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Making a bamboo forest

2022-08-22 by David

Today we're taking a closer look at the bamboo bases from the new Shrine Set, with a how-to guide on an easy way to create a thick bamboo forest for 28mm scale wargaming.



▲ This is a photo of the 60mm bamboo base included in the shrine set. As you can see, it's a simple textured circle, with a scattering of small rocks and broken shoots of bamboo. There's also a small hole in the underside for a magnet, in case you want to use that. These were printed at 0.2mm layers on an FDM printer, by the way.


The green bamboo trees are, of course, those bendy plastic ones you can buy in bulk online, and are not included in the print files.

▲ To make attaching those green plastic bamboo trees to the printed base easier, there are fourteen small 2mm holes scattered around the base, as you can just about see in this photo. They are the light-grey dots, with the sunshine behind the thin plastic of the holes. Those are the perfect size for the bamboo tree stalks, with just a small blob of glue.

▲ I bought these cheap plastic bamboo trees from Amazon, for about $10 for 100 trees. I think they're actually advertised as 1:75 scale trees, about 12cm tall, but they'll work fine for 28mm (1:56) scale or even tall 15mm scale bamboo forests. I bought two packs of these, and printed 14 of the bases.

▲ Okay, now it's time to look at some reference photos. This is a bamboo grove in Kyoto, I think. You'll notice that the leaves on bamboo trees are actually only really found near the top half of each tree. As the tree grows taller, the bottom part (without leaves) stretches higher and higher.


If you take a look at the plastic trees I bought above, you'll see that the leaves start near the bottom of each tree, so it's probably going to look better to trim some of the lower leaves off.


The other thing you'll notice is the mass of brown leaf litter on the forest floor. I'm going to try to create that effect, too!

▲ I started the painting process with a light brown spray undercoat, and then light grey painted messily onto each rock. You don't need to be neat here, because later steps will hide mistakes!

▲ Next I covered each base in a heavy black wash, to fall into the crevices of the base.

▲ Drybrushing was the final painting step, with a lighter brown for the earth, a light grey for the rocks, and a slightly different brown for the bamboo stalks. Be careful not to hit those stalks too hard, as they are fairly brittle at that size.

▲ Next I took my clippers, and snipped the bottom of each tree flat, so that it will fit the holes better. Then I grabbed my very old glue gun and dabbed a small blob of glue onto the end of each tree, before pushing it down into a hole. Start with the holes in the middle of the base, and stop adding trees whenever you're happy.


* Tip: I managed to find brown glue sticks for my hot glue gun (from the local 100yen store), which will look much better than blobs of white glue over each base.

▲ Here's a base with several stalks of bamboo trees inserted. See how the brown glue is almost completely hidden? It's well worth getting a few sticks of brown glue if you can find them!

▲ Next I decided to trim the bottom couple of inches (about 5cm) of leaves from each base. This is probably not totally realistic (half of the tree height might look more real), but I wanted to keep some foliage lower down, to help block line of sight and make it look thicker. As long as the leaves start above head-height on a 28mm model, I'm happy enough.


The base on the left has been trimmed to remove lower leaves, as compared to the trees on the right, which are the uncut version. Only a small difference, but it looks better to me.

▲ The battlemat I'll probably use with this bamboo forest most of the time is a mid/dark green, so I wanted to blend the edges of each base to the mat. I used this darker green static grass around the edges, stuck down with very watery PVA glue.

▲ When the glue had dried clear, each base looked pretty great. I'd happily use these on my battlefield.


HOWEVER, by this point I had already gone out and bought something to duplicate leaf litter on each base, so I might as well continue!

▲ I asked the wonderful group of people on the Facebook group Feudal Japanese Miniature Wargaming for suggestions on what might work at 28mm scale for bamboo leaf litter. First I tried a local tea shop for a bag of tea leaves in a suitable brown colour, but didn't find any good matches there. Rosemary leaves didn't have the right colour for me, but I was lucky enough to find cumin seeds in my local supermarket, which were a pretty good match in colour, size and shape. Thanks, Jim Jackaman, for the suggestion! Plus my bases had a lovely spicy smell for a couple of days!!


So I brushed some more watery PVA glue onto the centre of each base, amongst the trees, and sprinkled on the cumin seeds.




▲ This was the final result! With the bamboo leaves starting above head-height, each base is thick enough to visually look like a forest, and the floor has lots of interesting obstacles and detritus.


As a group they look great, but you'll have to wait a few more days until I can share proper photos of the completed shrine-in-a-bamboo-forest setting....


Tags: samurai  painting 


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