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  • giorgis 11:53 pm on December 11, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scenery   

    Terrain Building 

    I recall watching a YouTube video by Tabletop Minions that said about the time spent in our hobby, and about a common excuse for lack of time. In my particular case, my lack of time spent in solo playing (wargaming or roleplaying) in the past month or so was due to my focus on miniatures painting and terrain building. I consider both of these part of our hobby. Nice, painted, complete scenery and miniatures can be evocative and helps with immersion. Of course none, of these are necessary, as one can play in virtual environments or even theater of the mind. But I really love putting the little figures on the table. It brings back fond memories.

    I am uploading some of my painted miniatures photographs from time to time, but I really want some natural light for these shoots. On the fantasy line, I have painted more orcs, dwarves, high elves, barbarians, beastmen and some extras to the existing mercenaries and town guard sets, among others.

    Lately I discovered a new way (for me) to create buildings, which was fast, modular, and with nice results.

    The core material was corrugated cardboard, accompanied by cork sheet and wooden sticks (art supplies). I speckled and primed these as I used them, but made sure that I pushed the brush in instead of drawing it along the cardboard in order to texture it (don’t use a good brush, it will ruin it). Main color white, washed with brown and drybrushed white top-down in the end.

    Also I switched from PVA glue for the terrain, to UHU universal glue, which isn’t water soluble and cures much faster.

    Did two sets, one middle-eastern/ancient and one middle-ages/iron-age. The core buildings are more or less the same, but the roofing is different.

    You can see the end result in two scenes I set up here.

    I’ve learned a lot from this process, and I intend to finalize these sets with some walls and small additional items to further liven it up.

  • giorgis 11:18 am on April 4, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scenery   

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery Pt4 

    Just one house won’t cut it, so I started on another one. For variety I decided to make it a little larger and with a different roof shape and tiles. Also for this one I wanted the door to be hung on the inside.

    What I used

    • Thin carton
    • White glue
    • Acrylic putty
    • Acrylic paint
    • Thin kidcraft wood


    This time I made it 40mmX50mm and gave the roof a single direction. Again using thin cardboard.

    cut wood

    My initial design was to be with wooden beams just like the first house I made, and also several shutters. It’s much easier to plan ahead, even if in this particular case I switched designs.


    I cut and glued it together and made an opening for a window and the door.
    I also added wooden beams on the inside with double sided sticky tape to give it strength against warping.


    For the roof I changed my design. Initially I tried to make a curved tile roof using drinking straws, but that wasn’t feasible, at least in the way I tried. So, next inspired by the previous roof, I did a ^^^ shape tile roof. I took a piece of carton and carved straight lines every 2,5mm, alternating the carving in each side of the carton. Then I pushed it, to make an accordion shape. I cut it horizontally and made accordion stripes which I glued partially overlaying on top of each other on another piece of flat carton, and had my roof ready.

    painted roof

    Glued the roof on the substructure and painted it using acrylic paint (light blue+orange+brown) mixed with glue to give strength to the carton.
    I also painted the inside black so that looking in from the window won’t look bad.

    coated house

    Here I switched my planning. Instead of using wooden beams I decided to cut out little brick tiles from carton. I carved them to be ready to be shaped for the corners.
    I speckled the structure with putty mixed with some black for a gray color and glue to make it ready to accept items on top.
    I then alternated the bricks to give the shape in the picture. I also added a couple more around for the brick shapes showing at a couple places.
    Despite my additional beams on the inside there was some warping especially on the larger left wall. I should have added a T junction on the middle of the wall on the inside and maybe added a beam on the lowermost side. I removed part of the warp by pushing it back, but it’s evident. Maybe if I had based it, I wouldn’t have this problem.


    Then I wen ahead and glued the door from the inside. This was a bit tough as my planning wasn’t perfect and had to add several carton and wood pieces to make it stick. I hadn’t also painted those pieces black beforehand and it was tough afterwards. Went and finished the painting of the bricks (white) and the wall (gray) and door (brown). Dry brushed the roof (light blue+white), the bricks and walls (white) and the door (yellow ochre). Finally washed it with warm water with detergent with paint on the roof (black+blue), bricks and walls (black+red) and door (raw umber).

    Both houses

    Here’s my two houses next to each other.

  • giorgis 12:43 am on March 30, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scenery   

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery Pt3 

    I already have several fortification pieces and a few trees, but what I need is something residential.
    My first attempt was with air-dry clay and was an utter failure. I placed the air-dry clay on a carton with glue, and it collapsed under the moisture and weight of the clay. A fellow modeler suggested I use speckle instead.
    Now, my main problem is the roof. The scale I aim for is 15mm, so there’s a high risk any tiles I design will be too large compared to my minis. The best option I found, was the one described in the video by TheTerrainTutor Miniature Tile, Slate & Wooden Shingle Roofing. I went ahead with the carton option, but I only cut the tile corners on one side not both, since I considered that too much for 15mm.

