We started by cutting out 6 MDF bases of varying sizes, setting the jigsaw at a 45 degree angle so the base edges have a slope. For storage I wanted the trees to be removable and had bought trees with wire pins rather than integrated bases, but a 6mm base will not provide deep enough holes for the trees to stick into so the first task was to build up some tree stumps using Sculptamold. We placed 6-9 stumps per base depending on how big the base was; enough that generally line of sight would be completely obstructed from one side of the base to the other, or at least severely hampered (aided by the fact I had purchased a mixture of trees including some very tall ones indeed at 7″ – these would look realistically imposing and even provide good cover for the likes of a Wraithknight or Imperial Knight). The stumps were roughly formed into shape with some suggestion of root structures; they’ll mostly be hidden during play so we didn’t spend huge amounts of time on them.
Once dry the bases received a coat of PVA and then were textured using sand, earth and small cork rocks. Once that was dry I fixed the texture with an application of wet water then scenic cement, both applied from a pump bottle. Once that was dry I again pumped wet water over the bases before giving them a coat of burnt umber acrylic. The wet water really speeds up this whole stage.
Separately the trees were all stuck into a big block of polystyrene and misted with white spray to represent frost and light snow. Then, I applied snow mix for the more heavy snow, focussing on the tops of the trees.
Back to the bases and I oil washed the stumps with black oil paint thinned with turps to add some depth, then drybrushed the bases with various earthy and rocky tones. Again I was not being too careful or picky here, much of the base will be covered with snow! I then made a final application of scatter material, this time various types of tea torn out of a few teabags and some Woodland Scenics “weeds” scatter. This again was applied and fixed with wet water and scenic cement.
One problem with many wargaming forests I see is they don’t actually look like they provide much cover. A few trees dotted on a base will rarely hide a model well or provide much cover. You can of course agree to play forests as “area terrain” but with 40k currently a true line of sight game I thought it would be nice to at least have the option of playing them as “what you see is what you get” scenery where they actually conceal models within them. I already had ensured that there would be enough trees per base to mostly block line of sight through the forests, but I also now added a number of bushes using Woodland Scenics clump foliage and a hot glue gun so that models on the base would tend to either be hidden behind a tree or in actual cover behind a bush. This all makes the bases somewhat impractical to play on but I mostly care about an immersive game experience more than as easy one! It also means that they genuinely look like difficult terrain, justifying the movement penalties you’ll experience.
Holes were drilled into the stumps and partially into the MDF to receive the trees. As sculptamold is not the strongest stuff in the world we then lined these holes with plastic tube cut from some cotton buds which was stuck in with superglue. This will prevent the stump holes degrading leading to wonky or loose trees.
Finally I painted the edges white using artists gesso (very opaque white paint) and then applied snow mix to the bases, thickly to the edges and in any open “clearings”, getting thinner and more patchy towards the trees and leaving a ring of exposed forest floor around each stump, which looks a little odd until you actually stick the trees in when it makes much more sense.
I discovered that having used tea for the forest litter, this leaks through the snow mix turning it a bit yellow. The effect was not too noticeable once the trees are inserted so I left it as is, but if you like a second coat would take most of the yellow colour away (or just don’t use tea).
Click on these delightfully doctored images for full sized versions.