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The maple tree


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#1 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:28 AM

Ok, I'm taking a break from painting to practice some sculpting. I thought this might be fun. Here's how to make a wire-framed tree. Don't worry- trees are very forgiving.
For this project, I used:
Posted ImageThe tool at the bottom is just a standard ceramics pin tool. The wire is 24 gauge craft wire.

The first step is to make the wire armature. .Posted Image
I started with a loop of wire about 7 inches long, folded it in half and then twisted it while holding it with the clamp.
Posted ImagePosted Image
Do this until you have 4 or 5 loopies. This is the point where you can decide what the mood of your tree will be. A maple is a stand-up straightforward tree, so no fancy bending needed. (this will make sense, soon, I promise) For this tree I started with 4 loopies and realized I needed a 5th.

Posted ImageNext, I twisted 2 loopies together in the middle. The top will be branches, the bottom roots. More soon...
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#2 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:33 AM

ok, so here's progress on the twisting:
Posted ImageThis is 3 loopies twisted together. The next 2 images are 4 then 5 loopies.
Posted ImagePosted ImageNow it looks like a tree!
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#3 Marsya

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:44 AM

I always wanted to make my own trees for my terrain. I will be watching this, so far the wire looks good can't wait to see it progress.

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#4 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 08:47 AM

Now for the fun part! Adding 2 part epoxy. I used milliput without any vaseline, at room temperature.
Posted Image My solution to the sticking problem is patience and a rolling/squashing motion. Squash the stuff on and roll it into the wire.
Posted Image Until it's mostly covered- I'll add more milliput later to touch up.
next the branches- I made little coils of milliput and twisted them onto the tree branches like so:
Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image
Posted Image
Then I just tapped/squashed the milliput into the wire. This is the most frustrating part. Patience and gentle squashing. It helped to squash a bit. work on another area, then come back to a branch and squash some more. Plus, squashing is therapeutic.
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#5 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:03 AM

ok, now for more in progress images:
Posted ImagePosted Image
That 2nd picture is the best way to explain the roll-squash. See how the epoxy rope is separated when it is first placed, then as I squash, the branch will be fully covered.
Posted Image
No matter how careful I am with the epoxy, it will always start to peel off the end. If that happens just coil it back on to the wire and squash a bit more.
Posted Imagenow for the roots. Add a bit of epoxy and blend it in. I do this with my fingers and a pin tool.
Posted ImageAgain with the rolling! Roll the tool along the epoxy to smooth it.
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#6 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:24 AM

The pin tool is my favorite because it is versatile. I use it to place bits of epoxy in hard to reach areas, the use it to blend/attach, like so:
Posted ImagePosted Image
Ok, I'll still do a bit more blending of the branches at the top.
Then I can start to add detail to the tree itself- give it bark. Again.. with my trusty pin tool!
Posted ImagePosted ImageThis is the fun part.
Remember, trees are forgiving, right? Any flaw or imperfection in the sculpture can be passed off as tree "character." I spent a lot of time sketching trees, so I got used to seeing which parts of the tree have the deepest grooves in the bark. My best advice to anyone making trees- pick the type of tree you want to copy and either go look at it, google image it, etc. Generally speaking, the joints between and under branches, the roots, and areas near a knot are going to need the deepest grooving. Just push in and drag with the pin tool. Do some vertical curvy stripes, crosshatching, etc. Whatever looks good. No matter what- it's going to be painted later anyway!
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#7 Adrift

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:43 AM

This is a phenomenal tutorial!

#8 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:53 AM

The "finished" tree, and the primed version:
Posted ImagePosted Image
I left a bit of raw wire at the top of each branch because I like how it tapers. You could trim your branches back to the edge of epoxy if you wanted. Then I painted the tree, but forgot to take picture of it before I started putting on the birch seed leaves ( see: http://www.reapermini.com/TheCraft/24, thanks Daniel Joyce!!) I painted it with reaper MSP tanned skin, washed with walnut brown, highlighted with intense brown and added carnage red to the branch tips and some areas of the bark (it's a red maple tree, which has red branch tips). Then washed the roots and a few branch junctions with reaper pro blue-black. The leaves I made using vallejo carmine red.
Posted ImageSorry about the glare here.
I used the superglue and my tweezers to place the leaves. It's easiest to start with the tree upside down balanced on it's branches, because when (not if) the leaves slip, they look more natural pointed up towards the branches. This tree is inspired by maples just after their peak, which drop their upper leaves first, Most of the leaves with therefore be clusted at the lower branches near the trunk split. Best to have a sacrificial set of tweezers you don't mind getting glue and bits of leaves stuck to...
Posted ImagePosted Image
The secret to the leaves at the bottom is actually a fortuitous mistake- some of my glue got into the leaf pile, stuck my leaves together, which I then glued on as a bunch. Hooray!
Posted Image
After attaching all the leaves I wanted, I pained/highlighted the leaves with some dragon red, light orange and sand yellow, just to give variety, then sprayed the whole thing in testors dullcote
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#9 Corporea

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 09:57 AM

eh voila! tree!

Posted Image
Posted Image
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#10 Goblyn

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 01:13 PM

Nice :blush:

#11 Caffiene

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Posted 28 October 2012 - 04:51 PM

Great tutorial! And great end result, too.

One thought that occurred to me is wondering whether taking some sandpaper to the wire at the start to rough it up a little might make for an easier time of getting the putty to stick.

#12 Adrift

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 01:46 AM

According to something I saw from DKS, you should heat your armature before applying the putty to help make it stick.

#13 psyberwolfe1

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 03:02 PM

Pictures all gone. :down:

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#14 Corporea

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Posted 29 October 2012 - 04:29 PM

argh! stupid album creation idea-fixing....
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#15 Corporea

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Posted 31 October 2012 - 02:22 PM

Great tutorial! And great end result, too.

One thought that occurred to me is wondering whether taking some sandpaper to the wire at the start to rough it up a little might make for an easier time of getting the putty to stick.

it might- hadn't thought of that. I think I'll do a tree series- try different seasons, effects, etc. I also want to try the wire heating, but really, it's wasn't too bad getting it to stick! ::):
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