Not every stone circle is a gigantic trilithon monument like Stonehenge. Some of them might be barely recognizable as stone circles, in fact, until you realize that plants grown in strange patterns around the stones, or you wander past on certain very specific nights of the year…
This little project started out as a way to use up leftover putty; whenever I had excess greenstuff or Milliput I’d squish it into a rough stone shape and let it dry on one corner of my bench. This weekend I wanted a quick project as a distraction, so I grabbed four of these stones, hot-glued them to a scrap CD, and added sand. That got left to dry overnight, then I basecoated it dark brown, let that dry a few hours, and drybrushed the sand to bring up the texture with various shades of pale brown, tan, and very pale grey.
The stones got a black basecoat, the drybrushed with various shades of grey, tan, and finally white.
The flocked areas are my usual mix of ground foam and static grass, and then I added various tufts from Army Painter and the flowers from Rain City Hobbies. The flowers form a ring around the outside of the stones, and I kept the foliage inside the stones to a minimum.
My ongoing English Civil War project might well shade over into some sort of gunpowder fantasy version of the ECW or TYW, in which case the circle will be right at home, and in the meantime it can add a little touch of strangeness to some lonely corner of my tabletops… who meets in the centre of this flower’d circle, with it’s well-trodden paths? Be ye for King, Parliament… or some far older Power?!
Much chaos in my non-gaming life, so time and brainpower to actually paint is kind of hard to come by, but this weekend I sat down and organized my pike & shot foot figures for Pikeman’s Lament and other English Civil War or Thirty Year’s War gaming.
I now have exactly 60 figures assembled, based, and in progress for this project; I know it’s exactly 60 because the 4Ground 25mm bases I’m using come in batches of 60 and I just finished the first batch of two that I’ve bought!
Starting from the far left, there’s a unit of musketeers in blue uniforms, then a pike unit in blue (on the close-order base from Warbases). To the right off the back edge of the cutting mat is another dozen musketeers, this time in green. In front of them is six foot characters/officers/leaders and one mounted officer, and on the skirmish base to the right is the first six forlorn hope firelock musketeers. Finally in the front right corner is another dozen pikemen, in green uniforms. All the figures are from the Warlord Games Pike & Shotte range, all plastic from their infantry regiment box. This is one full infantry regiment box plus a couple of extra sprues picked up separately, except for the firelock/forlorn hope figures who are the first of the Forlorn Hope/Firelock Storming Party box I’ve assembled.
The blue pikes are closest to being done, and a few of the green musketeers got finished as part of LPL11 recently. Most of the bare grey plastic figures were assembled just this weekend to fill out various units and add some more leader/officer/character figures to fill out some units.
Unassembled, I’ve got another 14 musketeers, enough for a second full unit of “blue” musketeers. That will give me a “full” pike and shot unit of 2:1 shot:pike ratio, which will look good on the table! There’s also another 12 firelock musketeers, and a dozen cuirassier heavy cavalry. Finally I’ve got another dozen regular cavalry fully assembled but not shown above; six of them are fully painted and the other six have been almost finished for… about four years now, or maybe longer…
The four new officer/character figures are made with arms from the Warlord plastic pike & shot infantry command sprue, and a mix of pikeman bodies and bodies from the command sprue. The two on the left are pike bodies; the two on the right are command sprue bodies. The two completely finished and based figures in back alongside the mounted officer are also made the same way, with two spare pike bodies. I have more command or character type figures than I’m ever likely to need for Pikeman’s Lament, but they’re fun to assemble and there’s lots of single-figure small skirmish games out there like Pulp Alley that I could see tweaking for an ECW setting!
As soon as I saw how the figure on the far right came together I thought about cutting the head of the halberd off and turning it into a magic-user’s staff of some sort! Hmmm, mix and match the fantasy Dragon Rampant with Pikeman’s Lament? Dragon’s Lament? Pikeman Rampant? The two games use the same basic core rules, so it might be possible, and gunpowder/Renaissance fantasy (vs more standard medieval fantasy) has always been an interest of mine!
I haven’t actually sat down with the Pikeman’s Lament rules to put together some companies, but the figures assembled and based here are enough for a full size 24pt force with some different build options. I’m going to try to get one or two of the almost-finished units actually pushed through to completion this week, and hopefully get a PL game of some sort in next Sunday, but we shall see…
Buttresses and a double row of foundation stonework have been added with pink styrofoam insulation cut with a new Xacto knife. I used scrap card to create a small jig to keep the angle of the front of the buttresses the same across the fourteen buttresses around the outside of the church. The buttresses are roughly a quarter inch wide, two inches tall, and about half an inch deep at the base of each.
