|A pasture scene almost ready for static grass and foreground trees.|
Super trees, marketed by Scenic Express, are perhaps the best looking tree armatures on the market today - at least if the goal is a tree covered hillsides. The weakest part of the Super Tree is the slender trunk compared to the rest of the tree. Planting them in mass effectively minimizes that limitation. Of course, the scene will benefit immensely from some true foreground trees. I have a couple of ways to construct this that I may cover in a future blog post.
But there's one other issue with Super trees that I haven't seen addressed in any of the videos, articles, or other tips I've seen published about using them.
Look carefully at the top of most of the armatures and you'll notice a "crown" at the very peak of the tree. Look at the dark orange tree in the center of the image below:
Typically there's a gap between the top of the main "mass" of the tree and this little extra crown shaped branch. While it's acceptable sometimes it's usually something that doesn't look much like the growth pattern of a real tree, and therefore makes it obvious that this is a Super tree and not an oak, maple, elm, or whatever.
The easiest solution is to nip off the crown. I usually do this after the tree is planted. I simply look over the trees, identify the odd-shaped or unusually large "crowns" and snip them off the tree.
Only about 70% or so of the material in any average Super Tree box is really usable. But don't throw the bits and pieces and oddly curved armatures away - they're useful for making those foreground trees.
I've been experimenting with using sanded tile grout for a dirt or gravel road. This is a mixture of a dark and light tan, as well as a medium gray. I simply applied it to the surface of the layout, smoothed it with a putty knife, and then misted it with water mixed with alcohol. This is the first layer to build up the basic road. I need to go back and add a second finish coat - at the that time I'll add some planks to between the rails to create a road crossing.