11. Spray heavily with more hair spray over the newly attached flock. Then spray some more.
  12. Wait an hour or more then do another heavy spray.
  13. Snip off any straggly bits of the rubberised horsehair with some scissors.
  14. Finish off the base in your preferred manner.
  15. Optional: The hairspray I used dried with a satin sheen. While this was not apparent on the turf, it did show on the stems. A couple of quick sprays with AP Anti-shine took care of this.

And there you have it!

These were all made very quickly as a test and I think they came out rather nice for a first try but of course there's always room for improvements. I learned a couple of important lessons from this trial, eg to try and tease the rubberised horsehair apart, to make it less flat. You can see some parts were I didn't do this enough and it makes the tree look a bit unnatural.

However, the major misstake was the bases. I mounted the trees on 5 mm foamcore but made the bases much too small and this made the trees very wobbly. When I realised this, I glued washers under the bases for some extra weight and this helped to some extent though they're still a bit unstable. I'm planning to do another batch and for these I'm looking at using 1 or 2 mm plastic card for the bases, and making sure to do them a bit larger than these first ones.

In the next batch, I will also experiment with adding some roots made from putty and vary the colours on both the stems and the foliage for a more natural look. I have an idea to make some birch trees as I think a grove of these would look really nice on the gaming table!

Have a great weekend everyone and thank you very much for reading!


  1. Beautiful result, and a quick and economical solution too! Perfect for adding a real deep forest-feeling to the table.

  2. They look wonderful, great job Jonas.

  3. That looks great! As yourself Ive long admired the british table top trees. Rubberised horsehair is indeed key for making them but my long quest so far has been in vain as Ive only found "gummerat hästtagel" at really expensive furniture craft stores. So the obvious question is: where did you order yours?
    Again: great result!

    1. Thanks Mattias!

      My first order of rubberised horsehair was from Antenocitis Workshop:

      The price is fine but the shipping can be a bit steep even for small orders. I've since found a better supplier on eBay:

      The price is slightly lower and shipping is *much* lower.

  4. Do you get the horsehair at a hobby shop? I haven't seen any here.

  5. Cheers everyone, much appreciated!

  6. They look great Jonas! Very nice indeed.
    With the additional of some small coloured balls they would make great fruit trees too.

  7. Exellent tutorial matey!

    I Will defenetly make some of time, just ned the magic stuff ;)

    Looking forward to see them at the gaming table.

    Best regards Michael