Sunday, 17 May 2015


Something I have been lacking in my terrain collection and meaning to put right for some time is suitable trees for orchards, so to rectify this I put them on my shopping list for Salute this year.


‘Last Valley’ do a nice smaller tree and was also selling walled orchards, so I ended up buying a couple of these which I then repainted to blend in with my own terrain. I will show you how I did this, along with making my own walled orchards and trees and upgrading an MDF building, plus a few other bits and pieces to add colour to your table.    



Most of my tree collection comes from ‘Last Valley’ but I thought I would have a go at making a few myself. Rather than having the same shade of green, I thought I would add a variety of colour and shape with my trees.

I had a pack of ‘Woodland Scenics’ plastic tree armatures so I secured these to a base using a glue gun, followed by a layer of Tile Grout and then sand and white glue to texture the base. Once dry, the tree and base were painted dark brown.



To add some body to the bare branches I attached steel wool (a large roll for less than £2 from 4D Model shop) to the end of the limbs. I did this by using an old pair of scissors to cut small pieces of steel wool and gluing this onto the tree with white glue. I used a quality thick wood glue rather than a cheaper, runny PVA glue to help form a good bond and brushed this onto the branches where I wanted the fix.

I have tried to keep away from the dense foliage effect that you get with your typical model tree when you stick a clump of rubberised horsehair on top and cover in tree foliage and instead, have gone for less foliage where you can actually see through the tree.



When the white glue holding the steel wool has dried, I used a black primer spray to cover the steel wool, trying to keep most of the paint on the upper part of the tree and away from the base. I then sprayed the tree with several colours using a light misting method, using a grey, mid brown and then green. I then brushed onto the trunk random patches of Wargames Foundry Phlegm Green.     



Paint and flock the base of your tree to match your existing terrain and then you are ready for adding foliage to the tree. I used tree foliage from ‘4D Modelshop’ on my larger trees and did this by brushing white glue onto the steel wool and then sprinkling the foliage on top. Whilst you have the glue and foliage out put a little of this onto your base as well to represent falling leaves and it also helps to make the tree and base/terrain look like they belong together.



I used ‘fine texture’ foliage for my trees, which I personally prefer the look of compared to the ‘clump’ foliage type of tree. An added advantage of fine texture foliage glued to steel wool is that it doesn’t keep dropping off the tree unlike clump foliage, which does. I have read that you can apparently spray the clump foliage with hairspray or other fixative to try and counter this, so if this is your thing and you want to go down this branch, then start spraying the Harmony.


I purchased some 4Ground apple trees at Salute this year for my orchards as they actually have lots of little red apples on the branches. The only drawback is, that these were also made with clump foliage, so I will have to handle them carefully to prevent too much of it ending up on the ground. They come with round MDF bases that slot into a bigger base that holds two and three trees in each. I have textured and painted these to match my own terrain and will keep them attached to the bigger base to help prevent them getting knocked and losing their foliage.           



4D do a range of different colour tree foliage, so apart from your light, medium and dark green colours you can also try using pink and green, yellow and green, red and green, plain white or whatever takes your fancy to brighten up your table.

I used the red and green on poppy fields that I made for my Afghanistan terrain and you could also use this colour for a rosebush and brambles. The yellow and green I have used for making springtime hedges and the pink and green is ideal for apple blossom.


I have done this with some of my ‘Last Valley’ trees simply by brushing white glue onto the existing foliage and then sprinkling with the colour foliage of your choice.



The springtime hedge can be made in literally just a couple of minutes. Cut or tear your rubberised horsehair to your required length and size. I cut mine with scissors about an inch wide and six inches long and then pull it apart into two pieces along its length. Brush white glue on the sides and top and cover in foliage. Job done, you don’t even need to paint the horsehair beforehand.
You can see the springtime hedge I made, which is just to the rear of the cart.

Same with the rosebush/brambles but I would spray the horsehair brown for this and then just tear off a little clump of horsehair and cover lightly in white glue and foliage. Easy.



I had some small plastic tree armatures that I bought cheaply off ebay and which came from Hong Kong. The first two trees that I ever made I used these armatures for, when I made a scenic base for my WW2 German anti-tank gun. This was my first experience of using clump foliage and I think it will only be a matter of time before I can start using the base for a winter theme as the trees shed their foliage.


The rest of the trees from this batch I have used for my orchard trees as they are small and have lots of branches. I have made them the same as I did for the bigger ‘Woodland Scenic’ trees but I used ‘Antenocitis Workshop’ tri-colour camouflage leaves, followed by some ‘miniNatur’ apple tree foliage to cover the steel wool.


I also used the tri-colour camo leaves over some small branches of Seefoam and glued this to my Tiger Tank and will probably use it on some of my other late war vehicles.



