Friday, 4 March 2016

Terrain Tutorial: Build your own village

Nothing could be simpler than knocking up an adobe village. Even better, provided you minimise the detailing, they're suitable for all sorts of locations: the Middle East, Mexico and the south-easterly portions of the USA, even the desert planet Tatooine.

Long pins
PVA glue
Balsa wood
Sharp knife
Suitable paints
Paintbrushes, including a quite large one (a 1" brush is a good size)

Decide how large you want your buildings to be. I decided to give most of mine a 3" (76mm) by 3" footprint on the table, and then make a few slightly larger ones for variety. I drew some 1:1 plans on an A4 pad (Fig. 1) and set to work. I carved out all the side pieces (leaving out the roofs for now), including doors, which I decided would be an inch (25mm) wide and an inch and a half (38mm) high. Owing to the size of the buildings, I elected to have windows on doors on different walls. I also marked out one inch from the top of the walls so I could place the roof there later (Figs. 2-4). After construction, I ran across another tutorial which recommended carving out a 5mm strip at the end of the wall, allowing pieces to abut very tidily. I have since tried it and commend it to you. It means less work when applying filler to hide the joins later.

When carving out your doors and windows, do not throw away the offcuts. Retain them. Line up your corners, painting some PVA on the adjoining segments, and then pin them together. Do not worry if the pieces are of slightly different heights, but do your best to ensure that the bottoms of the walls are level so that the completed dwellings will sit flat on your table. Once the walls are pinned together, take those offcuts you saved, and pin them into three corners of every four, where they will support the floor you will add later (Figs. 5 & 6).

I chose to make two slightly larger and different buildings here to add to the character of the settlement. I gave one a 4" (102mm) long back wall, and the other a 4" (102mm) long front and 5" (127mm) long back wall. In both cases I cut a strip of 1" (25mm) wide foamcard and then cut it into pieces to form an external staircase. I recommend decreasing the strips of steps as they are stacked by 1/4" (6mm) for a good appearance, e.g. if the lowest strip was 76mm long, the second should be 70mm, and so on. As before, apply PVA glue and secure the pieces with pins (Figs.7 & 8).

Let everything dry overnight, then remove the pins. Twist them through a complete circle in order to break the glue's hold on them so you can remove them easily. Round off the sharp edges of the buildings with a sharp knife. Create some damaged sections for verisimilitude. Remove some of the paper covering, and carve bricks into the exposed foam. Make some roofs to fit the buildings, and carve a 20mm by 20mm square close to one corner unless the building has an external staircase. As before, glue and pin in place, leave to dry, and remove the pins when dry (Figs. 9-11).

Mark on balsa sheet your doors, windows. Remember to make them large enough to overlap the door-frames and windows. Using a ruler and pencil, score them to suggest planking (you may need to repeat this after staining), then dye them with diluted paints. This gives an initial suggestion that the wood is sun-bleached (Fig. 12). I chose to stain each building's wood differently. Do not worry if some pieces are more strongly stained than others as it is what happens in reality. Once dry drybrush with a colour to suggest the wood is weather-beaten. I used a cream.

Mix up some filler and apply it with the large brush across the building to provide some texture, taking care not to obscure the brick detail you have scribed in place. Once this has dried, repeat the procedure, applying the filler only on the pieces of wall not scribed with brickwork. Wait for this to dry, then paint the buildings in your choice of colours. I mixed a brown with a cream, and used that for my base coat. I applied a heavy drybrush of cream over that, and a final lighter drybrush of white. Some of the filler had dripped into the buildings, so I carefully removed that at that point. Then I applied superglue around the insides of the doorways, windows and roof hatches, and glued the differently stained and drybrushed woods in place.

And you're done! Enjoy your village. Note in Figs. 9-11 the larger building with the domed roof. Look out for a feature on that building shortly. The general principles are similar to these buildings.

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