Sunday, 3 March 2019

Building Projects Part 1

For the past two months my creative efforts have been focused upon something more architectural. I've been meaning to start work upon  some buildings to complement my existing city walls but this need has always seemed to fall way down the list of things to do with the hobby. I had a few days to myself at the start of the year so I thought I'd make a start.

The city walls make a great backdrop for games and photography but I've always wanted to add at least one street on the other side to add dimension and interest

Throughout January I started work on the first building, a 4 storey timber town house. I used French medieval buildings as inspiration and a source point for the timber work. Here's some photographs at key points in the build from start to finish;

This is quite far in with respect to time spent, I got a bit absorbed in the task and forgot to take photographs ! I began by drawing out the frame for the building on plasticard which was then cut, pinned and glued together.

Then came the task of putting the timber on. The wood was bought from a hobby store (The Range I think), it comes in packs with about 20 30cm lengths. You'll also need a good hobby saw and a little mitre box. You need a clear idea of what you're doing with each side of the building as it all inter-relates, the mitred joints took a while to get right but it doesn't take long to get into the flow of things.Don't worry if some of the wood is not quite square or straight it adds to the finished effect.

The windows and doors were then glued into place (having being measured and lined out on the plasticard), these came from Antenocitis Workshop, they have a good range which I'm keen to explore further. 

The roof tiles are Wills rounded tiles which you can get from model rail suppliers, they're not particularly cheap but they paint up very nicely and look good.

The resin chimney is from a pack of 10 available from Grand Manner, there's some really nice medieval / renaissance examples in the pack.

We're now ready for the infill.

I use filler mixed with brown paint* for basing my figures, this way if it ever chips it doesn't show up white. I keep a mixed pot of 3/4 filler to 1/4 paint on the go which I used for the infill on the building. I found it provides a good base to paint on and you can better see where you've worked with it as opposed to the standard white of the filler. Using a palette knife I filled 2 sides, let dry then the other 2 before then applying further infill to any areas that needed it.

*For the paint colour I used a trick borrowed from Simon Chick; I painted a small square onto some card and took it to a DIY store to colour match. They save it to their system and you can then buy it ready mixed by the litre - your bases will always match !

On to the next stage.

Using a Stanley knife blade I carefully scraped the excess infill from the timbers, this process slowly revealed the timbers with the infill daub which is very satisfying !

Here's the building ready for some paint. I've also added a couple of dormer windows using off cuts from the tile sheets and a cut down window. It was at times frustrating to get the angles and measurements right for this.

The whole building was given an undercoat of System 3 acrylic yellow ochre and then the timbers and infill were painted. This was then washed with raw umber and highlighted before a final dry brush of a light buff (ochre and white) over everything. Here's the finished piece;

For the second building I wanted to try and create a brick and stone piece to represent a more well off household. I used a mix of Flemish and French sources as inspiration and a laser cut kit from Sarissa Precision as the skeleton. 

The kit has a lot more windows so I filled in most of them on the side and two from the rear as well as moving the doors. The windows in the kit don't have any backing so I used a sheet of diamond pattern material with card backing which was glued to the inside during assembly. The whole kit needs to be built as a surface for the DAS terracotta air drying clay. Here you can see the areas I've filled with card and the roof to which the tile sheets were glued straight on to later.

Here's the piece with its DAS clay coating. You need to paint a coat of PVA on to the area you're working on, roll the clay to about 1mm thickness and then place it over. I then smoothed it in with my fingers and did final finishing bits with sculpting tools. This needs to fully dry for at least 24 hours.

Now the 'fun' bit. Working upon a side at a time the brickwork was marked out in pencil first then scored with a scalpel, set square and steel ruler. It took an absolute age to do and required a lot of concentration but stay with it !

I left the sides of this building bare as they were to be rendered which i'll explain later.

As with the timber building the whole thing was then given an ochre base coat. The brick areas were painted in raw sienna, the windows a very dark blue and the stonework a mix of white and ochre before a liberal raw umber wash.

Now the scary bit. The brickwork is then completely painted over in a light buff colour then wiped off with kitchen tissue, the paint stays in the pointing, it's magic ! Here's the finished piece;

The shutters come with the kit

The sides are rendered as the building is intended to be next to and in-between other buildings in a street row. The bricks take so much time to do that this is a blessing !

As with the timber build a small dormer window and chimney feature.

I've rendered the bottom of the back as I intend to put some outbuildings against it.

This piece took a lot more planning and thought but I found this Terrain Tutor YouTube tutorial / interview with David Marshall to be of great use. The process for the modelling and painting of the brickwork is discussed during the last 10-15 minutes. 

I commissioned David to build the city walls for me so this came in very handy for a good match. David also gave me some advice with both of these buildings for which I'm very grateful. If you're minded to commission something really spectacular you can get in touch via TM Terrain.

Both pieces were designed to go together either level or slightly jagged to reveal the side windows. I intend to create a whole row of similar buildings. 

I've found this to be a great antidote to the painters block that I seem to be afflicted with from time to time as it's just an entirely different process requiring a different type of concentration and much bigger brushes.

I'm looking forward to the next additions but I feel a return to some miniature painting is required to get this year going. This has also highlighted the need to paint up some more figures on individual bases to populate the town.

Well that was fun wasn't it.

Bye for now



  1. These buildings look spectacular! A whole row of similar pieces will be awesome as hell I‘m sure. If you don‘t mind me asking: When you say the brickwork was painted over, did you use acrylics? And if so how did you proceed as I‘d think the paint would be at least partially dry before I came round to remove it.

    1. Thanks, yes the challenge is on to get a few more done - I daresay that's a project with no end as you can never have too many buildings.

      The brickwork was painted in System 3 acrylics. Raw Sienna first then left to dry before a wash of Raw Umber. When this was dry it was then painted over in the buff white and rubbed off while it was wet.

      The YouTube video describes the process about 10-15 minutes from the end.

  2. Thats a gorgeous pair of buildings. I am in awe of your patience with the brickwork. I have to say I'm inspired. One day I'll have the time and space to have a go at something like this. The fact that you used the Sarissa buildings as a base has me intrigued as well. Great work. A big fan of your blog.

  3. Great work and well worth the effort. You should check out the following chaps work as I'm sure you will find lots there to interest you:

  4. Wow, inspirational as ever Stuart. Wonderful end results, but well beyond my skill level or patience for that matter

  5. Very nice indeed, I will certainly be making use of these techniques. I would not have thought to let the clay dry before scribing the brickwork but it makes sense when one thinks about it.

  6. Great modelling, most inspiring.

  7. Totally and absolutely crazy work. But the result is worth it!

  8. Great modelmaking and wonderful painting! I look forward to the whole street!
    Best Iain

  9. Wow! Very impressive terrain work!

  10. The finished buildings are magnificent! This side project has been a great rabbit hole to disappear into for a few months, I look forward to a whole town!

  11. Beautiful work Stuart...
    Maybe sometime this year I will get a chance to burn them down...actually knowing my luck they would collapse on my Infantry;-)

    All the best. Aly

  12. Those look fantastic and very interesting techniques. Really inspiring.

  13. Great work Stuart! Lovely match for the DM terrain items you have - and glad that you pick up on all these tips that I keep dropping ;-)
    Well worth all the effort,
    Cheers Simon.

  14. Stuart, I wouldn't expect anything less that perfect. Well done. Stuart