Saturday, August 04, 2007

Leaf-Olympics: Day 7--Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow

The last couple days have been a paint-and-glue-a-thon of pleasure. All the small and almost all the medium sized leaves are on the tree (see middle image.) The left image shows the tree less than one month ago! treemendous progress for me and a speed Halfland has never known before outwardly! The right image is a quickie computer sketch of what about twice the amount of leaves would look like.

Firstly, yay. I'm very pleased with how the tree is growing, each day it's getting and more magical here. Mashed potato mountain anyone? (The winning leaf painting method for future reference below*)

Decision time people. I'd sure appreciate an opinion. Do I apply the last of the medium-sized leaves tomorrow and call the canopy done until the paper Answer Leaves, nuts, and possibly berries are added and see if it's enough then? Or do I paint and apply the jumbo largest leaves that are here, even though they are out of scale for the tree, just to fill it in? Or do I go back to Michael's craft supply, hunt for the exact type of leaf, and buy another $100 bucks worth to paint and add for lushy full tree goodness, indicated in the right-hand photo above? Hmmm.

Leaf size increments: tiny (left), small (center), medium (right), are all on the tree now. The jumbo large (not shown) would be the next proportion size up, in other words, life size. Thus really too large for my world.

In other news: MOSSSSSSssssssss!!! Yes, the real mosses were added to the North side of the Answer Tree's trunk and branches today! It looks amazingly, wonderfully realistic in person. (Whatever camera I end up using to shoot this film, it had better have the ability to shoot for detail. The right lighting, which isn't here yet, will help too.)

So, here's the magic formula for eye-foolingly great tree moss: I used a sampling of real mosses collected on a forest walk in Washington state a couple years ago. The textures and colors aren't really available in floral supply or craft shops, so having the real stuff was fantastic. But the real magic comes in the form of the small packet of light green model railroad tree foliage material I bought at a model shop many years ago for Halfland. The texture of this stuff is partly stringy and partly flocky at the same time. It pulls apart into thin wisps of perfect scale grain to simulate real moss on this tree. I found that using YES! Stick Flat paper glue, that dries MATTE vs. glossy, yet holds strongly, was the way to go.

I smeared the gel-like paste where I wanted moss to grow. Broke apart the real moss into tiny clusters and pressed them into it. I filled in with the synthetic model train diorama material, pressing gently as I went with the heel of my hand. One could make it as flat or as dimensional as they like, either way it will look far more life like than paint alone might.

*Hand-painted leaf method, follow in order:

• Undersides painted first, stick leaves down face first onto large surface of either masking tape or shelf liner, sticky side up.
• Use burgundy, wine, and ochre acrylics, blending as you go w/craft brush. Dry brush veins and stems in contrasting color.
• Flip when dry onto fresh, sticky surface, pressing down all edges very well. Paint tops and stems w/several shades of greens including light yellow green highlights and let dry.
• Use sap green water brush to sketch veins on embossed tops. Blend back lines with a clean craft brush moistened with small amount of gloss medium.
• Touch up egregious errant paint blobs with matching markers or leave them as natural leaf blemishes, depending on how they look.
• Repeat several hundred times.


  1. Wow, I would have never thought of Mosses on the Tree, I say wait for the ansers!

    PS: The Painting is nearly Finished, A few touch-ups and finishing of Grass and it will be done!

  2. hey shel,

    looking good!

    re leaf opinions (since you asked), i think i would next add some of the big ones for fill in and variety (in terms of scale, i've seen some pretty big head-sized leaves on those oakish kind of trees). and then add the rest of the mediums.

  3. A mountain of mashed potatoes indeed! This is coming along so fantastic! It just looks great.

    Even though you asked for opinions, I think you know the answer on what to do about the extra leaves.

    Or maybe you should ask the answer tree itself for an answer :-)


    "I know this sounds crazy, but ever since yesterday on the road, I've been seeing this shape. Shaving cream, pillows... Dammit! I know this. I know what this is! This means something. This is important. " - Roy Neary

  4. Nick H2:12 AM

    Hey, it's good to drop in here and see progress every week!

    Hmm... I would ONLY use the biggest leaves if they were at the back, mostly hidden by smaller leaves from every angle, and never seen clearly on their own from any angle you might shoot at. They could add some density, but it's a risk. Best to keep to the smaller sizes in my view. Unless you can cut them up, break up their outlines, make them seem like smaller leaves?

    Moss is good. Tree like moss. Mmmm, Mmmmosss.

  5. Thank you, THANK YOU! Each and all.

    Asking the Answer Tree! Brilliant! Duh! Of course I should! I should've thought of that!

    I'll post what the decision was today!


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