Add in the finer details...add Dead Branches
Definition: Dead Branches are the little "twigs" added to the tree trunk after the Green Branches are in place. When used without Green Foliage, they produce dead "snag" trees.
REAL: Snag Tree on the Elk River, south Oregon Coast.
MODEL: 11" Old Growth fir tree with dead branches added (included in kits) and fine scenic "moss".
Second Growth. Note many dead branches along the lower portion of the trunks preceding the green foliage above.
Tall Old Growth Cedar. Note the lower portion of the trunk has fewer and smaller dead branches compared to above
Western fir trees generally have plenty of dead branches on them, especially nearer the base of the tree. This is generally so, unless you are modeling strictly very large Old Growth (300+ year old) trees, where I have observed that the dead branches don't begin until about 1/2 way up the tree).
How do you add a tiny detail like this? Scroll down and check out the Dead Branches how-to video!
All dead branches natural material is sagebrush from an exceptionally arid environment. After collection, it is darkened with boiling temp water based dyes and India ink. It is then oven-dried at 250-F for a minimum of 3-4 hours.
(Without the dyes, this natural material appears almost white on the layout.) The boiling helps to remove the dust, dirt, etc.
The “artistically interesting” portions of the brush are specifically targeted. We strive to identify and retain those parts having “realistic qualities” and “interesting features”, clipping by hand. Some material is obtained by using our wooden hopper machine (video below).
Included are some larger portions, as well as shorter material. The larger items are better for complex, full dead branches, while the shorter pieces are for model smaller, lower dead branch protrusions e.g. “broken branches”, often seen nearer to the tree base.
It is the quality of the material from an artistic standpoint which makes this product special. (This is not a just a random collection of twigs from outdoors!)
If used to create “forest floor debris”, the StumpStuff product will extend the coverage area considerably.
You get a one-quart bag, with branches ranging from 1 to 4 inches, with many between 1 and 2 inches length. This size works well for adding dead branches for many trees (at least 20, probably many more than that), for tree sizes 7 to 13 inches. For larger trees, try our Big Dead Branches.
If larger quantities are needed, just email Roger at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here's a video about how I add the Dead Branches. In the video, I use a hot plate coupled with a ventilation duct. But this can also be done using a Hot Glue Gun, as that is how I started out with using hot glue to do this instead of drilling holes & gluing them in place.
Please note, I am constantly reviewing and changing my own formulas and methods for making trees, including the process of adding dead branches. As such, I have moved on from hot glue. I now gather tree pitch, which I warm at a low temperature. In this state, it becomes sticky, acting as a tackifier. Once in place, I coat every interface with a mixture of Famowood, Matte Medium, and Chalk Paint. I use a hot plate on a low heat setting with good ventilation.
Big Dead Branches
Big Dead Branches are an option for adding heavier detail such as small logs and large fallen limbs, larger woody debris, riverbank log jam detail, and more.
New Item! Forest Floor
This latest item, Forest Floor, is a great material for modeling the forest detritus. Quoting Wikipedia, "The forest floor, also called detritus, duff and the O horizon, is one of the most distinctive features of a forest ecosystem. It mainly consists of shed vegetative parts, such as leaves, branches, bark, and stems, existing in various stages of decomposition above the soil surface." I'm not sure what Duff and the O horizon is! But I use this material on all my dioramas and my HO layout whenever I'm getting ready to plant trees. Right now, this is only available in limited quantities.
Where to use them:
Forest Floor is yet even smaller dead branch detail. The real forest floor is littered with thousands of fragments of fallen limbs. Sometimes animals knock them off the trees as they are passing through (such as elk). Stormy winds do plenty of work too. You'll find these small limbs on the sides of the right of way on branch lines too.