The front door is card with planks scored into it, with more light card for the hinges and handles. The door arch is more pink styrofoam. Inside the church I’ve added an interior wall of 1/16th matt board on the tower end to hide the tabs where the tower walls slot into the end wall. That’s had some added detail with matt board and card, and the door was done with offcuts of coffee stir stick wood and card.
All of the styrofoam was glued down then carved and textured after the glue had dried; I used a ball of tin foil to add a stone texture, then my usual knife-and-pencil stone carving technique.
Priming & Painting
The whole building got a coat of black paint as primer. Rather than the default grey stone that I always seem to use I took some inspiration from churches I’ve seen online from Shropshire county in England and decided to do mostly reddish stone with some grey stone used as accents, similar to the Cound Church of St Peter
I started with brown paint drybrushed heavily on, then a fairly light grey paint, and finally a drybrush of red oxide/burnt umber. I’ve done a bit of edge highlighting so far, but will do more and might yet do another paler drybrush over the whole building to pop some more details out.
The capping stones on each buttress were done in dark grey then drybrushed a paler grey, as was the arch around the main door. I might yet do more stones in grey, just to add some variation to the building. I also glued the porch walls and front down, and added more strips of styrofoam for the foundation of the porch.
Both the main roof and the porch roof got covered in Warbases’ very nice lasercut slate tiles and primed black like the rest of the building. So far the main roof is painted more or less the same as the rest of the building, with an extra grey drybrush to pop the texture a bit more and make it look a bit different from the walls.
The porch comes with MDF panels for the roof, but they look quite thick so I cut a strip of light card the same size, folded it, and glued it into place. Before gluing the roof down I added strips of card against the stone wall to hide the slots where the MDF roof panels should slot in; they’ll be painted to look like lead flashing eventually. As mentioned, the porch roof got more of the Warbases lasercut slate tiles, and will get bargeboards on the front edges eventually to hide the edges of the slate.
Up on the roof of the tower I doubled the thickness of the walls with matt board, then put down a wooden floor using styrene plank sheet, with a roof hatch from a bit more styrene. The upper edges of the walls got a bit of GW Liquid Greenstuff to help disguise the line between the MDF wall and the matt board additions, and painting is in progress.
Still To Do…
The outside edges of the base has a layer of fine scenery grit – coarse sand – glued down and mostly painted black; I’ll paint it up dark brown with a bit of a drybrush, then put various kinds of flock and turf around.
The porch still needs work, mostly paint, and a bit of detailing on the roof. The tower roof also needs painting, and I’m not entirely happy with the colours on the main roof.
Inside is still the big job. The Warbases kit comes with solid lasercut windows that look good from the outside but will make the accessible interior look a bit odd. I might use square grid plastic mesh – the same stuff you use in screen doors – to fill the windows, with inside walls of more matt board, like I did with the inside of the wall between the tower and church proper. Still, with the exterior done including scenic groundwork I’ll be happy to put the church on the table and put finishing the interior off for a bit!
Not much activity on the wargaming front in the last couple weeks, for a variety of mostly-irritating reasons, but I have made a bit of progress on the Warbases church I first mentioned in a post a few weeks back.
This is a nicely proportioned building, not so big as to dominate the table, and it’s of a basic design that can literally be found all over the world, anywhere Europeans (especially the Brits) hung out long enough to build churches. You could assemble the basic church in just a few minutes, paint it up quickly, and have a solid and respectable piece of wargaming terrain to use for years. Inspired by the really nicely upgraded example shown on the Warbases website, though, I’ve decided to do some extra detailing and really make this building pop.
I started by assembling the tower, then glued it and the floor to a piece of matt board roughly 11″ long by 7″ wide. I used light card to put flagstones on the floor, with another piece of mattboard at one end of the floor to raise the altar just a bit. The altar itself is more bits of matt board assembled into a rectangle about 1″ wide and half an inch deep. The altar got a coat of GW Liquid Greenstuff for texture, then painted grey with various washes, and a quick edge highlight of much lighter grey.
The floor was primed black, then heavily drybrushed with a couple of shades of brown, red oxide, and burnt umber craft paints to get a good reddish stone colour. Most of the church is going to be that colour, with grey stone trim, as a change from the default grey stone!
