Adding “EYE APPEAL” to Mass Produced Evergreen Trees


Most of us have seen mass produced trees for Railroad layouts. They are great for filling spaces in the background of a layout. That is why they are often referred to as “Background trees”. Some of us purchase more expensive model trees with better detail that will be used closer to the viewer. These are sometimes referred to as “Foreground trees”.

With a little minor paintwork, patience & practice, the “Mass produced trees” can be enhanced to use anywhere on your layout and will create quite a bit of increased visual appeal. They will be just as colorful & detailed as more expensive “Foreground trees”

Visually, massed produced trees are all the same color green. Not much “eye appeal” & variety there.


Using “Tints & Shades” of your trees base green color; you are going to give these trees some depth & perspective. “Tints” are the base color plus white. “Shades” are the base color plus black. You can use two different colors of green as well. I use “acrylic” paints that dry quickly.

Begin by adding more depth to the trees by “shading” the recessed areas of the trees with a dark green & let dry. This does not need to be uniform coverage. Just dab it on. In fact, the more random the more natural the tree will appear when finished. Now, randomly brush the tips of the tree foliage with a tint of a much lighter green than the base color & let dry.


These steps should give your trees more color contrast. Experiment with different intensities of the shades & tints to get the effect that most appeals to you.

Finally, use several earth color paints: brownish red, umber, and ochre, to highlight small areas of the tree. This represents “dead” branches & dried out sections of the tree.


I have also included a shot of a more subtle color scheme just using two different green paints for highlights. In this method the original tree color is used for the shaded base color.


To finish, spray your trees with a Dullcote (Flat finish) enamel sealer & let dry. “Testors” makes this and it is available in spray cans.

When done, you will have added character to your monochromatic trees. If you work on several trees as you do each color stage, you will be able to make them in just a short time.

Joseph Saunders 12/12/2011



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