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How To - (Page 2)

How To Index
  Page 1  
  Using ScaleTree Armatures
    Using ScaleTrees Without Foliage
    Using ScaleTrees Complete
    Planting ScaleTrees
    BranchBunches Instructional Sheets
    Advance Tips & Techniques
  Page 2
    Tree Shapes for Various Applications
         Competing Trees
         Trees Overcoming Obstacles
         Do Trees Always Grow Straight Upward?
         Remaining Trees After Deforesting Land
         The Anatomy of a Forest

Tree Shapes for Various Applications

Prototype trees come in all shapes and sizes. Even though all of our trees are hand made one at a time, it is impossible for us to create every possible shape and size. Therefore, we encourage the modeler to alter the trees so that they do not all look alike. If you purchase 20 trees, of the same size, they will look quite similar until you "mess them up a bit." The following information will help in this process.

Out of the Box: All ScaleTrees have been designed to be the shape of the full mature tree of its prototype. The White Oak species was the prototype for our first release of our ScaleTrees. The shape of the tree at left is the general shape of our ScaleTrees Complete and also the shape of our ScaleTrees Without Foliage.

The green outline represents the foliage canopy. Notice how the foliage canopy is around the outside of the branching structure. Leaves need sunlight to grow. Tree branches need leaves to grow. If no light reaches a branch, then leaves will not grow on that branch. If leaves do not grow on a branch, the branch will not grow. This is a simple way to describe the growth of a tree and the growth of leaves. As interesting as they may be, diagrams of the photosynthesis process, and the molecular structures of plant cells are not necessary to model trees well.

The tree shape in figure 1  above represents an "out of the box" ScaleTree Complete. It makes a beautiful stand alone mature deciduous tree. A stand alone tree is one that is not competing with other trees, buildings, storm damage, or other structures or damages.

Competing Trees

When two or more trees compete for sunlight, several things occur. When their limbs begin to grow into the same space, they will form a single canopy of leaves. This is illustrated in figure 2  to the right. Notice that there are no leaves on the inner branches. Also notice how the inner branches have either not continued to grow, or have withered due to the absence of leaves.

These adjoining trees can easily be modeled by cutting away the BranchBunches and their foliage with scissors, and then clipping the limbs with wire cutters. Of course, always save the scraps to use as sapplings, bushes, hillside brush, or on a distant hillside.

Remember, you bought the model and it is yours. Feel free to bend, cut, trim, thin and change it to be what you want. Do not be afraid to alter them. We encourage it.

Notice how the inner trees of a close grouping are shaped due to the effects of the surrounding trees. This is illustrated in figure 3  to the right with three trees. The middle tree only has foliage on the upper crown of its branch structure, and the two outside trees do not have mature limbs underneath the leaf canopy above.

Trees Overcoming Obstacles

When a tree is next to a building or other obstacle, it will do what it can to utilize the available space. Again, it will have foliage only in the areas where it can receive sunlight.

When people plant trees, they typically don't plant them out in an open field or in the middle of the yard, but close to a building so that it can provide shade. The tree in figure 4 would almost appear to be a half tree if the building were removed. This is a very typical scene in the real world and therefore should be a natural scene to model, especially in urban settings. Even in large cities that are mostly concrete jungles, there will be many trees that have either been planted or have volunteered to grow. Look around any town or city, and you won't find many streets that are without any trees.

The tree in figure 5 has grown to be taller than the building with which it competes. When this occurs, the tree again tries to resume its natural shape by trying to fill whatever space it can wherever it can receive acceptable sunlight. This is an easy tree to model by simply using wire cutters to clip away the branches that compete with the obstacle, and then by cutting the BranchBunches with scissors. The clipped away branches can be used for excellent smaller trees and sapplings.

The tree in figure 6 to the left has found its self in the way of progress. A tree like this can fall into two categories; 1) the tree was there before the powerlines were installed, 2) The tree grew to compete with the powerline. Either way, for safety reasons, the tree needs to be trimmed to allow the powerlines their space. The easy thing about modeling a tree such as this, is that is looks great even if you mangle it and make it look really abused. A tree like this has had a rough life, and examples are easy to find in any area where modern civilization co-exists with trees.

A tree covered road is always an interesting feature. The trees in figure 7 had a setback in their growth due to the installation of a roadway, but they have overcome their challenge. If the trees were there before the roadway, then the road builders would have cut away the trees that were in the way. This would have left a gap in the leaf canopy due to the missing trees. As time passed, the canopy gradually filled in to take advantage of the new sunlight beaming through the gap in the leaf canopy. Since the roadway is narrow enough, the leaf canopy from the two sides grew together into one single canopy again. A scene such as this makes an excellent method for hiding backdrops if the roadway takes a turn to dissapear behind the trees.

Do trees always grow straight upwards?

No. There are many factors that affect the shape and posture of a tree. Trees can be shaped and changed by wind, sunlight, erosion, soil conditions, water, pests, people, etc. One tree tilted in a model scene may seem out of place, or appear as if it needs to be fixed, but by following the prototype, it can appear natural.

The example in figure 8 shows how a simple hillside can produce trees that have less than a vertical posture. A prototype hillside is an easy place to spot trees that have a lean to them. This typically occurs when the hillside gradually slides down hill over time. Imagine that the hillside in figure 8 is made of ice cream. When the ice cream begins to melt (erosion of soil and gravity), the tree begins to slide down the slope with the ice cream (soil). It is possible for a tree to slide down a slope without leaning, but if the roots are anchored into slower moving or non moving soil and rocks, the tree will increasingly lean down hill. As the tree leans, the weight of the tree also amplifies the effect. Imagine the weight of that tree that is leaning the most in figure 8. Now imagine how much force is produced by gravity trying to pull that tree down the slope. If the soil moves quickly enough, the tree may fall.

Even without a large sloping hillside, erosion can take its toll on a large tree, and pull the rug out from under its feet. In figure 9, the tree that is on the right side edge of the creek is in the process of falling. Its roots have become exposed, and its very foundation has been eroded away. If its remaining covered roots are strong enough to hold the tree up, and gather enough nutrients, the tree can continue its life. This particular tree has a helpful friend across the creek that is helping to support him. By the looks of it, the tree on the left side of the creek also needs this partnership since erosion is trying to take his foundation away as well.

The Remaining Trees After Deforesting Land

Figure 10 is an example of a typical tree shape found after a forest has been thinned, or when trees are left after land has been cleared of its trees. This is often seen when a new housing subdivision is built and the land developer clears most of the land and leaves a few mature trees standing.

Because only the upper crown of the tree was receiving light, there are only mature limbs at the top. There may be a few immature limbs on the lower portion of the trunk, but the mass is concentrated at the top.

The Anatomy of a Forest

There are many components to a prototype forest. In order to affectively model a scale forest, it is important to include these components. Some of the components (starting from the ground up) that can be found in figure 11 are; land terrain with drainage routes, erosion, dead trees laying on the forest floor, florest floor clutter of fallen leaves, brush, weeds, mosses, rock if indigenous to the area, saplings, trees leaning due to soil movement and erosion, a single leaf canopy for the forest. a gap in the forest canopy where a tree is not currently present, a younger tree trying to grow to fill a gap in the canopy, a large mature tree that has died. Trees at the edge of the forest have mature limbs with leaves all the way down the trunk.

NOTES:   1. It is possible to have more than one leaf canopy. This secondary canopy that is lower than the top canopy is made of trees that require less light.   2. In modeling the land terrain, all land has drainage routes. Even the flat part of Kansas has drainage ditches. Landscape architects design parking lots to have a slope in order to control water flow. If it rains in an area, there are drainage routes.


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