Hello all:

I have been reading the forums here for a while but this is my first time joining/posting.

I am an avid WWII table top gamer; I play both 15 and 28mm. I want/need to learn how to build nice looking houses/buildings for my 28mm games. I play with two great fellows that are terrain wizards but my stuff usually looks like my 9 year old made it. I would like to start out simple with roads and a river for 28mm and then move on to buildings.

Any instruction, guidance or input would be greatly appreciated. I know I can easily buy what I want but to be honest I would rather make it.

Thanks,

Skip


Skip said:

Any instruction, guidance or input would be greatly appreciated.

Start by going through the articles section here. You'll find plenty of ideas and instruction there for just about anything you want to build.

After that, peruse the WIP forum. That's where you'll find the practical applications of various techniques used in bigger projects. An example would be my thread here about a 1/285 table with a river, buildings, trees etc. The scales may be different than yours, but the techniques are for any size.

What you build may depend on the games you play. First you have the question of theatre for WWII. Terrain for Guadalcanal is different than terrain for Stalingrad or North Africa. Different theatres will require different materials. Then you have game-logistic design considerations to think about: Do your buildings need interiors? Do you need modular roads? Do you have storage issues? Do you need topo? Et cetera et cetera. Once you know the answers to these questions you'll know what specific techniques to learn to build the appropriate terrain elements.

In the meantime, start gathering materials including but not limited to: paint, foam, card, MDA, popsicle sticks, reindeer moss, flock, talus, epoxy, PVA, various containers, orange bags, Fimo, and all the rest of the good stuff.

Then start building. Start small, work up. Always post your progress here and ask any specific questions you have; many people will jump in. Lots of ways to do any particular thing, so if you're short on materials or techniques, there's always a work-around and lots of advice.


Tob:

Thanks for the response!

I will start looking for ideas on a small house and go from there. We will be playing combo games with German/Soviet/British/US forces so a generic European look will work.

I have a mountain of materials; I just need to figure out how to put them together to create a final model.

Thanks again.


Hi Skip,

Just to let you know that you are not the only one that's not really sure how to do or make models that these chaps do. I started out making the models because my sons were getting into GW WH40K stuff. They didn't want to make the models just play the games and I ended up making and painting. I'm not particularly good at it, but most importantly I actually found I enjoy it.

My sons have lost interest (my eldest now plays "soldiers" for real having joined the Army) but I'm still having a bash at the terrain building etc.

As Tob says the chaps (and chapesses) on the Forum are a great source of information and inspiration. I have a look through all the images and I take a closer look at ones that stand out and catch my eye. I then try to work out how they were created, what materials were used, how were the details added.

The other thing that I've found, and its the old adage - practice makes perfect. I have found that I've gradually got better the more I make. I will never be an expert like Tob and the others, but that's not the point - its simply giving it a go and making improvements with each attempt. I have a shelf full of failed attempts - the thatched cottage that looks more like a Chaos concrete bunker, the tree with branches that look like the tyranids have just had a party in them, the rusty Ork tower that I never got to complete (I didn't post pictures of the underside of it as they were plain plastic!!). But others models I've felt confident enough to post as competition entries and some have even been successfully sold on eBay (only because the Missus tells me off for cluttering the place up with Junk!".

So my advice is simply give it a go, don't worry about the ones that don't go quite right but keep at it and try to work out how something could be improved.

That's my tuppence worth and I look forward to seeing your entries in the competitions.

All the best

Mark


Skip said:

We will be playing combo games with German/Soviet/British/US forces so a generic European look will work.

OK, no prob.

First: Do you need houses with interiors? If your games use units that are stands of minis, no. If your games use individual minis or small squads as units, then possibly.

If yes, your best bet is foamcore. Spend 10 minutes teaching yourself to rabbet foamcore and your house models will instantly take on an expert look. There is a new article on house making by Pijlie here and you can get the basic technique; just limit yourself to one story and don't add the half-timbering in Piljie's examples. Look at photos of WWII era European houses to get ideas for what you want your houses to look like.

Once you have a foamcore house shell, detail the exterior with wood bits (matchsticks, balsa, etc); add window frames, sills, and shutters, door jambs and doors, and all the rest of that kind of stuff. Then do the interior; add walls, furniture, and whatever else you want in there keeping in mind that you'll need to leave room for minis to move through. Paint everything.