The entry way on the side of the church has similar flagstone laid down and will eventually be painted the same as the inside floor.
It’s kind of hard to see on the photo above but at the top of the tower I’ve added wood plank flooring from sheet styrene, a trap door in one corner (more sheet styrene), and added matt board to the inside surfaces of the crenelated tops of the walls to double the thickness and make it look more like stonework.
The roof got covered in Warbases slate tiles, sold in sheets lasercut from heavy paper (light card? Hard to say, really) with an interesting texture to it. Certainly easier than cutting my own tiles, I got the entire roof covered in just over half an hour of work!
Next up will be adding stone piers to the corners of the building from pink styrofoam, and adding some other stonework detailing with either styrofoam or greenstuff putty.
Glued down the towel thatching, slapped a coat of paint over the small stone building, added the door, and declared it done!
The towel got cut into a rough rectangle, big enough to hang an inch or so over the edges of the cardboard roof on all sides. I used a hot glue gun to glue the towel over the cardboard roof, including wrapping it around the edges and underside of the sides of the roof. This gave the roof the nice thick edge you see on a lot of thatch roofs. To fit the roof around the curve at the rear of the building I cut up to the peak of the curved part and layered the towel over itself further down, trimming a bit away so the overlap wasn’t too large.
The first layer of painting was actually a mix of paint and white glue, generously applied with a fairly large brush, with a bit of water to help move the paint around. Towel soaks liquid up like, well, towel, so expect to use more paint and more glue than you first thing you’ll need! After this mix has dried overnight it’s really solid and gamer-proof. One of the reasons I usually use a tan or off-white towel for thatch, even though I always paint over it, is that any bits of towel that don’t get painted still look reasonable, which wouldn’t be the case if I used a colourful towel &mdhas; thatch ain’t usually blue or red…
After the black paint has dried overnight I drybrushed various shades of brown and tan over the thatch, ending with a fairly bright yellow-tan colour mixed with a bit of white, applied mostly along the ridgeline and edges of the roof, just to make them pop a little. As with the base coat, don’t bother using a small brush for this, I used a 3/4″ wide cheap house painting brush for all of this work!
The stonework had also been based black. I put a few blotches of green and brown down here and there, and then drybrushed a dark grey, a pale grey, and finally a mix of pale grey and white over the stones.
I didn’t get a photo of the door, but it was done on a rectangle of light card with narrow pieces of scrap wood from coffee stir sticks, glued down with hot glue, then hit with a heavy dark wash (mostly GW Nuln Oil) so it looked like heavily weathered wood.
Stonework from styrofoam is a lot of fun and fast to do; I might do a few more stone cottages or something eventually. Maybe a ruined abbey or something suitable for pulp/English Civil War crossover gaming? We shall see!
With the farmhouse and dovecote progressing well, I wanted to move on to a few smaller buildings to the mix.
This little stone outbuilding is the first of those. It’s a few random scrap pieces of pink insulation styrofoam, hot glue, and a chunk of corrugated cardboard so far. Footprint is about 2″ wide by 3″ long, and it’s about 2.5″ tall or so.
The four wall pieces were glued together with hot glue and the curve across the back cut after everything was assembled. I didn’t get a photo before I put the cardboard roof on, but there’s another couple of bits of scrap styrofoam under it to reinforce the roof.
The gap in the front wall will get a door from scrap cardstock after the stonework is all painted up.
This one might be finished tonight, if I get time to glue the towel thatch down and slap a bit of paint around. It’s nice to have some quick little projects sometimes!
When we last saw the dovecote, the halftimber detailing on the walls was done, the roof was just started, and it lacked paint.
Here’s the current state of the beast!
The roof got cardboard tiles to look like slate on both the main roof and the top of the tower. The capping along the ridges on the main roof is strips of light card, while for the tower roof I used greenstuff putty for the ridge caps and the little finial decoration right at the peak.
I also used a bit of greenstuff to add a ring handle to the door, and some details to the hinges.
The whole thing has been primed black, and then the wall panels between the timbers got a coat of GW Liquid Greenstuff to add some extra texture to those areas.
I’ve also started work on a large farmhouse, two stories with a thatch roof planned for it. More photos of that soon, it’s coming along nicely and I suspect I’ll paint both buildings at the same time.
