Since I published the book Painting Wargames Tanks many people have asked me about how to do the tree branches or foliage I added to some 15mm tanks. Therefore, I have finally decided to write a tutorial about it. I already shared some hints in the issue of The Weathering Magazine about Kursk, but I will explain everything more in detail here.
During the WWII many tank crews -specially Germans- decided to conceal a little bit better their tanks and other vehicles by adding tree branches and other vegetation. We can easily recreate this in our tiny models to add a little bit of variation and make our tanks more interesting. But to do it properly we need to respect the scale: we need tiny tree branches for our tiny models.
One classical tool or resource use by modellers to create model trees is a natural plant: teloxys aristata, the so-called sea moss and some times as sea foam. You can easily find it on Ebay and in some scale model shops. This is a small plants with multiple branches, which simulates very nicely a tiny tree structure. It is sold already dry. You can also buy seeds and try to grow it (I did, but failed).
In addition, we need something to simulate the tree leaves. We can buy some scale leaves from any scale model shop. There is a huge variety in shape, color, size and even material. Everything goes as long as it fits with what you want to simulate. Check Woodland scenics. In my case, I used small leaves of two different colors that I bought many years ago in an online shop, but unfortunately they do not have them anymore. Otherwise, a cheaper option is to use oregano or parsley leaves -or any other small leaves- and crush them with a coffee grinder.
For the next step we only need to cut small pieces of sea moss and then glue the leaves on it using PVA glue. I usually use a brush to put a little bit of PVA all around the small branches, and then I “sprinkle” the leaves. You can create a bunch of them and then use only the better ones. Note that you can easily paint the sea moss if you wish using for example acrylic paints and an airbrush. I normally use it as such.
Once it is dry, we can easily fix the branches with more PVA on the our tank. The branches are fragile and you should transport and move the vehicle carefully.
We can also use this method to directly create a tree (as it has been classically done), as you can see below. For this purpose it is important to use a piece of sea moss with a thick stem, which will represent the trunk. We do not need to paint it, but as I said, we can easily do it using acrylic paints.