Make the roof. You can shingle it like the examples in Piljie's article, you can thatch it with teddy bear fur or raffia, or you can tile it with pasta cut in half lengthwise. Add a chimney, paint the whole thing, then drop the roof onto the house. Don't glue it down; you need to be able to access the interior.

Then just make a base, stick the house on it, and landscape the base. Flock, trees, bushes, weeds, fence (or not) blah blah blah do whatever.

----

If you don't need interiors, you can use all the same techniques, just don't bother with the interior and go ahead and permanently attach the roof.
If you don't need interiors AND you're building for a scale smaller than "heroic 28mm", you can make houses out of solid blocks of foam (or wood or whatever). My personal technique for 1/72 and below is procure 2" or thicker foam, cut out house shape, paint, flock roof with tea, add doors and windows (or paper printouts of doors and windows if I am working REALLY small). Done. My AWI table is all this technique. I used to have photos of these "speed houses" on TG, but they have been purged. A few can be seen in the background here:

Solid foam houses in background on a 1/72 AWI table

The haystack in the foreground is also made from solid foam. So if you need haystacks, well, there you go. Cut basic shape, texture with "thatching tool" (4 or 5 #11 X-acto blades taped together), and paint. A cake walk.


Thanks for the reply's and the links.

I play Flames of War (15mm) and I am just starting to play Bolt Action (28mm). I really want to contribute some working terrain to the 28mm table. A friend just built a manor house that is great; I am hoping for a reasonable model that doesn't look like a four year old built it for my first attempt Smile

I have some vehicles and about 30 figures on the table that need finished over the next week or two; once they are done I will dive in and try for my first build. I want to do either store, café or some other small building that may have been found in France in the 40's. A removable or missing roof is a must. Interior details aren't as important as an aesthetically pleasing overall finish.

I did a forum search and didn't have any luck with a search for rabbet cutting foam board but I found some articles via Google and have a pretty good idea on what to do.

I am guessing that the only way to cut the shapes and door/window openings is with a sharp knife?

Thanks again,

Skip


Skip said:

I am guessing that the only way to cut the shapes and door/window openings is with a sharp knife

Yep. Stock up on X-acto blades and get a cork-backed steel ruler.

Skip said:

I want to do either store, café or some other small building that may have been found in France in the 40's.

Great idea. Start with a floor plan, then cut some walls from foamcore and go from there. Doesn't have to be complicated, it can just be a box. Find ideas in period photographs.


Skip said:

I did a forum search and didn't have any luck with a search for rabbet cutting foam board but I found some articles via Google and have a pretty good idea on what to do.

I am guessing that the only way to cut the shapes and door/window openings is with a sharp knife?

Thanks again,

Skip

The Rabbit Joint for Foam Core:

http://www.terragenesis.co.uk/competitions/entry.php?id=573

X-acto knifes are the way to go, and you'll want a lot of spare blades.

I would recommend removable roofs for both Flames of War and Bolt Action. Or better yet, heavily damaged buildings with sort-of intact walls but no roof. Flames has specific rules regarding buildings and openings, requiring four walls I'd cut through the foam core to make windows you can trace LoS.

I'd make a few walls about 3/4"/20mm tall. These will be full size walls to block LoS in Flames and waist-high walls for Bolt Action. I always use 6"x6" bases for storage reasons, so

  • I always play my building models on bases for strength.
  • I make my buildings 1 1/4" tall for 15mm, mostly because that is how thick my ruler is, so no real measuring.
  • I make my 15mm doors 20mm tall and 10mm wide.
  • I make my 15mm windows 10mm x 10mm so they line up with the top of the door.
  • I do nothing to model the interior aside from cutting doors and windows in 15mm. It 28mm, I cut 1" squares of cerial boxes, roll them for texture, and place them down as a 1" grid. This is more for D&D than bolt action.

Some Ideas:

Alabastero's Italian Village

Here is some of my work for Flames of War:

Roads and rivers, but to fill in the gaps, I added a few desert buildings.
my 15mm desert terrain

Sicilian Village, also mine. I printed the windows, glued them to paper card, glued the window to the building. I then cut the perimiter of the window with an Xacto knife (only half-way through), and then pushed the window into the foamcore to recess the window. Very easy for how good it looks if I say so myself.
My Sicilian Village


Asdel:

Thank you for the links and the information. I love the idea of a small contained village like that.

I have been painting 28mm infantry non stop for three weeks now trying to get an army on the board; I am taking a break next week and painting some armor for fun.

Once that if finished up I think I am going to try a 28mm "contained" village like yours. I would prefer to make it so that it fits in in a rural section of France or Germany.

