Tutorial - Palm Trees

If you've been following along, then you would have seen one of my latest works, the Oscar flying over a Pacific Island. It was a small vignette that made use of some home made palm trees. During the build, I detailed how I created the trees for my base, but I figured I'd add it to the tutorial page for future reference should some one want to see it...

So first off, it is always important to have inspiration and references. Before beginning, I downloaded some photos of palm trees in a setting that would be similar to what I was trying to replicate...

Step 1:
First you need to make some trunks. There are different methods for doing this, but at 1/75 scale it was simplest to use sprue. So, cut some rod off of a spare tree that you may have lying around, being sure to vary their lengths...

Step 2: You can see by the pictures I've included of actual palm trees that they don't always stand straight up, as a pine tree or an oak would. They have a bit more personality, bending and leaning in certain directions. So, you ca take a candle and heat the rods just enough to bend them...

Step 3:
Now you need to replicate that unique texture of palm tree bark. In doing so, you can wrap the sprue with thin copper wire to give it that ribbed appearance, then surrounded that with blue masking tape...

...for the final look...

Step 4:
The hardest part will be creating palm fronds...a lot of palm fronds. For my scene, I used some fake plant leaves that you can acquire from the reptile section of your local pet store, but I've seen folks just them out of paper...

Remove the plastic spines and replace them with a length of bendable wire. Then cut the leaves to give them their distinctive shape...

I repeated this process about 12 or so more times, but you can make as many leaves as you feel necessary. 

Step 5:
Once each leaf is sliced precisely, and the copper wire glued on to form a spine, attached them to the trunks using a generous helping of super glue...

Step 6:
Its starting to look more and more like a little tree, eh? The copper wire allows you to bend the leaves, and position them as you see fit. Now you need to clean up the top of the tree, where the leaves attach because it gets a bit ugly there with all that wire showing. So, get out a number 2 pencil and gave it a good sharpening. Why? Because these neat little shavings can be used on the tree like so...

Just grab the larger shavings and glue them around the bases of the leaves...

Step 7:
Choose your color palette and paint your trunk. It would also be a good idea to add some different colors to the leaves to vary the shades of green and give it a more realistic appearance...

After that, it was good to go. Just attach it to your base, and you're finished! All that is left is to take some proper photos!


  1. Looks good, I will give this a try, thanks

    1. You're very welcome! Its pretty simple, only tedious to cut all the leaves up!

    2. Wow! This is fantastic. What a great technique. I love the idea of cutting up the leaves, and the pencil shavings are inspired. I don't often make tropical stuff, but I might have to after reading this. Great work!

    3. Glad you like it! Simple and cheap. I also have a how-to for building a regular, non tropical tree.

  2. what a fantastic tutorial thank you very much :)

  3. If conceivable, as you clear knowledge, would you mind updating your blog with more information? It is damned helpful in return me.
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  4. Thanks Jon B, this article is very helpful as I am contemplating doing a terrain for a pacific table, thanks for sharing you information
    cheers John


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