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Gothic Church

by Gary James

Gothic Church (Miniatures by Mary)For a while I considered collecting an Undead army and so decided to make a suitably themed church. This photograph is a little dark but shows the overall size and style of the building.

As you will see below, the church is a basic foamcore construction that has been detailed in a Gothic style. I love the detailing of models - the tedious part is getting the basic shape together. Once I spray it black and the jumble of materials becomes uniform I really enjoy the painting and finishing.

I am making a graveyard to go with the church but I will present this as a separate project.</td>


  1. Foamcore

  2. Thick cardboard (such as picture mount card) and thin card (cereal box card)

  3. Balsa wood

  4. A small bell - for example from a cake decorating shop or a pet shop (budgie bells)

  5. PVA glue, sand, paints.

  6. Games Workshop arcane architecture: 2 Gargoyles, 4 small lattice windows.

  7. For the spires I used four inverted Christmas tree lights. You could also make spires out of thin card (in a cone shape) or balsa wood.


Making wood effect doorsBegin by making a basic 2-layer foamcore box as described in the TerraGenesis article on working with foamcore. My church is about 5 inches long by 4 inches wide. I made the basic building shape separate from the roof, so make a flat box without any gable-ends on it for the time being.

I make the door from two layers of foamcore. The doorway is cut through the outer layer. The inner layer has a planked pattern cut into it with a sharp craft knife. Just cut a wave V shape out between each plank. When glued together the two give the impression of a door.

Building up the corner towersNext build up the towers on each corner with foamcore cut and glued over the corners of the building like this. Then build the inside corners so you have a square tower. You needn't make the internal tower walls the full height of the building.

Side of church. Miniatures by Mary.The sides of my church have a double arch pattern and a central buttress. These are made from thick card stock and glued in place. Make a pattern for your arches using a compass and then use this to mark out your four arches. You might as well cut out and insert the windows at this stage too.

The widening of the towers and buttress at the bottom can be done at the end when detailing.

Now construct the basic roof shape. This is just a triangle of card for each gable end and a sheet of card for each roof slope, like this. Remember to add an overhang to the roof so it sticks out wider than the walls.

Church roof construction Cut the roof around the corner towers

You will have to cut the roof panels around your towers before you glue them to the gable ends. This is easy. Here is a closeup to show you how. The fit doesn't have to be very good because it will be covered by roof tiles and the internal corners of the tower.

The roof panels are therefore shaped like this:

Roof panel

Glue the roof panels to the gable ends, but don't glue the roof to the church yet. The towers will help to hold the roof on for the time being without gluing - in fact you could leave the roof as removable if you like. The next stage is to make the bell tower.

Bell towerThe bell tower is just a small foamcore chimney-shaped construction like this:

Construction of bell tower

Get the fit to the roof right by drawing around your roof and cutting a triangle out (that's why we don't glue the roof on yet). The closeness of fit isn't crucial - it will be masked by the roof tiles. Glue the tower in place.

Next, make the small roof section for the top of the bell tower. Cut four triangles of card or foamcore and glue them together to make a four-sided pyramid. Don't worry about the fit at the corners too much - you guessed it, they will be covered by roof tiles! Fix your bell to a square of card with thread or something and glue it inside the bell tower roof. You might want to put off gluing the bell tower roof in place until the end, so you can handle the model more easily.

Spikey bits!

All gothic churches need lots of spikey bits. These are made from thick card and used to embellish the church in various places. Make yourself enough strips of spikey bits to go around the bell tower, around the tops of the four corner towers, and along the ridge of the roof. This is how you make them:

First use a hole punch (the sort you use to put paper into a ring file) to punch a row of holes into cardboard or plasticard. Then snip out the bits between the holes to make a spikey pattern.

Making spikey bits 1 Making spikey bits 2

To get the spacing even I marked the card at 10mm intervals and slid it through the punch to each mark in turn. If you use a two hole punch beware of the second punch hole - mine lined up exactly with those made by the first punch, which I guess means that the punches are centred exactly on a multiple of 10mm apart.

Church roof detailAs seen in this photograph I added spikey bits around the tops of the corner towers, inverted spikes around the bell tower, spikes along the ridge of the church, and spikey gable-ends to the front and back of the church. The spikey gable-ends cover up the join of the roof and walls, especially if you want a removable roof. Do you see how the spikes above the door seem to stand out from the wall? That's because they do. To make the spikey gable ends, draw around your roof to get the correct triangular shape, and then punch spikes along the bottom edge. Stick some offices of card on the gable end of the roof, and then stick the spikey gable ends to the card. This lifts the spikey gable ends slightly clear of the walls and hides the join between the roof and walls.

The skull and cross-bones above the door is a plaster of Paris casting taken from the elaborate handle of a letter knife.

Rear of church with skeleton gableThe rear wall of the church has a spikey gable end as well. I have used parts from an old plastic skeleton kit to decorate the roof and wall. This picture also shows the inverted Christmas tree lights (they looked like icicles) that I used to make the corner spires. On the wall behind the skeleton you can see one or two raised blocks. These are just rectangles of cereal box card stuck on here and there. The base of each corner tower has been widened by gluing thick card around.

Tiling the roof

Church tiled roofThe roof tiling is very easy to do. First of all, make some strips of roof tiles from cereal box cardboard. Don't cut all the tiles out individually! Just cut a strip of card and then snip it along the edge to make a strip of tiles still joined at the top. Cut a corner off the occasional tile here and there. The strips are then glued onto the roof panels starting at the bottom. Overlap each strip with the next, and offset each one slightly so that the tiles overlap each other. You may have to patch around awkward bits with individual tiles. When the glue has dried bend the tiles up here and there so they do not look too even.

The bell tower roof is tiled in the same way. The corner tiles are individual tiles glued on so they overlap each other. The bell tower roof is finished with a small pyramid of card.

Details, painting and finishing

I fixed the gargoyles to the bell tower on little balsa wood shelves. The bell tower roof is supported by four balsa wood legs.

The walls of the model were coated with PVA and sand and when dry the whole model was sprayed black. The walls were then dry-brushed with dark and then lighter grey. Because the model is so dark features have to be highlighted around the edges with quite a light grey if you want the (I think quite elegant!) shape of your church to show up on the gaming table. Highlight the corners of the towers, the arches, the raised blocks and the buttress.

The roof was painted very dark grey/blue and then highlighted by dry-brushing to pick out the roof tiles.

Church doorwayThe door was painted with PVA glue to get a grain pattern and when dry painted in Bestial brown and drawbridge with light brown. Cardboard hinges were added. I glued some card pieces around the door to look like heavy stone blocks.

And that's it! The model may look complicated but it is just a foamcore box worked up with four towers and a roof. Have a go at it and tell me how you get on.

Here is another example of a gothic church sent to me by Voncross:

Gothic Church

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