The Comm Guild Maelstrom's Edge

Terrain Tutorial: Cheap Trees from Pine Cones!

Posted on Friday Oct 14, 2022 at 05:00pm in Tutorials

- by Iain Wilson

A good collection of trees is handy for fleshing out your battlefields, but commercially-made trees made specifically for scale modeling can be expensive. I've shared a few different ideas in the past for making your own foliage, including using aquarium plants, expanding foam, and Christmas baubles covered in hot glue.

Over the years, one of the more common budget tree ideas I've come across is to use pine cones painted green. They have the advantage of being vaguely tree-shaped and inexpensive if you have pine trees nearby, but tend to wind up just looking like pine cones painted green. I thought I would see if I could come up with an easy and cheap way of improving on this idea a little, with this result:

To get started, I collected a bunch of pine cones in assorted sizes, preferably as close to fully opened up as possible.

I took an old, large paintbrush and painted the outside of each pine cone with a generous layer of PVA glue.

Then while the glue was still nice and wet, I dipped the cones in a tub of green flock, rolling them around to get the flock covering all of the glued areas.

I don't normally use sawdust flock for modeling, as for its primary use (for grassed areas) I don't like how it looks, although I have used a finer flock in the past for making hedges. But I had a big tub of this stuff that someone gave to me years ago, and this seemed like a good use for it.

The flocked pine cones:

To finish up, I gave the trees a light spray from above using Army Painter Army Green. This dulled down the bright green of the flock and gave it some depth. I then used hot glue to attach the trees to some circular plywood bases. At this point, they can be put on the table as single trees, placed on top of a shaped terrain piece to make a forest base, or fitted to a textured base board. For the latter, you can glue the trees directly to the base board instead of using the circles, or texture around the circles so that the trees are removable, making for easier storage or the ability to remove trees when they are in the way for model movement.

The end result, to be honest, still looks somewhat like pine cones painted green, although the illusion works a little better from above at normal playing height. For a little more work, you can also prune away the pieces from the base of the pine cone to create a trunk protruding from the bottom, like this:

Or, to get even further away from the pine cone look, you can use a slightly more liberal coat of glue and cover the whole thing in landscaping foliage, like this:

Once you have your forest of pine-scented doom, head on over to the Maelstrom's Edge webstore here, to pick up an army to run around in it!

What are you working on? We would love to see your models and terrain in the Comm Guild Facebook group!

For other building ideas, modeling tutorials, army spotlights and conversion walkthroughs, check out the Hobby section of the Maelstrom's Edge website here. And while you're there, grab a copy of the Maelstrom's Edge V2 Beta rules!

Find the Maelstrom's Edge rules and the full range of models at

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