Sunday, January 19, 2014

How to: Easy and Realistic Ferns

We are glad to announce another illustrated tutorial for creating nice ferns created for Wargame News and Terrain by the very talented and seasoned wargamer and scratchbuilder Alan Martin. I found some plastic ferns in a Garden centre here in the UK some time ago. They are almost certainly made in China and shipped all over, so I hope you would be able to find them, or something like them, wherever you are. The label attached says that they are ‘Fern Feather Bush’ and a bar code on the back reads 5 037954 813672. Don’t know if those will help find it or not. The bunch cost £3.95 at the time, but it gets you a lot of material.

The picture above shows the bunch – there is a 24 inch steel rule in the background to give some idea of scale, and the picture below shows 2 of the 12 fronds that come in the bunch. From the tip to the lowest frond on the stem the length varies from 12 to 17 inches.

Using a craft knife cut the fronds away from the stem at the point they join. The photo above shows a few detached frondlets – I then cut a few of the small frondlets on each, near the base, to create a short stem, as you can see in the picture.

At this point I’ll mention that in each bunch there are a couple of slim fronds that have been covered in a brown static flock. These have wire through the stems – they come rolled up at the top to represent the unfurling new fronds that grow from the centre of a fern. The picture below shows one – I’ll say how I use these a bit later.

Using the hot glue gun, weld the fronds, largest round the outside, in a circle on a base. Only 4-6 fronds are needed to give a good impression of a fern. The very smallest cuttings in the above can be arranged in sets of 3 to create the impression of small plants coming through. Photos below show the results. In these, I have chosen to put them on a small scrap of sandpaper – it makes handling them a bit easier and is easily attached to a larger base using pva when you decide where you want to put it. You can just see where I have used a small offcut from the brown-flocked frond to give the impression of new growth coming through.

Below you can see them fixed in place against the buttress root of a large tree.

That particular fern is around 40mm high. If you want to make them for a European setting then use the smaller fronds. You can also use these techniques to make nice fern trees of which you can find a tutorial here. Tutorial by Alan Martin.

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