Alright I’m back on the miniatures train choo choo! This was spurred by a recent trip to Philly to attend the board gaming convention Pax Unplugged where I had a chance to play some really cool miniature games including “Hail of Fire” by Retro Boom. In addition my housemate Zach Urtes and his beau got bit hard by the miniature painting bug and my house is now littered with tiny figures that shockingly don’t belong to me!
I thought I would ease back in with a terrain project. I love making miniature terrain because it’s much more forgiving than painting a hero mini that someone is going to inspect ever micrometer of. The example I used was that if you misplace a brush stroke while working on a face someone will notice, but if you’re painting literal dirt on the literal ground nobody’s going to scrutinize that.
So the terrain I build is generally for tabletop war games or board games. On the whole most of the miniatures I own fall into the category of “28mm” scale. What does that mean? Nothing. Generally it’s accepted that 28mm will be the height of a character, but it varies wildly. For my purposes I treat this as 1:60th scale or more simply 1.5cm in the game equals 1 meter in the real world.
But what was I going to make? I had a lot of ideas for new projects but something had been lingering. A family friend of mine Bougie Hopkins who worked for years with my mother had heard of my interest in miniatures (probably through my father who has set aside a whole room in my childhood home just for trains)
She bought me a little sheet metal building that has a hinged roof panel so presumably you can store things inside of it, I think candles was the intended use, which would honestly be cool, maybe I’ll get those LED tea lights.
THANK YOU BOUGIE! You made this project possible!!
I don’t have any picture of the original structure but it was basically an aluminum box with the windows cut out and the roof in place. I decided to spruce up the metal box with one of my favorite building facade designs which I thought would fix nicely in a fantasy setting while also still being at home in a contemporary city/town. This design is sometimes called “Timber Framing” or “Tudor Style”.
For the framing I am using some 3mm or 1/8″ ‘Sintra’ aka foamed PVC sheet. It cuts very easily with a knife and I had some off-cuts lying around from a project at work last year.
Here you can see the process which was to draw out the design in sharpie right on the sides of the house, then scuff up the areas where the sintra was getting glued down otherwise it wouldn’t adhere (Believe me I tried). I am gluing these parts on with CA (cyanoacrylate glue) aka “Super Glue” or “Crazy Glue”.
All the framing took a couple of hours mostly to trim the pieces to fit nicely in the corners. It was then taken to the spraybooth and given a coat of matte primer, something that I know works well on metal and plastic is Rustoleum Camoflage. The Rustoleum is also very very matte which I prefer for all my miniatures projects. The lack of a gloss finish makes them seem less like toys.
I took some suggestions for what else the house should have and built it a little storm cellar door. I think this was a really nice suggestion that made the house seem more grounded and less just plopped down on some terrain.
Speaking of plopped down, here is the base for the house! The house isn’t glued down yet but we’re starting to get a feel for how this will look when it’s finished. The sand is just cheap hardware store sand held down to the base with white glue. If you attempt this don’t make the mistake I did masonite or hardboard will warp very badly when using white glue directly on it. This can be prevented in by applying a layer of primer or gesso the top AND BOTTOM of your board before applying glue. It also couldn’t hurt to put down a ground color before gluing the sand.
Once again separated from the base the house got a coat of white primer over the green just to bring up some of the tones. Below we can see the house after it has been airbrushed with a brown I love working with the airbrush it really brings up the level of quality I am able to achieve quickly.
At this stage I realized I made a major mistake, instead of painting the timber brown and then masking the timber, I should have painted the house white and then masked off the house! Ugh, it took me the better part of two whole days to mask off every little beam I had installed. Ya live and ya learn
Here’s the front:
After the masking was all done the house got a fresh coat of white primer with a satin white over top of it. Pull the tape off and BAM looks like an awesome crisp new house on the prairie. But we don’t want a new house, we want some old, maybe abandoned, weathered old husk, so I applied some brown washes to it, some grey washes, did some highlighting on the timber…. and here’s the results:
Foam flocking was added as well as some larger foam foliage in order to give the house a feeling of being abandoned or overgrown. I also boarded up a few of the windows to drive this point home.
It is an amazing coincidence how well this worked in scale with the miniatures I use, there is no way that was part of the initial design and fabrication of the building.
I love how this thing turned out and now all it needs is some extras, maybe some dilapidated trees, maybe a shallow fountain overgrown with algae, time will tell how it gets used.