If 1 1/4" is waist high on 28mm would a four inch high single story look ok? Is that pushing the height too much? Would the printed windows work for 28mm scale or would they be too noticeable at that? I was thinking of cutting out the windows/doors and using some tooth picks and balsa wood to make frames and doors.

Thanks again to all of you for the motivation. I now feel I can do this, I am just not sure that my ability will cooperate.

Skip


Skip said:

If 1 1/4" is waist high on 28mm would a four inch high single story look ok?

That doesn't seem right.

How can 1.25" be "waist high" for a 28mm figure? One and a quarter inches equals 31.75 mm - that's more than the figure is tall. If a 28mm miniature is 28mm tall, and a human's waist is at about half his height, then waist-high should be about 14mm on a 28mm model. For 31.75 (1 1/4") to be waist-high, the model would have to be about 62mm tall. Even the worst 28mm Heroic miniatures aren't 62mm tall.

In turn, a four inch story is about 100mm, which is about 3 times the height of the miniature. Now take a look at the room you are in right now; is the ceiling three times your height from the floor? If yes, you are in a cathedral or gymnasium. If you are in a house, that distance is between 8 and 10 feet, or about one and a half times your height, not three.

Skip, if you're going to build to scale the empirical way, use yourself and your surroundings as guides as in the above example. If you need to cut a door opening, don't think in units like inches or millimeters, use body lengths and check your own door for comparison. The door to this room I am in now is about "one head" taller than I am, so if I was making a door in a model house, I'd make it one head height taller than one of the figures that needed to pass through it. Works for any scale since standard units are not used.


Skip said:

Asdel:
Once that if finished up I think I am going to try a 28mm "contained" village like yours. I would prefer to make it so that it fits in in a rural section of France or Germany.

If 1 1/4" is waist high on 28mm would a four inch high single story look ok? Is that pushing the height too much? Would the printed windows work for 28mm scale or would they be too noticeable at that? I was thinking of cutting out the windows/doors and using some tooth picks and balsa wood to make frames and doors.

Thanks again to all of you for the motivation. I now feel I can do this, I am just not sure that my ability will cooperate.

Skip

I think windows at 28mm would be OK. The church in my piece has a stained glass window about 1" in diameter and it looks fair. You can also buy laser-cut windows and insert them into your own project. Andy, the owner of TerraGenesis, sells them, for example.

I think 1 1/4" would be too tall for waste-high on 28mm. I used 1 1/4 inches at 15mm mostly because it happens to be easy to cut and all my 15mm models are on bases, which adds a more than 1/8th inch to their hight.

1 1/4" would look like close to a tall wall, maybe 6' tall. Once again, the bases on models (1/8th inch usually), force us to use slightly taller walls than scale might suggest. I'd use 3/4" for waist high and 1 1/2 for a full wall. I'd rather know it unambiguously blocks line of sight.

Please post something in the work-in-progress thread.


Skip said:

I play with two great fellows that are terrain wizards but my stuff usually looks like my 9 year old made it.

You could ask your two friends if they could also show/tell you how to do some things especially if you can physically hold and touch what they have made - The advice given here is brilliant, but nothing beats having actual real people talking you though and helping you improve your techniques.


Skip said:

Thanks for the reply's and the links.

I play Flames of War (15mm) and I am just starting to play Bolt Action (28mm). I really want to contribute some working terrain to the 28mm table. A friend just built a manor house that is great; I am hoping for a reasonable model that doesn't look like a four year old built it for my first attempt Smile

I have some vehicles and about 30 figures on the table that need finished over the next week or two; once they are done I will dive in and try for my first build. I want to do either store, café or some other small building that may have been found in France in the 40's. A removable or missing roof is a must. Interior details aren't as important as an aesthetically pleasing overall finish.

I did a forum search and didn't have any luck with a search for rabbet cutting foam board but I found some articles via Google and have a pretty good idea on what to do.

I am guessing that the only way to cut the shapes and door/window openings is with a sharp knife?

Thanks again,

Skip

Skip,
Removable roofs are a pain, both to build and keep up with.

I have a better idea: give each building a removable floor.

The foot print (floor plan) of each building always stays on the tabletop.
The whole building lifts off when it is time to put figures 'inside'.
The whole building is sturdy; the roof alone is apt to be flimsy.
Later you can build a ruined building drop-on that can be used to replace the intact version after an artillery battery has spoken.


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