    What I used

    • Thin carton
    • White glue
    • Acrylic putty
    • Acrylic paint
    • Thin kidcraft wood


    This time I went ahead and measured everything with a ruler. I even gave some room for the places of the house where I would need connections. It’s a 30mmX50mm with a 15mm tall roof, all cut out from a single piece. I glued it together with white glue, and used some tape on the inside to keep it together while the glue sets.

    First side
    Then I went ahead and cut out the roof tile series as described in the video, and attached them to the roof using white glue.

    I finished the other side, and also added small Λ tiles to cover the top. At the time I wasn’t sure I should have done this, but I enjoyed the final result.

    Painted Roof
    I gave a couple coats of paint (1/3 vermillon + 2/3 raw umber) for the tiles. Here I was worried because I noticed that wherever the white glue had seeped through to the surface, the paint didn’t stick. I hope that with more coats, washes and drybrushing, this won’t be evident in the end.

    Painted house
    Next, I considered my options. I wanted some wooden beams, window shutters and a door. So I measured some kidcraft wooden sticks and cut them to the required sizes. I should have done it in the initial step of blueprinting, but no harm done yet. I painted the sticks with raw umber, and then let them dry overnight. Once dry, I went ahead and prepared a colored speckle (acrylic putty + yellow ochre + glue) and put it on the walls. While still wet, I put the wooden parts in place to set.
    Here I had some warping, which I countered immediately by adding some double-sided sticky tape on the inside part and adding a wooden stick. This gave it the necessary structural strength to remain straight. Unfortunately I had not done this on the shorter walls, so these are a tad bit warped.

    Finished house
    I did a second pass of colored speckle in some areas where I had some gaps.
    I saw in another video that washes should be added after drybrushing. So I went ahead and did that even though it didn’t sit right with me. I drybrushed the wooden parts, the walls and the roof, and then did a wash on each. I had to return a couple times and fix a few things but overall it went okay.
    While drybrushing the roof, I went in a fixed direction from top to bottom to give a highlight. I am quite happy with the end result. Never thought it would take me two days to build such a small house.

    Lessons learned

    1. Measuring properly helped me have a proper substructure for the house. Everything else fell in place afterwards.
    2. The colored speckle is an excellent choice to wall up carton.
    3. The wooden sticks add structural integrity. Next time I will put them in all internal sides of the building.
  • giorgis 11:28 pm on March 29, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scenery   

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery Pt2 

    Unfortunately I haven’t had much progress in solo endeavors the past days due to a combination of events and the overall grim situation.
    I focused on scenery instead (can’t work on my minis since I’m still waiting for some primers and varnishes).

    What I used

    • Repurposed foam
    • Thin wire
    • White glue
    • Acrylic putty
    • Acrylic paint
    • Soldering iron
    • Solder
    • Thin kidcraft wood


    So the project was a gatehouse. To that end. I repurposed packaging foam, not the best choice since it was flexible and wouldn’t let paint stick on it. More on that later.

    So I cut out a piece of foam to form the gate opening and cut out a few pieces of thin wire, and thrusted them in the foam to form a portcullis. I also used two different pieces of black foam from a different package to set up two towers on either side of the gate.

    Next, I shaped-cut a separate foam piece to form battlements above the gate and speckled and glued the two towers in place. I also speckled the entire gatehouse to ensure paint would stick.

    The towers wouldn’t stick in place, so I cut out a few wire pieces and stuck them at an angle so as to hold the different foam pieces in place while the glue sets. I also cut out battlements at the towers.
    To finalize the portcullis, I went above and beyond and soldered the wires, making a sturdy structure.
    Furthermore, I noticed that the speckle would chip and fall the more I handled the piece.

    First coat
    I began a first coat of paint, and realized that the black foam would suck the paint, so I went ahead afterwards and speckled the towers as well. Now my troubles with painting begin. Wherever speckle hasn’t reached (some creases), paint won’t set. The transparent foam material is completely resistant.
    On a good note, the paint seemed to strengthen the putty and it wouldn’t chip, increasing the overall toughness of the piece.

    Second coat
    Nevertheless I persisted. So I passed two gray coats mixed with some glue and water in an attempt to get it to stick.
    I then speckled places where there were gaps evident, and after the putty was dry, I painted them over again. During that process, while handling the piece, some pieces of speckle would chip due to the soft foam underneath, revealing the transparent foam. Again, I speckled and painted with a medium gray.

    I went ahead and black washed the entire thing. For the black wash I used black paint, lots of water and a drop of detergent to aid with the flow. Had to do a few washes especially for the deep cracks, where there were foam holes. Finally, after this was dry, I drybrushed with a mixture of yellow ochre and gray.

    I wanted to add a wooden gate to the portcullis, and went ahead with an open gate, because I wanted the portcullis to be visible. I used kid crafts wooden pieces (like tiny sticks and tiny icecream sticks) which I cut out to shape, glued and painted them a raw umber color. I then went ahead and did something which I should have done in the first place. I mixed the acrylic putty with black paint to get gray putty. I also added a drop of white glue to the mix and used this gray putty to stick the gate directly to the gatehouse without bothering to re-paint over it afterwards.


