Friday 12 September 2014

Eastern White Pines

Over the last two weekends I have been making up a batch of trees.  The Algonquin region of Ontario I model is full of Eastern White Pines, Hemlocks, Cedars and Spruces for Evergreens.  To model these I have used a few different techniques.  For the Eastern White Pines or (EWP's) I make them one at a time branch by branch per the method developed by Mike Confalone in his Modelling outside the Box DVD's.  I start with a basswood dowel and taper the top 1/3 of it with a block plane and sandpaper.  The next step is to drill the holes for the branches.  I made a V-block out of a scrap piece of pine by making to angled cuts along its length with my table saw.  I then lay the trunk into the groove and drill holes though the trunk with my drill press and a 1/32"  bit.  I try to be random with the placement, but I put about 6-8 right near the top.  Having extra holes here helps to form the crown on the top of the EWP.

The next step is to add texture to the trunk.  I pull the dowels along a fine pitch hack saw blade.  This also removes any wood burs kicked up from drilling the holes.

Now for the branches.  Using the plant Caspia which can be purchased at flower shops or a craft store like Michaels, I cut off branches that don't have any buds on them.  These are then glued into the holes with Alien's Tacky Glue.  At the top of the tree I use short branches that sort of curl up to form the crown.  Moving down the trunk I use longer and longer branches until about half way down the branch section of the tree when I start using consistent length branches to fill out the rest of the tree.  For the last few branches I use twigs that don't have much of the fine branch structure like the rest of the tree.  This gives the effect of broken off branches typical of the lower part of the EWP.   I finish off by trimming any funny looking branches to shape the tree.  EWP's can have some branches extending for from the trunk so I do try to leave some like this.

From here its off to the paint both for a coat of Krylon Camouflage brown.  This is my favourite paint, I use it for all sorts of projects.  Track painting, freight car bottoms and trucks etc... Be sure to use this paint in a properly vented booth or outside. It is solvent based and makes lots of fumes.  I also wear a mask.  I leave the tree armatures to dry over night.

For flocking I use a mixture of Woodland Scenics and Noch static grass.  Basically a random mix of both company's darkest green. This is applied with the Noch grass master and hair spray as fixative.  Here is a picture showing my latest batch along with some other pines I will describe shortly just before planting.

A word or warning.  Making the EWP's is very time consuming.  This last batch of 6  took around 8 hours of actual working time to make. These are not something you can make dozens of in a hour or so, as with other methods.  But I think the EWP's look great and are a lot of fun to make.

To represent cedars and what I call 'other pines' I use super tree armatures, painted with the Camouflage brown paint and flocked with dark green Woodland Scenics static grass.  Again applied with the grass master and hair spray.

For spruces I use a commercial tree made by Cataract Creek Model Railway of Arnprior Ontario.  They are a bottle brush style tree.  They come in packs of 6 large, or 12 with 4 each of small, medium and tiny.  They also come with either a straight green colour or one with a hint of primer red dusted on.  I have used both on the Algonquin.

Here is a picture of the bottle brush trees.

Hemlocks......So far I have not attempted to make any hemlocks.  When I was at the Springfield show last January, I stopped by the Sterling Models booth.  They make some great looking trees.  One of which is a Hemlock.  I may order a few in a 9"-12" range.  Or I could make these myself from Caspia branches.  From studying the Sterling Models trees, I think the best method would be to use the branches with the buds. Gluing them into basswood trunks with the buds and the branches pointing down.  I would then flock them with fine ground foam and dust them with a Hunter Green spray bomb.


Armed with a decent supply of trees I decided to plant them into two different areas on the layout.  The layout is the shape of 'U', with a separate two track staging yard.  One of these days I will publish a track plan.  The areas I am working on right now are the two inside corners of the 'U'.  Each corner has a scene which requires a forested area.  Due to limited space the corners are not coved.  I need the space for the forest and structures.  Yet I needed a way to hide the sharp corner transitions.  On one corner the two backdrop sides have photo backdrops.  The other corner has one photo backdrop and one painted with a background forest using dark grey/brown paint with brush dabs at the top giving the illusion of tree tops.  To hide the corners I made two huge bottle brush trees and flocked them with dark Green static grass.  They look like giant spruces I guess.

Here are a couple of before shots of the scenes with the huge bottle brush trees and deciduous trees planted.

And here are a couple of photos of the scenes after planting.

I need to get one more large EWP and a couple of hemlocks into each scene to call the forest in these areas done, but overall I am happy with the how things are developing.


  1. Those white pines look terrific!

    1. Rene,

      Thanks for looking...


    2. Looks great Ryan gives me insentive to get off my butt and get going

  2. Ryan,
    I found your post after talking with Trevor Marshall. I am modeling Maine 2-foot and have been struggling to make a decent EWP. Thanks to your blog with great instructions, I've completed my first EWP and have 4 more under construction. I will need a total of 10 - 12 but this is doable. Thanks for the post!
    Pete Leach