I think making model pine or conifer trees is one of the most common model tree making topics in the miniature artist/hobbyist community. For most common target model scenes pines are possibly the most common trees. If you go by the popular methods, it is fairly easy to make them. However, have you actually taken a little deeper look in the broad generalization of ‘pine?’ There are over a 100 different species of conifers in the world and they come in all shapes and sizes. Now that I am paying special attention to tree making, I am becoming less and less inclined towards the word ‘generic’ – there is no concept of a’ generic’ tree in nature. Yes, for a background scene, behind the building, large forest canopy etc. it never makes sense to make highly detailed trees, but any tree in the normal viewing area of a model train or diorama must have it’s individual identity. The observer should be able to recognize a tree to at least some level of specificity. In my last few attempts I’ve made hickory, dogwood, birch and sycamore, and when it came to the conifers, I started with Red Pine.
In most common techniques or products, no special attention is given to the branch structure or needles of a pine tree, though they, in most occasion should be the defining characters of the model. Yes, there are pine foliage available from some more expensive options like MiniNature Silfor leaves and other products, but I was looking for a more full proof solution.
So I decided to go all natural! I got some twigs from my aunt’s garden, some dry branches and asparagus fern needles and got cracking. The asparagus fern needles were originally sourced to preserve and to be used as pine needles themselves, but I encountered two problem. First, I couldn’t get to preserve them early enough (you basically need to do that as soon as you pluck them from the tree), so they were useless for traditional glycerin based preservation. Second, the needles were too big for an N Scale tree. So I thought of using them as branches and twigs and not as pine needles.
Now, how to solve the needle problem? Easy – Static Grass. Static Grass comes in variety of shapes and sizes and for small scales like N and HO, they are perfect to make pine needles. So ordered a few packets of grass along with a Peco Precision Static Grass Applicator from Hattons.
So, enough reading, here is the full video demonstrating all the techniques that I used to make these excellent pine trees. Can’t wait to make a few more!