Make trees for model train layouts

Kaustav’s been back in touch – this time he shows us how to make trees for model train layouts:

“Hi Al,

Every time I took a closer look at my scenes, one thing always bothered me – how unrealistic my trees look!

All the trees that are currently installed in Wrightsville Port are off the shelf products – I spent different amount of money when I bought them, but overall they never live up to the standard of the rest of the scenes.

When I look at off the shelf ‘fine scale’ or ‘craftsman’ trees, I always find the price to be prohibitive.

While searching for ways to make better looking scale trees I experimented quite a bit and found this one way that doesn’t burn your pocket and when done right, can give you some incredible trees for the foreground of your model. I thought it’s worth sharing the method here. Believe it or not, these trees are meant for N Scale! Though they will do pretty good for HO too.

Here are the broad steps:

1. Take commonly available plastic armatures and bend them to suit the shape of the tree (I used Sycamore, Beech, Hickory etc.)

Make trees for model train layouts

2. Attach small seafoam twigs to the branches using super glue.

Make trees for model train layouts

Make trees for model train layouts

3. You get the basic structure.

Make trees for model train layouts

Make trees for model train layouts

4. Paint them using spray paint and airbrush.

5. You get the bare tree in the colour you need.

6. You add suitable foliage and leaves.

Make trees for model train layouts

7. You get some awesome trees!

model railroad trees

Make trees for model train layouts

model railroad trees

model railroad trees

I have documented the process in detailed, but quick to watch videos – you can find the process to make autumn trees in this video:

Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

Hope this is helpful for your subscribers.



A big thanks to Kaustav for his pics and narrative on how to make trees for model train layouts. He’s pretty much kit bashing trees, which is something I never would have thought of in a million years. But that’s what I love about the blog – you lot make it what it is.

And by the way, if you missed Kaustav’s stunning layout, it’s here.

That’s all for today folks.

Please do keep ’em coming. Or if you just want to take the plunge and start your layout, the Beginner’s Guide is here.



PS Latest ebay cheat sheet is here.

25 Responses to Make trees for model train layouts

  1. Very nice trees. I may actually try this.

  2. Chris Arnold says:

    What a great idea and video tutorial. Thank you.

  3. Bill Holt says:


  4. Beautiful work. Amazing. Such talent is very impressive.

  5. george zaky says:

    Many thanks for the trees and especially the barge. You are a super craftsman and your attention to detail is incredible.
    George from NY

  6. Laurent Daudelin says:

    Nice. But what are “available plastic armatures”?

  7. What are plastic armatures

  8. Benjamin Wright says:

    Wow! Amazing trees!

  9. Eric Rayner says:

    For those mentioning plastic armatures try Woodland Scenics they do a range of them they make good trees with a little effort.That’s what I use for my trees.
    Love Kaustav”s trees they have turned out very well indeed, very realistic, well done.

  10. Jim Moran says:

    Gorgeous trees! Can’t believe my eyes. BUT….I’m a novice and have no clue what a “plastic armature” is. A wire? What gauge? What’s a “seafoam twig” and where can I get one? Would have been nice if we saw the initial creation of the tree itself.

  11. Jim AZ says:

    Nice. More than nice. Great looking and a well thought out process. Thanks for sharing.

    Jim AZ

  12. Kaustav says:

    Thank you everyone for the comments and encouragement.

    I realize I should’ve provided some more background. The video provides a lot of the explanation and shows the process in detail, but here are answers for quick reference.

    Plastic Armature: These are molded scale tree armature made out of plastic. Most famous manufacturer is Woodland Scenics, but there are others like Heki. You can buy them in lot in cheap price and then shape them to fit the species that you’re moedling.

    Seafoam: This might be a little more alien to most, but believe me that these are possibly the best scale tree armatures you can ever find!. These are natural plant materials and Scenic Express sell them as ‘Super Trees.’ However, there are others who started selling them as well, including Heki.

    Both the materials are actually commonly available now-a-days, so just google them and see. If you still cannot find it, leave a message with me I can share specific link.


  13. Amazing trees, thanks for the lesson in construction of them. love the finished product.

  14. Awesome Tip!
    Great Tutorial…

  15. Marklin ed says:

    Also great video on iTunes Marklin of Sweden on making trees

  16. Charlie Hagerty says:

    WOW! Your trees are great. I’m definitely going to try this.

  17. Richard Fath says:

    Great looking trees, thanks for sharing.
    A number of years back i made a 4×8 platform that i took to work and set up in our engineering lab. since i didn’t have a lot of time to scenic it i painted the base white so it was a snow layout. I used Woodland Scenic armatures with nothing on them, looked just like winter trees, the naked armatures look great, haha.

  18. Jeff says:

    Those look awesome and thank you for leaving additional comments for the questions being answered over and over as I had them too. Now just hope I can find armatures for S scale.

  19. Bill Holt says:

    Well Done !!

  20. Jeff says:

    Wow Wow Wow Me!!! As a professional Horticulturist and Arborist the one aspect of scenery I most enjoy with model railroading has always been creating plants and trees that are realistic. I loved your video so much that I subscrided. For natural deciduous tree armatures I like to use sagebrush cuttings. For fir trees I love the dried ends of Ilex crenata convexa. Hot damn are they real!
    I also use alot of plants from my garden and material I find in nature. I like to say that I’m preserving and enhancing nature in miniature form… ha ha
    Check out my gardening YouTube videos search Gardening with Jeff
    Nicely done my friend!

  21. Robert Brady says:

    Well Jeff took the words out of all of our mouths
    The Flora and fauna looks so realistic.
    The Critic

  22. Peter Briggs says:

    Can you tell us where you purchase your ‘armatures’? Your post was a really good demonstration on how to make your own!

  23. Glyn Jones says:

    Wonderful trees Kaustav- I’ll be trying some on my layout as I have both sea foam and the WS armatures. Another great resource for trees: Boomer from British Columbia and Luke Towan from Australia, both on YouTube – outstanding realist modelers and scratch builders.

  24. Jim Donovan says:

    Good Job, I really like these.

  25. Tom Moreno says:

    I really like the videos of the trains, but I really, really like videos when the camera is on the front of the train. I think you get a much better feel for the layout.

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