Sunday, October 25, 2015

25mm houses project - pictures and tutorial

Working on some 25mm houses, to rebuild some of my terrain collection that has frittered away and declined over the past decade or so.

I want to build a couple of different styles of houses, mostly useful for late medieval through 19th century.  These will be used for a variety of different European conflicts (and, as always, will be stolen for everything else that I can think of), but initially they are intended for Balkanian wars in the mid 19th century.  The regions of Balkania that I tend to wargame that period in  (my two imagi-nations of Furstenburg and Rumpwhistle) are relatively poor, although they enjoyed some prosperity in the 15th and 16th century.  So most of the durable buildings left in the area (everything from wealthier farm houses, to high street shops, castles, churches, and taverns) are based on older (pre-19th century) architecture.  So this works perfectly with my bigger goal of rebuilding some houses that will be useful for a variety of conflicts.

My first goal are a couple of houses that could be used, maybe along with a tavern or a church, as the focal point for a small village.  So this first round are basically stand alone farm houses, that might end up in a walled compound with a small work building, animal housing, or a barn.

For construction, I looked at several options, including a lot of the really lovely print-and-assemble buildings that are available.  In the end, I returned to my favorite - which is using foam core board for the basic structure, and then applying architectural and details on top of that.

So first step was to cut out some basic shapes.  I chose to make the one story structures basically 1.5 inches tall, and then have a peaked roof rise another inch above that.  I made the peak ends of the house 3 inches wide, and the side structures another three inches.  For this basic pattern, I cut out enough pieces for two structures.

Foam core board is easy to work with, if you have a relatively sharp cutting implement, and resign yourself to having to cut along a score line a few times.  If you are unfamiliar with the material, it has been around for some time, and has been used for gaming models for a few decades now, and originally was used for really nice Architectural models.  It is basically two layers of paper (or sometimes sheet plastic) filled with a layer of foam, to give it thickness and strength.  My method, is always to cut three times (which almost always results in a nice clean edge).  First cut is to go through the top layer of paper.  Next cut is to go through the foam, and score the bottom piece of paper.  The third cut goes through the bottom piece of paper.  If you try this with anything but a sharp razor knife (an X-acto or something similar), then you will end up mangling the foam, and pulling/tearing the paper.  If you haven't worked with foam core board before, this is the single best tip I can share.

Next is to assemble the basic pieces.  There are a couple of options here, for strength and proper angles.  First, is to use straight pins, through one piece of foam core, into the one being glued to it - this holds it in place, provides extra strength, and ensures a straight join.  For these small structures, I didn't feel as if it was necessary, but when I have built much larger structures (castle walls, towers, large middle eastern buildings, Indian temples, etc) I almost always use straight pins.

The second option, is to use some sort of straight edge angle piece inside as a support to give the building strength and to help keep the corners square.  Again, on these small structures I didn't go this route, for two reasons.  First is because I could square them on my cutting surface grid, and basically just hold them until the tacky glue dries (I use tacky white glue for these, because it dries quick, is cheap, and is extremely easy to work with).  Second, is because I plan to mount these to wooden bases, will will ensure lots of strength down the road.


Once these guys set, and are dried, if you have any overhang on any edge, and you think it might be too much to cover over with the decorative material (whatever you end up using - paper, paint, spackle filler, etc), then you can use a razor knife to trim the left over bits that overhang.

Leave those basic structures to dry for a while before proceeding to the decorate stage.  Once I did that, however, I decided that rather than paint these guys (which would have involved some sort of undercoat of white spackle filler, or white primer paint) I would use colored paper for the basic wall covers.  I used a nice 65 lb weight card stock, mostly because it won't warp when you glue it, or if you come back and paint details on it.  I cut out basic shapes to glue on, and using a glue stick I attached them.  One thing - it is nice, at this stage, when you are covering over the side pieces to make sure the edges of the foam board on the end pieces are covered over.  Another technique to do this, which I usually use in conjunction to employing straight pins, is to cut away a section of one layer of paper and the foam on the end piece, and then the side piece fits in, so that once they are glued together and dried, there is no foam edge showing.  I will try to do a model like that soon, and post pictures.


As you can see, with this method, I was a little bit sloppy with my edges - so that the colored paper does not line up exactly with each other.  That's okay, because I plan to do some details that will decorate the edges, as well as cover up that gappy join.  For these houses, I planned to do a variety of different constructions.  One method will be half timber, and the other member will be stone structure with plastered over walls.  This first house is of the second variety, so I have to give the idea of stacked stones for support at the corners.  This gives me a great excuse to cover over that gap.

I cut out some different colored card stock - grey to suggest stonework - and decorated with a fine point marker the basic outlines of the stones.  Then using precision scissors I cut these pieces out, and scored them on one side (to help with a crisp fold).  A tip - whenever you have surfaces like this that are supposed to stand out on any sort of paper construction, always outline your pieces with black. Try not to let any edges of paper show that are not some dark color.  That is like black lining when you paint - it suggests depth, and shadows, in small ways, and hides some of the obvious model making materials.  These houses are far from realistic, but the black edging makes them look a little better (even if they are supposed to be the old school sort of cartoony terrain seen in a lot of the older wargaming books and magazines).  This is what I tried to do with this corner stone work (and also with the roof piece).k

As you can see, the edges cover over the joins between the sides and ends, and the stone work looks reasonable.

The last basic piece, before decorating with architectural details, is the roof.  For a small building like this, I used a basic piece of card stock, cut and scored, and with end flaps folded down to suggest depth, and just glued it on.  There you have the basic, finished shape of the model house.

For this building, some of the features I would want to add are (at least) a door and some windows.  Rather than messing around with glazed windows, I instead chose to do wooden shutters.

The door is done in layerd pieces of card stock - a dark wood for the background of the door, and a lighter wood for the door itself.  I did a small grey threshold stone under the door, again as a piece of decorated (slightly) card stock.

The effect of the door that I was trying was for something like this . . .
 Rather than adding on separate black pieces for the hinges and door handle, etc, I just decorated the door with a fine point marker.
For future cottages, and efforts, I had considered doing other details, like a lintel window over the door, or even a window as part of the door, but I think those are details that speak to a later architecture than what I was aiming for.  Here are some examples of other doors that feature those other elements - maybe to be added later . . .
The presence of gourds almost certainly mark this as a Balkanian door...

While a later period door (note the electric light), this could be nice to model.
At this point, the details on the roof decoration are seen.  I added some simple lines to suggest tiles on the roof.  I could have gone with thatch, or some other material (chinked planks, shakes, etc) - but instead, I wanted to suggest tiles. 

So, there is the first house.  I also built two others, with different looks and architectural features, to model specific buildings in Balkania, but the next article will talk about them.

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