Monday, May 14, 2012

The Best Day to Make Trees Is Two Years Ago, Or Today

Yep, even in dry California, I never have enough trees on the layout. This weekend's hot weather encouraged me to go on a tree-building kick, pulling out the Supertrees, the matte medium, and the tarps for an afternoon of sunburn and ground foam stuck to my hands.

It took me years til I figured out how to make trees that I found at all realistic. As a teenager, I found Woodland Scenics' metal armature trees a pain to make and unrealistic, both in color, shape, and size. I never understood why their trees were so small til we drove through Texas one year and I saw what counted as trees out in North Texas. Heck, we've got chaparral bigger than that. I didn't have any better luck stretching the foilage over the plastic armature trees, and the results never looked like my favorite places in California (whether up in the drier hills, as seen in the first photo in this set, or down in the canyons near the redwoods).

In the last few years, I've finally found the styles I'll stick with - Woodland Scenics' plastic armature pine trees for the redwood forests around Wrights, their small plastic armature trees for my orchards, and a combination of Supertrees and Woodland Scenics fine-leaf foilage for small trees and bushes. The Supertrees work well for the larger deciduous trees - the buckeye, laurel, and sycamore - start with the cone-shaped tops of the Supertree weed armatures, and get pale green ground foams. The round coast live oaks are shaped from the lower portions of the armatures, and get the dark green Noch leaf flakes.

I got about 40-50 trees done over the afternoon, and would have done more except I ran out of clothespins to hold them while drying. More clothespins are on my shopping list before next time.

All the trees went along the tracks between Alma and Wrights. This stretch had been completely empty and distracted from two nice scenes on either side, but now it's a continuous stretch of trees. Here's some photos of the completed scene.
[Real California scenery photos both from Almaden Quicksilver County Park.]

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