How to make trees like Martin – by Martin!

Martin posted this in reply to all your comments on his model trees (see ’em here).

But I thought it worth sharing with you all.

Judging by all the comments, you’re all looking forward to his ‘how to’ as much as I am.

In the meantime, here’s his short version. A big thank you Martin!

“Hi it’s Martin,

Not got around to making a step by step photo guide yet but a brief description for anyone wanting to make a start on your own trees.

“I used to make Christmas holly wreaths years agao, and remembered that I had lots of mild steel florist wires left over in my ‘it may come in handy someday’ box.

The wires I used are are around .9mm thick and 9″ long. There are 2 ways of working – upwards or downwards. First I’ll briefly tel you about the upwards method.

I get a bundle of about 21 wires and wrap masking tape around one end. I then grip with plyers and with mor plyers start twisting the wires to form a trunk, around a third of the length I seperate 3 wires and twist them together for the bottom branch, leaving the ends seperated to later add the foliage.

I go back to the trunk and twist them a little and then pull off 3 more wires at the opposite side and twist them together for the 2nd branch. I keep doing that up the trunk to form the tree, branches getting shorter as you go.
I must point out that it is best not to pull off 3 wires from the outside but instead try get one from within the trunk. This stops the branch from working loose.

When you are happy with the shape go to the bottom and remove the tape. This is so that you can pull some out to form roots (they make the tree stable) leaving 3 wires stuck out which I twist together to form a spike to stick into the scenery. If you have too many wires left over then clip them off level with the base of the roots.

Next is to paint the whole tree areature with PVA white glue. When dry you can add the bark mixture to cover the wires. This is made from a plaster type of powder mixed with PVA glue, not too thin but just enough to be able to paint it onto the trunk/branches with a small paintbrush. set it aside to dry (I stand them near a rad.). You will find that the bark has soked in between the wires so you may have to apply 2 or 3 coats.

When dry you can paint with a water based paint but remember that trees are not black.

Now adding foliage…. many different methods to do this.

1) One of the most effective (and the most expensive) is to glue pieces of wodland scenics fine leaf foliage by heavy stick contact adhesive onto the wires. (the top pic is this method)

2) Another method is by woodland scenics or bachmann foliage net which can be torn apart and draped over the branches. (2nd & 4th picks are this method)

3) The weeping willow is glue painted onto the multi- wires (you need thinner & many more wires to make these trees) A fine flock scatter is then applied to the many single wires. (a long job).

4) The last picture shows foliage made from bunches of fine hairs glued onto the wire branches. Then a very generous spray of max. hold hair spray. then apply a scatter gently onto the hair and it instantly transforms like magic. There are many different types of leaf scatter but to get a good effect it is best to use fine or medium grades. I also found that some types of manufactured leaves drop off the hair in time, but the flock material type stay on the tree.

Anyway I hope that this gives you some ideas and you have a go for yourself? I think that wire of around .5mm thickness is better but I need to use up my stock in the saved box!

I will explain the Downwards method another time.

Really can’t thank Martin enough for sharing.



PS If you liked Martins how-to, I suspect you’ll love the Beginner’s Guide.

11 Responses to How to make trees like Martin – by Martin!

  1. Martin says:

    Thanks for publishing my ‘how to’, I must in future check through my messages as there is far too many missing letters and spelling mistakes! I think that I must be pressing the wrong keys on the keyboard? Sorry!

  2. builder Kim says:

    Wow those are some great looking tree’s.Better than mine for sure.Keep up the great senery ideas .

  3. Sheila says:

    Thanks for the instructions. They are very timely as several members in my club (and myself) have been discussing making trees. Very much appreciate your method.

  4. Ralph says:

    Splendid, makes a change from all those how to make pine trees sites.
    I have access to an endless supply of small gauge electrical conductor so I am rushing off to give this a try.

  5. Ben Taul says:

    thanks for tree tips . al i sent you some pics of my table in progress did you get them
    Merna neb. usa

  6. tony says:

    big thankyou to martin and al for these great tips on trees willuse this mettod for small woodland under construction/planting

  7. Dave Biddles says:

    A1 effects & demonstration of Skill, ‘Luv’ & Care… but don’t just say thanks…. SHARE yours… !

    An ‘also-ran’ for the (non) railway buff – but for the scenic modeller who scouts the talented in your pages & for the wargamer who wants ‘quality’ but movable trees – keep the root-wires and wrap them around a 2p piece { 25c sized for the US } then epoxy a second [ or an ‘old 1d coin’ ] underneath, to create a weighted-down recycleable tree. The ‘step’ between is of course ‘sloped’ by a small amount of filler { & ‘151’ instant filler is not only teriffic but, is 99p a tube in the discount-stores }.

    ‘Cheap’ grass follows, Acrylic Mid-tone green ( @99p ) thickly applied with a good sprinkle of fine sand, followed by a second [water-thinned] application of green over the sand just before it’s touch-dry – then leave to fully dry before ‘touching-up’ with sades of green & browns – now let the artist in you Rule. Really effective and the coarser the sand, the longer the ‘grass’.


    Lurve the demo’s – Love the videos, envy the talent { except Ugg, your ‘Airfix thatched-cottage’ Dave – Hope you have a dropping ‘cinder’ catching the ‘taupalin-roof’ – penalty of steam.

    Now, ‘N’ guage sounds SOoooo damn good and is almost compatable with 15mm wargaming figures – soon there may be a 125 looping around Hougamont and La Haye Saint.

  8. peter Briggs says:

    Martin, those trees are so bloody professional, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with us.

  9. Bruce Smith says:

    I used a similar method making cacti for a desert diorama my son did for school. It is surprisingly simple for those of you who haven’t tried it. I got hooked and am anxious to do it again with my youngest.

  10. GOPAL DAGA says:

    Very good suggestions to make foliage out of supplies from Woodlands etc. Here is a NO cost version to create the same, if you like it ?
    Take a 4 or 5mm foam sheet and dip into a shade of acrylic colour, you desire. Let it dry overnight. Tear them in small pieces and vigorously churn them in your mixie till it becomes almost powder. This make great FOILAGE. Now stick them to the branches, as desired. Your tree is ready.
    GOPAL Daga, India

  11. Lawrence says:

    Does anyone use “lint” from the clothes dryer? I have a N scale layout in the build stage and want to make my own trees. I like the wire idea from Martin in the “How to make” section. I read somewhere that you can use lint and somehow color it.

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