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Back Scene Trees – Part 2


In my last post, I suggested a way to take the video by Gormo on background trees, to another level. I followed the basic steps – select a tree you like or want to fit into your layout, print it to OO/HO scale, cut it out and mount it. I used 2mm plasticard, as there are no concerns with warping with water-based paints and adhesives. I then added in branches made of twisted wire, and these were cemented into place. Once set and secure, the branch armatures were then covered in a 75% filler, 25% PVA glue mix that forms a thick slurry and can be build up in layers. Thicker sections are 100% filler added in small increments and finished as work progresses.


I use only a paintbrush and a wax caver left over from the days when I  used to practice as a dental surgeon – we have lots of useful tools that can be used in modelling!!

The slurry is painted on, and for the main trunk growth, this is built in layers; the base is thickened with 100% filler to a 1/2 trunk, and tapered towards the tree top. You can see this in the photos I have attached. The texture is moulded into the drying filler with the knife-edge of the wax carver that I have adapted for both placer the filler and for sculpting the bark.

Once dry – usually over 24 hours for the plasticard bases – painting can begin. I use a black brown wash over all the trunks and branches, followed by dry brushing yellows and green for that wet-moss look you see in the UK and Europe. I let that set, then use a dry-brush of light brown to highlight the bark texture, trying to make each tree slightly different.

You can see the end result before foliage is added, and that will come in Part-3. I must strees again, that this method takes a great deal of time, unless you have some sort of production run set-up. It has to be the most expensive set of trees I have made in terms of time!

Until next time and Part-3, happy building!





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About The Author


I started with a train set aged 4. My mother was convinced it was for my father and not me. The first layout we built was a standard 6x4 ply sheet. impossible for a small boy to get across, and impossible for our cleaners to get into my bedroom! when not in use, it stood against a wall, and gradually developed a 'warped-look'! but the smell of smoke generation fluid for my Churchill loco, and lubrication oil still is fixed in my mind! my sister and I added Mini-Trix road with cars and lorries. It was with great regret it was all sold when we moved to the Far East where Dad was posted. Year later as a student I was walking past a Sheffield model shop and an 'HOe' set was on sale. so the bug bit again, and I was the only Geography/Geology student with a train set! It is turn was sold when I qualified. Then years later after settling in Thames Valley and opening my own dental practice - I re-qualified as a dentist - I took over the loft of our house and helped by my two children, we build a huge 'N' gauge layout. but in winter it was too cold to work on, rails shrunk, and fingers went numb! Summer, it was too hot, the rails expanded and buckled, and the chipboard base was a disaster. As my children grew up, there were more exciting things to do, and when the house was sold, the complete layout was dismantled and sold. I kept the 'G'scale garden rail set - this was a swap for dental treatment for one of my patients! After selling my Thames Valley practice, I moved to Hailsham and commuted between the UK and South Africa; one day my work desk became a train layout! that was sold when I moved back home to South Africa. My partner went away for a group drawl with a birthday friend, and the day she left, the local timber yard turned up with the base timber, and foam of the scenery. I created a HO/OO layout on a 6x3 base, and planned it as a series of modules that could be re-configured at shows. My partner was not impressed with a train layout in the middle of our lounge, and then I had my first heart attack, it it stayed, pushed up behind the furniture! after a fire obliterated our garage - it went from full to ash in about 3 hours! it was the fastest clear out possible, but also took out my prized wine collection and tools I used. It was completely demolished and rebuilt! For me there was only one use this empty space should be used for!! So the basis for 'Hambledon' was born. A friend of mine bolted the complete set of modules - I have 4 blank canvases to fill - and Module 1 from the lounge was ceremoniously bolted into place. So while flat on my ass on my various visits to ICU with heart failure, I planned and sketched the different areas; Castle Hill, with the dock and canal below, Brewery Hill , leading to Module 1, and then the last turn around set of tracks below Creamery Rise.

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