Another tough week… and a Toyvian Tree Tutorial…

So, another challenging week where I did not finish as much as I had hoped I would. Too many distractions, it was difficult to concentrate. However, it is not all doom and gloom. I managed to finish a couple of things that have been lingering…

First up I think we finally got the Citadel trees how we want them. Several small details tweaked, and of course my poor photography fails to properly illustrate how they look in person.

In addition to working on the moderately expensive Citadel trees I also spent entirely too much time trying to make some “budget” toy trees look like they could fit our table.

They are as matt as I would like, despite several coats of brush on Vallejo acrylic matt clear coat. But they are not as glossy in person as they look in the photos.

These three trees are called Toyvian trees on, bought for 3 Euros each, with free postage. They also go by Stobor and Wenini trees depending on where you look. The feedback on them warned of them being packaged badly and arriving flat. I took the risk… as you can see in the first photo below, they arrived flat.

I soaked them in hot (almost boiling) water and reshaped them. The trunks got soft fast, so be careful if you try it, and reshaped well. The branches/leaves… not so much.

As you can see I then weighted them with metal shavings enclosed in modeling putty. Do not worry, I painted the putty brown… I just forgot to take a photo of that.

In the last photo you can see I shaved the edges of the join where the leaves/branches fit onto the bigger branches then painted that area brown. Originally I had painted it green an not shaved the edges, but it did not look quite right. I found this looked better to my eyes.

EDIT: For a bit more detail on how I painted the Toyvian trees…

First I used a Vallejo green brush on primer for the trunk and branches/leaves. Then I painted the trunk a medium brown (Army Painter Oak or Dirt Spatter Brown) and the branches/leaves Army Painter Commando Green. I then picked out the knots on the trunk in Army Painter Skeleton Bone. I also used random greens on various individual leaves to break up the uniformity, lighter colors gave me better results than darker colors. Then knots on the trunk then got an Army Painter Light Tone Wash (Sepia) while the rest of the trunk got an Army Painter Strong Tone Wash (Dark Brown) and the branches/leaves got an Army Painter Green Tone Wash. Then I dry bushed the branches/leaves with various light greens. I then painted the branches medium brown. And then gave the branches/leaves an Army Painter Military Shade Wash (Green-Brown) followed by a matt clear coat.

I hope that makes sense.

It would seem I am hardly the first to think of mixing these Toyvian and Schleich trees with Dwarven Forge. NiandoBG, a name I recognize from the Dwarven Forge forums has some cool videos on YouTube with Dwarven Forge builds

I also worked on some more Dwarven Forge Dreadhollow Forest pieces. My wife is a bit concerned about the time I am spending on what are supposed to be “plug and play” factory painted pieces but for what they cost I want them to be “just right”…. or at least as close to that as I can make them. It is still considerably less time than if I had to paint them from scratch.

Here is a comparison shot between the one I just finished and one from the factory (with the new 2020 paint scheme). The photo was taken outside to make the best use of natural lighting. Oddly my photo makes the factory piece look better than it does in person. The camera (an IPad) seems to autoadjust the colors to bring out differences in the greens from the factory to create a better contrast compared to what the naked eyes of me and my wife see… and it reduces the gloss of the factory piece, which I reduced on my modified piece with brush on Vallejo acrylic matt clear coat.

The next comparison shot is the same two, inside on our gaming table.

And here you can see it with the Dwarven Forge forest terrain trays…

My wife thinks that my painting makes it look a little to specifically autumn whereas the factory paintwork looks more multiseasonal to her. I do not necessarily agree although I am worried that it is a bit too busy. Seems to me you find fallen leaves lasting much longer than just the autumn months. Again the camera seems to exaggerate the contrast compared to our naked eyes when looking at them in person.

The join lines between tiles also look different in person compared to photos in our opinion. On the table they are not so glaringly obvious. I wonder if that is the contrast at play again?

In addition to this, our mate Tom of Messages in the Darkness…

….. has tempted us down a dark path…. by giving us a very good deal on some Dwarven Forge dungeon pieces!

Ah, how our backlog of painting work has grown! My wife has started chipping away at it with painting up some of the unpainted pieces to match the castle pieces we previously got from Tom.

