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Tree Stumps
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7 March 2000converted to new format
15 November 1999page first published

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Readers are always telling me how "hard" it is to add terrain to their gaming table. Well, this article shows you a technique that is so simple that anyone can take advantage of it. Your kid brother can do this...

tree stumps

This time we've got a pack of tree stumps, tan-colored resin pieces about 30mm high, made by Tactical Conflict Systems up in New England (see our Showcase article for more details).

Our first step was to take a heavy-bladed hobby knife - something that wouldn't snap off - and carefully trim the excess resin from around the tree bottoms. For the most part this was a piece of cake, but one of our sample trees had some thick parts that took a bit of work to remove. In the process of working on that tree, we learned to be careful how we used the knife - as we snapped off the ends of two of the roots! (The trunks are sturdy, but the roots will break off if handled roughly.)

We wanted a dark, mildewed look for these tree stumps - and that meant using a black primer, as colors painted over a black basecoat tend to be darker and more subdued. So we sprayed the stumps black, top and bottom.

The detailing on these stumps was rather subtle, so I decided to not do my usual "base color coat / darker wash / lighter drybrush" technique. Instead, I went directly for a final drybrushing. This meant that the final stump would be in just two colors - wood and black - but I thought that worked well for old, gnarled trunks.

one stump

So I took a medium wide brush, loaded it with tan paint, then stroked most of the paint off onto a paper towel until I could barely see the brush leaving any stain on the paper, and then I "drybrushed" the stumps. By drawing the brush across the grain, I could leave the paint on the raised surfaces without coloring in the "black" crevices. I wanted the bottoms to shade to black, so I did less drybrushing there.

To finish the project off, I sprayed the stumps with a clear sealer to protect the paint from flaking or getting knocked off.

aerial view of four stumps

That's it! Spray-paint them black, and drybrush them brown. Can you ask for an easier gaming project?