How to Make Trees: A Step-by-Step Tutorial

Trees are an essential element in any model or diorama, whether you’re building a war gaming terrain, a D&D campaign, or a home decor project. In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create a realistic tree using wire and flocking material.

Step 1: Creating the Armature

To begin, you’ll need 22 gauge floral wire. Split the wire into five uneven bundles and bend them at a 90-degree angle, 2-3 inches from the bottom. Then, wrap one wire a couple of times up the long end and another one a couple of times down the short end. Wrap two of the bundles a few inches up, then combine all the bundles and wrap them together with one of the low wires.

Keep wrapping up the trunk until you’re ready for your first branch. Split off a thick group of wires for a low hanging branch. From here, you can keep working up the trunk, splitting branches where you see fit. When you get down to four wires, you can just twist them instead of wrapping. These wires can get unruly after a while, so you can bend them out of the way while you work.

Step 2: Making the Bark

Once the armature is done, it’s time to make the bark. Use hot glue to cover the wire, starting at the ends and working your way towards the trunk. Use a toothpick to push the glue around in tight spaces.

When you’re happy with the coverage, go around and pick off all the annoying hot glue spiderwebs. Now, you can add texture to the bark using the hot end of the glue gun. Larger drips can be smoothed down with the flat part of the nozzle. You can also use a heat adjustable wood burner on the lowest setting for more control. Follow the direction of the curves until you’re happy with the texture.

Step 3: Adding the Zipper Trees

The next step is to add zipper trees, also known as seafoam trees. Take out a few bunches, then break off sections at the base. Cyanoacrylate with a can of accelerant is necessary for good adhesion. Stick the bundles to the ends of your branches or a little further back with a larger piece.

The pieces have a fluffy side and a flat side. Make sure you put the fluffy side up or away from the tree as it looks more natural that way. Keep adding them until you have a tree that looks like a tree.

Step 4: Painting and Flocking

Once the texture is added, it’s time to paint and flock the tree. Prime it in black, then airbrush or use a cheap can of brown or gray spray paint. Dry brush by dabbing some paint on a fluffy brush and flicking it over the surface to catch all the raised areas.

Then, do a wash coat by thinning down some black and brown acrylic paint and slopping it over everything liberally. Now, you can flock the tree using your desired color. Spray some thinned PVA on all the branches over the sink, then sprinkle the flock over all the ends. Add three layers, allowing about 10 minutes to dry between coats. Use a stiff-bristled brush and tweezers to remove the flocking from the trunk and larger branches.

Step 5: Finishing Touches

If you’re using the tree for terrain, you can leave it as is or make a base for it. If you’re making it for decor, you can model and print a simple pot for it. Paint the pot in a complementary color and add substrate using dried moss from a local trail.

And there you have it – a realistic tree made from wire and flocking material. This project may take some time, but the final result is worth the effort. Whether you’re a model builder or just someone who wants a unique piece of decor, this tutorial will help you create a beautiful tree that looks like it was plucked right out of nature.