You can see a couple of Tom’s painted pieces on the left, in the middle pieces painted by my wife and on the right the castle piece we are using as a template. We are going for a bluish grey and adding random tan blocks to the grey ones. We are a bit worried that they will not match any factory painted dungeon pieces we get in the future but I guess we will cross the chasm when we get to it.

I think we have well and truly been bitten by the Dwarven Forge bug. Looking at the information we are getting about Dungeons and Lasers 2 and 3 from Archon Studios I am increasingly favoring the DF designs. It is an expensive addiction to feed though!

So expensive that we are cancelling our Stellaris/Dropfleet/Full Thrust spaceship combat project. All of our various space bits will be heading for eBay in due course. Feel free to get in touch if you are interested in getting some.

Of particular interest to some might be our Ether Drake, Automated Dreadnought and Dimensional Horror that we got in the TT Combat Stellaris Kickstarter. They are resin and BIG because they are the 2 UP versions.

Why are we doing this? For me it is about creating a specific artistic look, building an image I have in my head. Shaping a fictional world where we will generate a narrative through writing, photos and gameplay. Our artwork may not may not be very good technically but it expresses our shared vision of this world we are creating, inspired by so many different influences but in the end uniquely ours.

And doing that, with what we want to use, does not come cheap. So sacrifices must be made. We only have so much time to build, paint and play anyway, so we have to focus on what projects are most important to us.

So what are your thoughts on this? Questions, feedback, advice and suggestions are most welcome! Feel free to leave a comment, the time you spend here is very much appreciated and we care what you think.


  1. Must of been a tree week. A craft store put their trees for dioramas on clearance so I bought twelve that I had to put on fender washers so they wouldn’t fall over looking crosseyed at them, and then putting tuffs, sticks and rocks on the bases. I can see why you went towards hard plastic trees, getting tired of using pva on mine to keep the flock on mine.
    Your trees are coming along nice, they work well with your DF pieces. The GW one looks especially nice now.
    I’m the wrong one to ask if you are ever done with touching up terrain pieces, I always seem to be taking up a piece previously “done” and adding another touch of paint ( either dry brushed or stippled on) or adding another piece of ground clutter. I like how you are picking out the leaves on the forest pieces, one suggestion I might make is to tone some down using a more earth color to represent leaves that have been on the ground longer, maybe just a drop of gw earthshade would work also?
    Doing random blocks has always been hard for me, I always seem to make a pattern when I put several pieces of random pieces together.
    Movie watching catchup – watched Outside the Wire and Mosul, enjoyed them both, maybe Mosul a bit better. Wish Netflix movies would tone down their body counts though.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. At first it felt very strange transitioning to hard plastic leaves rather than flock but I am getting used to it now and appreciate avoiding the hassle that comes with masses of flocked trees. The Citadel trees are still fragile compared to the Toyvania and Dwarven Forge trees though. Funny that you mention washers, I forgot to say I added washers into the Trunk bases of the Citadel trees as a much easier method than the metal shavings I put into the Toyvania trees.

    You think the fallen leaves are still too bright? I used a few different Army Painter washes on them already. Hmm. I wonder if the camera is exaggerating the contrast on that as well,

    Yeah, getting a random pattern that is really random but still somehow naturally balanced looking is difficult.

    I saw the trailer for Mosul and thought it looked interesting but have not around to watching it yet. It certainly looked like it was from a different perspective than I am used to.

    Directors and producers seem to have forgotten that sometimes less is more.


    • I think it’s a combination of lighting and camera which makes the leaves stand out more. If they look good in person I wouldn’t worry about it. I’ve found that taking pictures outside vs where I paint and play adds a different look to the figures that I have to get use to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • We will have to wait and see how all the pieces look together on the table, as it develops. It is easier to put another quick wash on them then it is to lighten them back up.