    Lessons learned

    1. The foam was largely unsuitable. Re-purposing material must be done carefully. I ended up wasting a lot of putty and paint to do the piece, and I’m concerned about its integrity.
    2. Soldering the wires was a great way to have a sturdy piece. Much better than any glue. Will have it in mind for the future for any wire metalworks.
    3. Mixing acrylic putty with paint is an excellent way to have a speckle undercoat without the need to add a paint layer. It also has the added bonus of being the same color, and with glue it can be used to attach materials on top. If I had used this technique in the beginning I would have saved me a lot of white paint used to make the gray undercoat.
  • giorgis 4:02 pm on March 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Scenery   

    Medieval Fantasy Scenery 

    With the recent events, I’ve found the need to do something relaxing for the mind.
    I had started working on a few items of scenery. I’m not skilled at this, so I started with a few items and cheap consumables.
    I think that proper scenery really helps with immersion and that’s an important part of the solo experience.

    What I used

    • Air dry clay
    • Plaster
    • Acrylic paints
    • White glue
    • Thin wire
    • Thin kidcraft wood
    • Green hard sponge
    • Tube of toilet paper
    • Furniture pads
    • Various assortment of tools

    The trees

    For the tree trunk I took three pieces of wire and twisted them tightly using two pairs of pliers. On purpose, I left the bottom a bit untwisted to give them roots and base them, and a lot more room on top, untwisted for the branches.
    The wire I used had a green plastic coating, which makes it useable as is if you don’t want to bother yourself further and also helps with the branches. The plastic makes it a bit more difficult to get the clay stuck on it afterwards.

    For the foliage I used common kitchen hard green sponge. It’s like the hard part of regular sponges, but comes sold separately.
    I had seen a video here on how to make the foliage.
    I attached it to my wire armature by piercing through each piece of foliage and then twisting the wire to hold it.

    tree with foliage

    I then used furniture pads and stuck them to the bottom of the trees to base them. That’s an optional step, but I believe it will help with the overall durability of the piece if you decide to go ahead and add a clay trunk.

    I then shaped air dry clay around the trunk and roots. I didn’t add any of it to the branches as I found the risk of contaminating the foliage too high. I sculpted a few nooks here and there on the clay to give it a bark feel.
    I also spread a thin layer of plaster on the part of the pad that was left uncovered to make sure it will be paintable afterwards.

    trees with clay

    I then did a first hand of paint to it, using a brown base for the trunk and a sand-grey base for the bottom.

    trees first hand painted

    For the finished, I did a second hand of paint (hadn’t used primer). And dry brushed the trunks and roots with a brown-green color.

    The Tower

    For the armature I used toilet paper carton tube.
    I measured the dimensions I needed (a rectangle of 2πr * h) and spread my air dry clay onto a surface.
    I textured the surface by hand using a long flat stick and a flat screwdriver to make the bricks/blocks. Then carefully I removed the clay from the surface and applied it to the tube which I first had dampened first to make it stick, as suggested in the video here.

    Textured tower

    I didn’t do a very fine job and had many gaps and crooked look. I left it to dry at least 48hours under a damp towel as suggested in the video above, to avoid the formation of cracks, and it worked.
    After it dried out I covered some severe gaps with acrylic plaster.

    Now, I wanted a roof and some battlements.
    For the roof I took a round furniture pad, which seemed to fit exactly right into the tube. For additional strength I poured white glue all around its contact points, first at the top and after it dried, at the bottom. After this dried too I cut out a disc of air dry clay which I textured with little tiles. For texturing I used small heat sinks but any tool could be used.
    For the battlements and the inner wall I again measured the surface needed and textured bricks and removed the unnecessary parts afterwards with a spatula to shape the battlements.

    Tower with roof and battlements

    For the gate I cut out 4 pieces of wood, moistened and added a bit of white glue and mounted them on air dry clay. I cut out the unnecessary parts of the clay while moist. I then moistened the surface of the tower where I wanted the gate and squeezed it carefully there. I plastered the perimeter and mounted some clay bricks from a failed wall attempt. I moistened and put a bit of white glue on the bricks before mounting them. I then proceeded to plaster any gaps.

    tower with gate

    Once that dried too, I painted a first hand with dark grey acrylic paint. I added a tad bit of white glue to the paint along with water to make it stick and fall into the gaps.

    tower first hand paint

    I then passed a second hand. Since my tower was crooked and had several gaps, even after plastering, there were places where the paint couldn’t get in. I solved this problem by making a wash of watered down paint, where in the water I had added a drop of dishwasher soap first. It flowed nicely into every last bit.

    tower painted

    I finished it off with drybrushing with an ochre-gray color.

    Finished Tower


    My main mistakes were with regards to the tower. I was so eager to set it up that I made no considerations for openings.
    Attaching the gate required a lot of consideration, and if I had planned ahead and cut parts of the carton for battlements they would be more refined and easier to do.
    I also could not add any windows, and that’s a pity because I would love some arrow slits.

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