Modeling Trees: Part One – Broadleaf Trees
modtreesWithin the world of model railroading it seems that “Modeling Trees: part One: Broadleaf Trees” by Gordon Gavett is the “Holy Grail” for those interested in such things. The book is unfortunately out of print. A review on states – “This has to be the most authorative book I’ve seen on the subject of scale modelling trees. The author takes you through the procedures for creating the scale model, the techniques, materials and tools. He then sets out a series of worked examples, for instance, silver birch, weeping willow, oak. While the book is aimed at railway modellers I don’t think it matters whether you are modelling dioramas for tanks, or building wargames terrain, if you want to create authentic looking trees then this book is the one to get. There are no easy methods though, as he explains in the book to get the right effect it takes practice and time. Some of the examples in there have taken 15 to 30 hours to do! But it is worth it – the end result is incredibly life like. He also touches on other things like creating ivy going up a tree, but I particularly like his bird nests! Would I recommend it – well I am just going to buy volume 2!!

With the book out of print, the copies you CAN get seem to have been priced by their weight in precious metals. UK has a couple but the cheapest one is £19.99 – about $33 – and shipping hasn’t even been considered yet. Darn it.

grove den – member of posted in the Scenery forum “How to Make Trees and Shrubs“. Excellent trees – I believe that his method approximates the procedure used in the book.
My Pin Oak
PinOakI made a ‘quick-n-dirty’ sketch of the ‘layout’ of the Pin Oak that sits in front of my house. I’ve played a bit with making trees from twisted wire but I got to thinking that I needed to get a better ‘handle’ on the tree structure. My Pin Oak then via the sketch: Dividing the three into thirds and using “TD” as “Trunk Diameter” of the lower section – the upper trunk is about 1/2 the diameter of the middle section (1/4TD) and that middle section again about 1/2 the diam of the lower section (1/2TD). The root bulge is approximately twice the Trunk Dia (2TD). The limbs extend out about 1/3 tree height at the top of that first section (say 1/3 up then) and are contained in an arch from that point to the top of the tree. The limbs “generally” extend radially from the tree as shown with the red arrows – I say generally since there are limbs that ‘do their own thing’ .. but this overall should help provide a guide. Each section is approximately six times the tree diameter in height .. so let’s say each section is ~6TD and the whole tree is therefore ~18TD.
PinOakPhotoSnapped a pic of the tree. The blue lines track the limbs of the tree. Together with the sketch above this hopefully will provide a guide for making a scale copy.
Numbers and stuff
Ok. Using the above data let’s design a tree.

  • Tree Height: 9 in.With tree height 18TD – then the tree dia is 1/18 of that 9 inches – or TD=0.5 inches.
  • TD=0.5 inches (lower section)
  • 1/2TD=0.25 inches (center section)
  • 1/4TD=0.124 inches (upper section)
  • Section height = 1/3 tree height or 3 inches.
  • Limb extension also 1/3 tree height
  • Root bulge = 2TD or 1 inch.
  • Attempt One – As I summerize in the text this tree came ok. Good nuff .. for now .. but I can see where it needs improving. There are too few limbs spaced too much on one plane and need to branch more. The static grass worked to a point but is too thick. There is too much clumping of the leaves – in great part to the ‘clumping’ of the branches.
  • Attempt Two – Here I am trying to make individual limbs – attempting to get more branching. The idea is to finish them then combine them into a tree. Hopefully this will allow me to better adding static grass or something similar to simulate small branchlets and leaves.

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