    • When doing random stones, it sometimes helps to have a nice suitable die handy to just roll and impose some randomness on the process. It can be hard at first, if you are following a template to deviate from the “factory random” but it will help the over look in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve been doing a whole mess of simple tower walls—getting the curved pieces I need for houses for the people in my world who build round houses—and I just set a stopwatch app going on my phone to generate my next random number for where the next tan brick goes… 😄

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, the main value of the stopwatch numbers just ticking along is that I only need to glance and don’t need to set down my brush. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Following your link from the DF forum s. I think the retouching looks great and I agree with your wife that it immediately reminded me of early fall. The fallen leaves still have the fresh non-green chlorophyll present. I was hoping to see how you had done the matching tree leaves. It reminded me of Frodo in the Woody End as he first started his journey.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Citadel trees absolutely looking good. The painted fallen leaves do stand out a bit in your pictures; I am guessing they are not as bad in person.

    I love DF dungeon and cavern stuff. I went in on the Dungeons and Lasers, but only for the spaceship and Alien-inspired terrain, not the dungeon stuff. Even in D&L2 – I ordered the exact thing I did on D&L1, though I’ll paint them a bit different so they are different sections of the same ship/station/whatever. The D&L dungeon is OK (and far more affordable than DF) but a bit cartoony.

    I am impressed by your commitment to your shared vision. I REALLY want to see you guys start filling it out, start creating your worlds. Any tentative date for starting your Gothpolean campaign?

    Liked by 2 people

    • If we were not committed to Battle Systems terrain for our Core Space project Inthink we would be using D&L sci-fi for it.

      I agree with you on the slightly cartoony vibe of D&L fantasy.

      No timeline yet, we have so much to paint first as well as getting familiar with the various rules we want to use. We also want to fit into our far too tight schedule our continuing Middle Earth Strategy Battle Game Battle Companies campaign as well as start a Core Space campaign… although Core Space may become a solo project and remain delayed until the expansion Kickstarter CS: First Born pledge arrives.

      Thanks again for your continually kind and supportive comments!


  5. I personally have not caught the Dwarven Forge bug. Personally too expensive for my taste. I do appreciate the more limited amount of work required to get on the table but I still prefer my 3d printed dungeon tiles. Still haven’t found a set I’m absolutely in love with for outdoor spaces though. I have several in the queue to play with. Are you converting completely to Dwarven Forge?

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would have been too expensive for us to start if it has not been for our mate Tom giving us a great price on pieces he did not want. But once we started we rapidly fell in love with the durability of the material as well as the charm of the sculpts.

      Getting into the Wildlands Kickstarter was in part caused by JFA of Tabletop Troubadour saying that he would not be doing the trees for Hagglethorn Hollow… and my wife was keen for cool trees after seeing the original Hagglethorn Hollow video.

      I would not say we are going solely for DF pieces but we are going to try to get what we can afford. Everything is a budgeting balance act.

      We do not plan on getting into 3D printing any time soon though.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I am excited about Hagglethorn Hollow as well. They apparently did partner with one of my favorite sculpting companies to make it available for me to print.

        But I 100% understand not wanting to 3d print and either crafting or buying the pieces.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah, Printable Scenery. That should be a quick Kickstarter campaign with only having to deliver STL files.

        I look forward to seeing your printed Hagglethorn Hollow!


  6. Personally, I don’t think the pictures of the terrain look bad at all. Don’t worry about the shine too much unless it is throwing off your camera’s focus. Terrain doesn’t work so well for this because it is often too big but you can always try making a lightbox from scratch for mini photos. That is what I use and it really helps diffuse the light/shine on minis.

    In terms of your terrain improvements, I like what you did a lot. I think the fallen leaves add some much needed color range to the terrain and it looks realistic to me. Your wife has put her finger on what is “the rub” with our hobby. The work never ends and truthfully, it isn’t worth the time put in, unless you enjoy the act of putting in the time if you know what I mean. I actually thought the way your wife did which led me to quit the hobby in high school but I realize now that the process of hobbying and not just gaming is the main appeal for most of us 🙂 Additionally, if we only enjoyed gaming, then we’re not prioritizing our time very well and should just use unpainted plastic!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good looking stuff! What a luxury to have a wife that is also in to the hobby 🙂 How did you manage to get her involved or was she already interested when you met her, if you don’t mind me asking? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! My wife had played pen and paper RPG’s before we met… and I met her at a LARP, so it was not difficult to introduce her to tabletop wargaming as long as there was a narrative to it. She has a natural inclination for craft hobbies as well so she took to painting minis and terrain building quite quickly.

      Liked by 1 person

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