Last week I posted pictures , painted and unpainted, of this small building. I had broadcast to everyone how I had built the building from cheap material, and there was some interest in how I went about the actual construction.
Last night I built my second building. As you can see, it’s a two-storey affair with window dressings and a front porch. All of these buildings, although generic to some degree, are being built for the Western game Legends of the Old West. I’m picturing a non-spaghetti Western setting – maybe Tennessee, Arkansas, or Kentucky. For that matter, we may go farther north – the Dakotas, Wyoming, or Montana.
This particular building will represent a relatively luxurious home in a frontier town. As I was building, I was imagining some well-to-do citizen; perhaps the local Justice of the Peace, the town doctor, or a wealthy rancher.
But enough babble – let’s get down to business.
The first thing I did was to make thick card templates in anticipation of future projects. I plan on making numerous buildings, so it only made sense to have sturdy templates on hand. Measuring is a time-eater, so taking the time to make accurate templates once should save time down the road.
Here they are flipped over. You’ll see the measurements are written down in centimetres for those who are interested. Also notice the door and window templates. In addition to keeping the sizes standard, they will also help me maintain uniform distances from the ground.
Part Two: Cutting out the pieces
I’m sure everyone knows how to cut card with a utility knife, but I’ll go through my method briefly anyway. The card I’m using is fairly thick, so I cut it in two steps. First I score the card by making a couple of passes with the small silver knife, using the ruler to keep the lines straight. Then, I use the heavy duty utility knife as the workhorse to finish the job. Trying to cut thick card with a small knife takes WAY too long, as I found out when working on the first building.
Last little bit of major cutting – the roof. measure the area required and add a little extra for overhang. Notice that the roof is made from one large piece, not two. After it’s been cut out, I score the middle of the roof with the small knife and ruler.
This part of the procedure can be as much or as little work as you want it to be. If you are attempting to build quickly (because you plan on building a lot of buildings), the two steps where you can save time are the details and the roof. I decided to add a few extra details to this building since it will house a wealthier citizen.
I’ve taken a shot of the wood I use to detail the windows and doorframes. I bought these craft sticks at Michael’s (so they probably cost me a fortune, I don’t remember now). I’m sure there are various packages of mixed balsa or popsicle sticks that you could acheive similar results with.
The first step for me is trying to imitate the look of clapboard or timber boards on the exterior. A lot of “how-to-build” articles show methods of using balsa strips or card strips layered as planks. commendable, and good-looking, but too labour-intensive for me. I want to build a town, not two or three buildings.
Since my card was thick, I cheated by scoring the card to look as if it was covered in wood planks. Using the ruler to guide me, I cut thin lines across the surface. No measuring required – just eyeball it. The building will look more realistic if the “planks” vary in thickness anyway.
As with the roof earlier, I use a sculpting tool to gouge out the lines. If you skip this step, the thin utility knife lines may disappear when the glue/paint undercoat is added. And if you make a mistake (i.e. the tool slips and creates a line where you didn’t want one) don’t worry. Real buildings get damaged and show signs of wear and tear.
First of all, we need to put a backing on each wall, or else we’ll be staring in through open windows at unpainted cardboard walls. I used very thin card for this – probably the thickness of a cereal box.
Lay the piece of wood in position…
Don’t worry if it’s a little large. Remember, card is not wood, so you can certainly force it into position. All my wooden accents were so snug that they stayed in place even if I turned the wall upside down and shook it.
After dryfitting the pieces for an entire wall, I coat the perimeter of the opening in glue and place everything. Don’t be afraid to make a mess. Glue will seep out and go everywhere as you force all the pieces into position. A small piece of card can be used to scoop up the excess glue when the pieces are in place.
The bottom left window sports a curtain blowing in the wind. I took a piece of thin card and softened if my rolling it up and crushing it. Then, I soaked it in watered-down glue, and curled it to shape when I glued it in place.
Tip: One common mistake made by new modellers is using too little glue. When you’re working with card and thin wood, slap it on. Remember, white glue dries clear, and when it does, it’s as hard as concrete. It will only strengthen your model.
The first thing we need is something to stand our walls on. I took a piece of thick card and drew out a base, taking into account a little overlap, the back step, and a front porch. I usually don’t use card for bases, because it has a tendancy to bow when glued. However, a building base is not covered in glue like other terrain bases, so I find it works fine.
As you would expect, the walls are stood up, with the bottoms and sides being glued. Don’t be shy with the glue. When it’s all standing and square, you can wipe the extra glue away with a small piece of card or wood. Make sure everything is square and even before you leave the glue to set.
My seven-year old son dropped in to check on me. He can’t resist a digital camera, so here I am, hard at work. After the escape of the Frankenstein monster, as well as the infrequency of dependable lightning storms, I got married and turned my attentions to making buildings from card instead of manipulating human life.
There are a few other issues to deal with before the actual paintjob gets underway. First of all, I have to fashion a chimney of some sort. Since my games will be in places where there’s winter, the house must have a chimney in order to look convincing. I’m still pondering this one.
Also, I will paint the roof with watered-down white glue and lightly sprinkle with a little sand. When this is drybrushed, it will look convincing as a tarred roof.
Thanks for reading,