I’ve always had a thing for Battletech, but I’ve never had a thing for flat, paper maps. So I thought I’d try to make those paper maps more interesting by adding some scenic trees.
Whenever I have looked into buying 1/300 scenic trees I was never able to find anything I liked. I did eventually find a nice selection of trees in a local art store, but they were a bit expensive considering I needed about 70 of them. After a friend tipped me off to some decent looking trees on Ebay, I was finally able to get a large amount of trees for a reasonable price.
I wanted the trees on round bases, instead of hexes, so they would look sensible in any 1/300 game. Its very easy to buy round bases, but I chose to make my own. I grabbed my circle drawing template and decided that the 31mm circle was a good fit for a Battletech map hex. I cut out bases from 1mm card. This was a bit of a chore, so I did it in shifts.
I have had so many problems with warping cardboard in the past that I decided to give the bases a coating of Mod Podge mixed with black paint. I’m not really sure if it helped much, but none of them warped. These bases aren’t very big and are circular, so they tend not to warp much anyway.
Next, I cut the tree trunks with a pair of plastic snips, to make the trees varying heights . I also made an angled cut at the bottom of the trunk to make it more pointed. This seemed to help in the next step.
The next challenge was sticking the trees to the base. I did this by rolling small balls of Milliput which I pushed onto the base. I pushed down around the edges to form a cone or pyramid shape. This gave the trees something solid to stick to, as well as blending the Milliput into the base. I then pushed the trees into the Milliput. Having already made the base of the trunk pointy helped with penetrating the Milliput, but it is not vital.
With a little pinching, the Milliput does a good job of holding the trees straight. I spent a bit too much time doing this, then rotating the base and straightening from a different angle, rotating again and repeating, I eventually settled on “good enough”. The trees themselves are rarely straight, so they will always look crooked from some angle.
An alternative is to use air drying clay instead of Milliput. In the end I went with the Milliput because it dries faster and sticks really well. The air dried clay needs PVA glue to help it stick to the tree and the base.
After painting the base dark brown and letting it dry, I flocked it. This was done by painting the base with a 50/50 mix of PVA glue and water. I then dropped some coarse turf, and then some fine turf, onto the wet base.
The final step was to make enough to fill a Battletech map! I made light woods with two trees on a base and light green turf. I made heavy woods with three trees on a base and dark green turf. Using just the lighter trees for light woods and the darker trees for heavy woods was an option, but I prefer having the mix of greens.