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Forest Floor Step by Step

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Introduction
Making a base for a model might seem like a daunting task filled with potential pitfalls that take ages to master. At least that is how it seemed to me before I got the nerve to finally try it.

The method I use is somewhat loosely based on a technique I saw used by Richard Windrow to which I gave my own little twists.

I will start with a list of the items I used for this simple forest floor:

• A cellulose based modelling powder e.g. celluclay
• Acrylic paint
• White glue
• Powdered crack filler
• Sand

the build
I started by forming the basic shape for the base using Styrofoam. At this stage you make all the different levels, slopes, roads or as in this case riverbed.

I now make the soil mixture. This is made up out of modelling powder, sand, filler, paint, white glue and water. The resulting “mess” should be a thick paste that will hold its shape.

Before applying the soil mixture to the base I first cover it with a layer of white glue. This will ensure that the soil mixture will bond to the base and won’t separate later on when it dries.

With a spatula the soil mixture is smeared onto the base in a thin coat. It is important not to apply a thick layer as this will take a long time to dry and you run the risk of cracks appearing during drying.

Using a sponge I gave some more texture to the surface of the soil mixture as well as eliminating the marks left by the spatula.

With the base covered the fun part could start, building up the layers of the forest floor. For the different layers that make up the forest floor I use a mix of different items. Herbs, seeds, ground scatter and paper leaves.

Every layer is applied thinly and in a random pattern. It is important not to try and cover everything in one go. Because you are going to slowly build up the layers you will eventually cover everything.

First a layer of thinned white glue is applied before adding the first layer of ground scatter. I use two different colours for more variation.

Next the different herbs were scattered. Depending on the result you are going for you can different types of herbs. For this base the herbs used were parsley, basil and mint.

With all the different layers in place I applied a layer of thinned white glue to keep everything in place and the previous steps were done again. For this I used a spray bottle that creates a fine mist so there is an even covering.

With all the different layers in place I applied a layer of thinned white glue to keep everything in place and the previous steps were done again. For this I used a spray bottle that creates a fine mist so there is an even covering.

For some more texture some twigs and tufts of grass were added.

Some of the soil mixture was thinned and spread over the riverbed to smooth it out and make sure the stones would stay in place. Also the trees, which I made earlier (I always wanted to say that) were placed on the base.

As you can tell by the photos I chose to remove the red leaves I used as I felt they looked out of place. This is one of the advantages of building up the forest floor in one go instead of letting every layer dry between application. You can easily alter things, add and/or remove items At this stage I set the base aside to let it fully dry. As you can tell some cracks did appear after it had dried. I always keep some of the soil mixture in a container to stop it from drying out so I can make little repairs. The small cracks are easily dealt with by smearing some of the soil mixture on with a finger.

To make the water I used woodland scenics E-Z Water. Bothe sides of the riverbed were sealed off with some plastic card before pouring the E-Z Water. The problem I found with E-Z Water is that the edges curl in.

I used a piece of flat sheet metal attached to a soldering iron to smooth out the edges of the E-Z Water. Be careful if you attempt this as it can cause the E-Z Water to discolor.

To add the waves to the water I used artists’ medium gloss acrylic gel. This can be brushed on and the waves formed by tapping the gel with a brush. I added a small drop of white paint to some of the gel and applied that to where the water meets the embankment.

conclusion
And that is all I did to make this little base. It is an easy do to method that gives good results. Give it a try!
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About the Author

About janwillem (janwillem)
FROM: GRONINGEN, NETHERLANDS

Hi, my name is Jan-Willem, I life in the Nederland’s and I work for social securaty in the Netherlands. My interests are 1/35 middel eastern AFV as there is a nice mix of soviet en werstern armour but realy love IDF armor


Comments

Thank you guys @JPTRR A greater compliment you couldn't have given me. Cheers, JW
AUG 22, 2013 - 05:08 AM
Great article with nice photos! Question: When spraying with diluted white glue, how do you prevent the scene from not looking all wet, soppy, and damp? The thing with wetting dry groundwork is that the colors change and the water may turn all dryness into mush. This is a problem I've experienced when spraying diluted white glue to hold all the leaves onto the grass. The flipside is NOT spraying white glue runs the risk of the leaves blowing away with the slightest breeze because no glue holds them down. Thanks for the feedback.
AUG 22, 2013 - 10:08 AM
This is very helpful and awesome. I too wonder how did you do the trees?
AUG 22, 2013 - 06:15 PM
@ GregCloseCombat and Blackstoat The tree are just the classic Seafoam trees with just an application of a special putty for the bark. The leaves are parsley and the tops given a bit more green colour by airbrushing them with some bright green. Nothing really special but I'll see if I can whip up a small how-to. @ Trisaw I make a mix of 1 part white glue to 4 parts water. The key is to use a spray bottle that creates a mist and not a stream (I use a hair product spray bottle I confiscated from my wife). Just a misting between each layer should be enough to hold the scatter material down you should never apply so much that you start to see large droplets form or puddles collect. If that does happen you can remove some of the excess with a piece of tissue paper. If at the end of forming your forest floor you find you still have some lose material you can always apply some additional glue mix to those areas.
AUG 22, 2013 - 08:05 PM
Hi Jan, well done! It looks very realistic. Hope you wil write a small how-to for building the tree's. I'am interessted in it.
AUG 25, 2013 - 11:05 PM
He Guys, As soon as I find the time to do it I'll do one on making the trees.
AUG 29, 2013 - 10:00 PM
Jan, is the powder ,plaster of paris or a sheetrock spackle?
NOV 15, 2014 - 05:30 AM
He Belg1960, It is more like sheetrock spackle (it is soled here in the Netherlands as large hole filler). it has a grainy texture that it keeps after drying. Cheers, JW
NOV 15, 2014 - 11:30 PM
Nice work Jan, Al
NOV 16, 2014 - 01:02 AM
I use E-Z water in my dioramas. I think if you seal the ends of riverbeds or whatever with DAP kitchen and bath sealer, let it dry, then pour your E-Z water it will solve the curling problem you encounter using plastic card. once the E-Z water hardens, simply strip the DAP borders off your diorama!
JUN 08, 2017 - 03:25 AM