As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I used a couple of ‘Last Valley’ orchards that I purchased at Salute and repainted and flocked them to blend in with my own terrain. I also had a boxset of plastic walls from ‘Warlord Games’ that I decided to use to make a walled orchard. I laid all the walls out into a suitable configuration to give me an idea of how big a base board I would need for my orchard. I used hardboard for the base (smooth side up, as less absorbent, to help prevent warping) and glued the walls down onto this. I then used tile grout to cover up the joins on the walls and to use as a first textured layer for my base, followed by white glue and sand to finish the groundwork. I also had to make an additional small gate out of balsa wood as I had three openings and only two gates.


When dry, I did my usual method of painting, by covering the whole thing in ‘Sandtext’ masonry paint using Bitter Chocolate first. The wooden gates and ground work was given a drybrush of mid brown, followed by Sandtext mid stone. I skipped the mid brown on the walls and went straight for Mid Stone, where I used a mixture of painting and dry brushing to give the impression of a light colour mortar between the brickwork, followed by a mixture of Choc Brown and Mid Stone blotches and then just Choc Brown blotches over the wall. I finished off the painting of the wall by using ‘Wargames Foundry’ Phlegm Green 28A and then 28C dabbed on the top and in the corner of the walls and a little on the gates to give an impression of moss.



I have also been experimenting with light green, tree foliage (fine grade), to represent damp moss growing over the walls and roof tops of buildings and I used this to finish off the orchard walls along with my newly made trees and a couple of flowers from ‘miniNatur’ glued into the corners.



Inspired by the way Richard Clarke modified his Radar Station and all his other buildings, I did a direct copy as they look so bloody good I just had to have one. (See his excellent blog at 'Too Fat Lardies'  for a better version of how this and his other buildings are made.)


I also put together the Chateau that Sarissa make and added the moss effects that I mentioned earlier, along with some vines from ‘miniNatur’ growing up the side of the wall.


The water fountain is another piece of MDF kit by Sarissa but I have just gone for the painted moss effect with this, whereas the walls behind have had both painted and foliage versions of moss applied.


I used the original base from the radar Station along with an old ruined tower kit that I had, which had been lying about unfinished for years and used this for a test piece for trying out some painting and texturing moss effects.

I also made a colour chart for mixing my static grass to get a more pleasing effect, rather than just applying one colour straight from the tub.

Hope this has been of some use to you and will help to bring some colour to your battlefield.
And to finish off, the usual action shots using the latest collection of terrain.









  1. That's some really beautiful work Pat!!! I'm extremely jealous!

  2. Wow, amazing, creative and beautifully presented!

  3. Wow Pat! That is one tour de force of terrain making!! Absolutely superb!!



  5. Stunning terrain ... well done!!

  6. Fabulous post Pat and as always, fantstically informative and well explained. I always come away from your "How to" posts feeling that I can actually make something that looks half ok...and that is saying something! Cheers.

  7. Wire wool for the foliage...clever!!! Really Excellent scenery and "how too"

  8. Nice work Pat. Very effective. The extreme time and effort is so worth it with terrain.

  9. You never fail to do anything other than impress me with your tables Pat :)

  10. Fantastic work, Pat. I love the idea of wire wool for the foliage! Terrific!

  11. I really appreciate the fact that you share your process. Keep up the good work mate!

  12. This is a lesson I will take to heart. Your scenery is stunning and adds great ambience to the whole war-game scene. Thanks for posting.

  13. Very impressive as always, Pat. Nice tutorial shots, and I never would've thought of using steel wool for foliage - looks great the way you did them.

  14. So beautiful it hurts. Your collection is an inspiration. Great additions and very informative tutorials. /Mattias

  15. Really wonderful work!!! Fantastic collection of terrain elements.

  16. Fantastic stuff as always! Very interesting tutorial. I only wish I had the patience for such fantastic scenery. The mossy roof looks absolutely convincing. Got to try this out asap.

  17. Just got back into wargaming after a two year hiatus, and your stuff is really inspiring! Quick non-terrain question though; what's your colour process for the sandy miniature bases (specifically the war of the roses ones)? I'm trying to replicate the bright dirt look to no avail, i love the way it contrasts with the dark-browns of the terrain pieces!

  18. Thanks again chaps.
    Rowen, I used Wargames Foundry tri colour 'Base Sand' 10A, B, and C.

  19. Absolutely stunning work Pat and some really great terrain tips to boot!

  20. Fantastic and absolutely inspiring. You're terrain pieces are always so vivid... Awesome eye-candy !

  21. I also have a color question. Your earth colors in that orchard and tree bases astound me. I've seen many attempts, and yours is sooo good. We dont have Sandtex here in the States, it seems, so matching "mid stone" and "mid brown" by sight has been tricky. Any suggestions on miniature paint lines, or RYB colors I can have matched at the local paint store?

    1. Hi, for a 'mid brown' I guess something like Vallejo orange brown 981 or Wargames Foundry Chestnut 53B. For 'Mid Stone' maybe Wargames Foundry Rawhide 11C. The Sandtex Bitter Chocolate is a very dark brown so something like Vallejo Choc Brown would probably do. These colours look near enough when looking at them in the pot but when painted onto your terrain the colour may not be right. You will have to keep on experimenting until you find a colour you are happy with.

  22. Is it Sandtex Smooth or Sandtex Fine Textured that you use?