Gardening and Miniature Wargaming are not normally two hobbies that have a clear connection, but on a recent autumnal day club member Jeremey managed to turn green fingers into um… terrain building fingers.
It was time to tidy up the garden and get it ready for the coming winter months. I had recently cut down a shrub that had seen it’s last summer and needed to chop it up for the compost heap. Whilst doing so I got to the main trunk of the shrub and thought (as comes naturally) that maybe it would work as a piece of scenery.
I’d always wanted an old gnarly tree as a feature piece in a game, especially to act as some ancient druidic meeting place in fantasy games. The shrub had already dried out and so I snapped of some of the branches I didn’t want and then cleaned the stump in the sink with an old toothbrush to get the dirt off. I then put in on the radiator for a while so that the heat would dry it out completely.
I turned to my old favourite EVA foam for the base. I didn’t have a large piece of MDF or something similar for the base. But then I also did not want this on a huge base, just one big enough to support the tree. By using foam I was also able to cut holes in it to sink the tree and branches into it. The tree was quite tall so so I added a bit of weight with some washers to stop it being easy to knock over. The trusty glue gun was used to stick all of this down.
For basing I went for a material that I have found to be a very cheap and effective way for covering large areas. Bathroom sealant, that is basically any sealant that is used for waterproofing round sinks, baths, showers. For use in terrain building I buy the cheapest version from somewhere like Poundland. I’d never use this cheap stuff for actually sealing anything, likewise I wouldn’t use the expensive stuff from the DIY store to make scenery with. I put an amount in a container and then add cheap acrylic paint depending on the colour required. In this case I added black and brown. Once mixed together I spread it into place with a small stick and then use an old paintbrush to move it around and provide texture. Adding paint can increase the drying time of the sealant but depending on the thickness it should dry in a couple of hours.
One the sealant was dry I did a bit of dry brushing of the dirt base to give a nice contrast. At this point I did also paint bits of the actual tree with watered down brown ink, this was mainly to ‘dirty’ up the recently snapped off bits so they didn’t look like new breaks and had weathered like the rest of the tree. Finally I added a bit of flock and some tufts. Not too many as I didn’t want the dead tree surrounded by lush vegetation.
And there we have it. I think the base of the old shrub works perfectly as an ancient old tree and you’d be hard pressed to find a commercial piece of terrain to match it. I also didn’t have to paint the tree making this one of those projects you can do in a day.