Slopey Trees

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This week I would like to talk about building trees with slopes. In my first post about trees, I focused on the relative new-comer, the cheese slope. The humble roof slope provides a lot of possibilities, with its pebbly textured slope and top studs. Lets brick build some more trees!

I’ve had this post on my mind since before I went away to BrickCon. I even managed to start building some of my sample trees. Then I got back and my workspace was a mess and I couldn’t find those first prototypes and then life got in the way for a bit. Not to mention that fall has arrived here in Cascadia and there hasn’t been a lot of sunshine to photograph by.

Okay, enough excuses, on to the trees.

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Behold these simple evergreens. I’ve used the same basic techniques as I did with the studly trees, just substituting slope bricks for plates on the sides. The resulting trees have some lovely features, providing a nice chunky look with their pebbled slopes and exposed studs. I do wish that it was easier to make them less regular, but the addition of extra layers allows for the introduction of some new angles.

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Playing with some alternate colors is interesting, but ultimately not satisfying. These trees feel a lot larger than my happy little trees, so making them in white just doesn’t feel quite as a snow-covered tree. Likewise, sand green just isn’t cutting it as a little conifer. I tried it because I had the color available, but I think I’d be happier with more vibrant greens.

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By changing the orientation of two-layered trees, I can create shapes more reminiscent of deciduous trees. Again, they are a bit chunky, but look lovely from a distance. Another interesting aspect of building trees like this is that they aren’t restricted to micro-scale. These little trees could easily but placed in minifigure-scale scenes.

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Here I revisit fall colors, switching to dark red slopes. This pretty tree has a slightly different top too, as I omitted a spacer plate and left the 1×1 at the top recessed. Little variations like this would help groves of trees feel a bit more organic. Next I tried my hand a cherry blossom tree. I tried to evoke the upward sloping branches of the trees in Kyoto, and I think that I managed to mostly capture the look. I didn’t have any bricks or plates the right size to top the tree, but I think the gap works (as long as you don’t look straight down and see that black travis brick in the center).

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For my next batch of trees, I turned the slopes on their sides and pin-wheeled them around a spine of travis bricks. The 1×2 slopes leave interesting 1/2 plate gaps that enhance the sculpted, yet organic look. Using 2×2 slopes and spacers to make the layers fit without gaps is a bit less satisfying. I thought about topping these trees with round plates, but the introduction of curves draws too much attention to the faceted sides. The 2×2 plate is a nice compromise, suggesting a domed top.

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Lastly we have some experiments with more complex faceted slopes (I will explore curved slopes in a future post). I picked up all these olive lovelies in the draft at my last PortLUG meeting and I immediately put them to use here. I pin-wheeled the slopes much like the last batch of trees, but the wedge shape give much richer results. The first tree has a nice conical shape, with the look of a nicely manicured christmas tree. I like this one a lot. The inverted version doesn’t work quite as well. Topping it with a 2×2 plate might make all the difference, but I simply didn’t have the parts in my collection. The tapered ellipse is a great shape and this is one of my favorite trees of the bunch.

Again, like my previous posts, I have barely scratched the surface of what I can do with these techniques. These trees in particular are suitable for a variety of scales and could look just at home in minifigure-scale garden as they do in a microscale parkland. There are so many colors and variations.

Keep building and enjoy!

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