Woods and forests are one of the essential elements of any wargames terrain collection. If you buy them, ready-made or in kit form, they tend be one of two designs. There's the mini christmas tree look to emulate conifer trees, or the toffee apple look to emulate deciduous trees. There's nothing wrong with them, I have a small collection myself, but they are a bit samey and far from realistic.
The problem with having more elaborate and realistic trees, is that they can be quite expensive to buy, or very time consuming to make. I want to make some reasonably realistic trees, but I want them to be cheap and quick. Is this possible?
I started with the roots, or rather the bases. I want my trees to be reasonably stable on the tabletop. The easiest way to do this is to stick several on to a large base, a piece of mdf, hardboard or plasticard is usually used. However, this approach can cause problems when little soldiers want to get in to the trees and they don't fit. For this reason, most gamers use removable trees. When the troops march up to the forest, just pop a few trunks to one side, march in, replace the trees and job done. So the trees need to be stable but also removable.
My roots are simply paper clips, bent into mini stands with one upright "pin" on which the trunk will fit. These are fixed to a two pence piece, the more recent ones are magnetic - it's worth testing this before you go further. You could also use a washer though these are not magnetic to my knowledge. I bent the clips using my fingers, you could also use a pair of plyers. I stuck them on to the pennies using green stuff, probably not the cheapest option. An alternative would be a hot glue gun, or maybe blu tac coated with superglue. Another option that might work could be a simple tack superglued on. But I just worked with what I had at hand.
The final stage in the bases was a coat of pva glue and a sprinkle of small stones and sand. When they are stuck on they look like this. If I was making just a couple of feature trees I guess I could take more time here and sculpt on some roots - the paper clips would certainly lend themselves to this idea. But these are quick and easy trees, so no time for that. Again, you could be more elaborate at this stage and add all sorts of extra to your bases, depending on your table theme and time you want to spend. For me, these are fine and will be primed and painted in part 2.