I’ve had people ask about plans for these buildings. I rarely make formal plans for buildings in a way that would be useful to other people, to be honest! For the dovecote I started with the article in WS&S #87 and tweaked things slightly; the farmhouse is entirely out of my head, starting with a basic idea of how large I wanted the building to be (about 5″ by 3″, as it happens) and the basic features I wanted. I have spent some time looking at photos and sketches of the real thing; the post I wrote a few years ago on half-timber architecture in the Internet Archive is still useful, as is Google Image Search for terms like “17th Century English farmhouse” and similar. A lot of buildings like this, especially rural or village buildings, could be pretty wonky and random, so it’s kind of hard to get things wrong! If in doubt, just chuck a coat of plaster over it, like real builders have been known to do!
As I mentioned in my last post about the things I brought home from Trumpeter Salute, one of them was a copy of Issue #87 of Wargames, Soldiers, and Strategy, their ECW special. One of the articles in there was by Tony Harwood, also known as Dampfpanzerwagon around the internet, including on the Lead Adventure Forum.
Wanting more buildings suitable for an English Civil War game (and possibly for early 20th C pulp games set in the English countryside!) I decided to build my own version of Tony’s dovecote. It’s a great building for wargaming, having a minimal footprint but nice presence because of it’s height.
My version of Tony’s dovecote has walls 60mm wide and a total footprint, including minimal base, of about 65mm by 65mm. It’s 120mm (12cm) to the tops of the walls. I haven’t actually measured to the top of the roof, but it’s somewhere around 20cm or so total height.
The walls and base are 1/16th” matt board (picture framing card). The stone foundation is thin (about 1/8th” or so) styrofoam insulation, carved with an Xacto blade and pencil. The half-timbering is all wooden coffee stir sticks, most of them split lengthwise to make narrower beams.
The half-timbering took a couple of hours all told, done in bits and pieces in between household chores on a Saturday. Do the big vertical corner beams first, then the horizontals, then the infill verticals or diagonals. The pattern of the half timbering is slightly different on all four walls, which seems pretty typical of this sort of Medieval/Renaissance building!
The central “tower” on the roof is more 1/16th matt board, 20mm a side. The sloping pieces of the main roof are lighter card, cut to fit by trial and error. The tower roof is a scrap of styrofoam insulation, cut with a fresh Xacto blade into a four-side pyramid. All eight roof surfaces will get “slate” tiles from medium weight card, and the top of the tower will get some basic detailing from card as well.
For texture in the panels between the timbers, Tony uses air drying clay in his original dovecote. Lacking air drying clay, I’m trying out stippling a fairly heavy coat of white glue over the card. I’ll slap some paint over it soon and see how it looks; the white glue I’m using currently dries very glossy which makes it hard to see how much texture I’m actually getting.
I’d gotten most of the painting done on the building six years ago, then moved on to other projects as the 16th C ECW/TYW gaming failed to grab my attention. The barn has floated around the edges of my painting bench, almost but not quite finished, ever since.
Earlier this week I was off sick and needed something sedentary and easy to do, so I pulled the barn out and started adding doors, some final paint touchups, and flocking and terrain around the outside of the walls. I’d originally planned, long ago, to do hinged arched doors on the big front doorway of the barn, but decided that six years of not figuring out how to do that in a wargamer-proof way was long enough and have gone with simple closed doors across the back of the arch!
Here’s what it looked like back in June 2011:
Here, all finished and detailed, is the barn in April 2017!
The big front door is wooden coffee stir stick planks over an offcut of picture framing card (matt board), cut to size, and then roughed up with sandpaper, an Xacto knife, and a razor saw. The back door is just card, with planks scored into it with the back of an Xacto knife. The hinges on both are scraps of light card painted with Tarnished Steel. Both doors got all-over washes with several different colours of wash, including green on the front door to stain the wood.
The roof is towel thatch (this was the first thatch building I’d ever done!) with thin foam for the stonework on the bottom half of the walls. The greenery is a mix from all over, including the nice red flowers from Rain City Hobbies over in Vancouver.
For more details on building the barn, check the two 2011 articles I linked to right up in the first paragraph of this post, there’s lots of detail there.
Nice to finally get this building done and dusted after nearly six years of three-quarters finished limbo! Now I need to consider other buildings for an English Civil War or Thirty Years War hamlet… some cottages, maybe a version of the interesting dove cote seen in the ECW edition of WS&S I picked up at Trumpeter Salute. We shall see!