As I have currently nothing on my painting table, I have decided to start making some terrain for godslayer which fits in with the theme of my war bands. So Firstly I am going with some bronze age round houses. These could be used for other games as well as its a pretty traditional style, I will go through step by step how I did it and what things you will need. I will point out that this is the first time I have tried making these so its also experimentation, but if i do say so myself works out really well. If you are a minor you will need an adult to help with a lot of the stages so please do not attempt this on your own as there are sharp tools, glues and paints involved.
list of resources needed.
MDF or some sort of wood board, I used 3mm thick MDF. Plastic card could be used as well but watch out for it warping out of shape.
Cocktail sticks, I used wooden ones but plastic ones might work just wouldn’t have the wood look.
Natural corn stalks , I got these from an old traditional corn broom I have at home.
Sisal Rope, Mine I got from an old cat scratching pole.
Sewing thread, any color will do.
Cardboard, thin stuff but not too thin, slightly thicker then a cereal box cardboard is fine.
Any odds and ends you fancy for detailing.
Spray paint base color , I used army painters brown leather.
Other paints for painting it, I used vallejo paints.
Flock, sand, basically normal things you use to base your models.
Saw and some sort of clamp with solid surface to saw on.
Small Drill and drill bit, I used my pinning drill with a large pinning drill bit.
A Bradawl or some tool to make a small hole.
PVA glue, sometimes i use PVA and water mix, so you also need a bowl/palette to mix it in.
Scissors or snips
Sandpaper, smaller the grain the better.
Pencil/pen, tape measure and also a protractor.
Time and patience, this is not a quick job by any means but is well worth it to have a great terrain piece.
Step 1- getting the base made.
Firstly take your Wood board and measure out a circle of roughly 8cm diameter using your pencil and protractor, do this as many times as you want huts and anything else you require it for. At the same time i made shapes for rock bases, but you could make ones for walls or anything else to use up the gaps in the wood between hut bases.
Then using your saw and clamp, saw around the circle shape you have marked out carefully and sand the circle so there are no rough edges left. You don’t want any splinters when moving it around the gaming board.
Step 2- Raising your supports
Taking up your pencil and protractor again, mark out a 7cm diameter circle on the base (best to use the previous centre hole from when you originally marked out the base circle.)
on that 7cm circle mark out a doorway , as big or small as you like but I made it 3cm wide. Then have two small 1cm lines coming from either side of the doorway towards the outside of the base (these form mini fences from the doorway and where common in houses of this type but not always present and so is an optional stage.) Once that is done mark out at roughly 1cm gaps around the circle small series of dots starting at the doorframe and mini fence, these will be where the posts of the huts will be.
Right in the centre, mark out a 2cm diameter circle and again mark out roughly 1 cm apart dots on that circle, this circle is your supporting poles for the roof. Now comes the cocktail stick part of the operation, you will need a lot for this stage so just take your time and it will be fine. Take up your bradawl or other sharp tool and make a small hole in each of the dots on your base, this is to prevent the drill from slipping around the base when your attempting to drill. I suggest using a drill bit that is the same size as your cocktail sticks in diameter because if its too loose they will just fall over when your doing your wattle and too tight and they can’t fit in the holes. Its worth trying different drill bits to make sure you get the most snug fit you can. Then its just a matter of drilling all your dots, I would suggest drilling almost all the way through the wood but not actually going right through, while you can I found it best to not actually totally drill through so the base on the underside remained flat.
Taking up your cocktail sticks for the inner circle you need almost the full length so just snip off one of the sharp ends of each stick leaving the sharp end on the other. Cut one for each inner circle hole, then dab some PVA glue on the flat snipped end and put it in the hole, a twisting motion at this stage will help the cocktail stick move all the way down your drilled hole, repeat this for all the inner circle holes. For the exterior wall the cocktail sticks need to be about 4cm tall so simply cutting them down the middle gives you two the perfect size (assuming of course that your cocktail sticks are 8cm long in the first place,) cut enough of these for all your exterior wall holes but leave the ones which are the holes for the door frame and mini fence as you need different sizes for these. For these I used a 6cm tall cocktail stick sections for the door frame’s and 2cm tall cocktail stick sections for the mini fence. Again make sure to leave one sharp end intact as it is important later on and makes life a lot easier, then glue in place all your exterior wall sticks including the doorframe’s and mini fence ones, the posts need to be leaned ever so slightly towards the centre to give the wall a small inward slope. Then set aside the project for all the glue to dry, if you try to advance to the next stage without your glue being dry then the wattle can pull down your cocktail stick poles.
Step 3- Wattling
This step takes time,patience and is quite frankly not the most exciting step but once you start getting the wall forming the whole building really is taking shape. Firstly cut off lengths of your Natural corn stalks of varying thickness, I suggest starting at the doorframe as this acts as a good securing point, use a flexible piece of corn and wrap it around the mini fence pole then doorframe post and then weave it back and forth between the exterior wall posts, try to keep it as tight but not too tight that it pushes the posts out of their holes, keep weaving it back and forth till you reach the end of that piece of corn stalk, then take up another and start weaving that back and forth from that point, do this till you get round to the other door frame post and mini fence post. Starting a second layer begin the weaving back and forth once more but weaving in the opposite direction between the posts so a post that the first time you went round the outside of it, now on the second layer go round the inside of it. This back and forth weaving creates the wattle and a very secure wall, keep weaving back and forth till you reach the end of that layer, then start again on the third layer doing the same process as the first layer. You will be grateful for leaving the sharp ends of the cocktail sticks on at this stage as they aid in sliding the wattle into place.
Over time this method will produce natural areas of your wall which are higher then others due to the varying thickness of the corn stalks so if this happens you can add in an extra section or two of stalk in the lower parts, again weaving back and forth, just to raise the level back to the rest of the wall. I also used a tool to push down the layers from time to time making them bunch up a little giving a more solid wall look. If you find that the posts are being pulled up by the wattle, stop and secure your posts either using superglue or more PVA glue, you could also re-drill the post hole if its not deep enough and then re-glue. The important bit is not to just carry on as the whole wall will be ruined if you try to ignore the post being pulled out of place, also it becomes very frustrating and you may wish to give up.
Keep going on wattling your walls higher and higher until you reach the point’s of your wall cocktail posts, this will happen at the mini fence area’s a lot quicker due to the smaller size of them, so stop wrapping the wattle around the mini fence posts and do it straight from the doorframe ones instead. Once you reach to top of your general wall you will still be some distance from the doorframe post tops, but this is fine, simply wattle back and forth a few more times from each door frame to the nearest poles on the wall at an angle, this creates your natural slope from doorway to wall. I will warn you though to secure these due to a shorter length of stalk used you may require a few drops of super glue.
Once you have finished your walls it should look something like the picture below. I also at this stage suggest using a water and PVA mix painted over the walls to help secure the wattle in position, let it dry and if you feel as if it needs it give it another layer of PVA and water. (I used a one part PVA and two Part water mix.)
Step 4- roof supports
Once the walls are all dried its time to get a roof on, So using a small piece of cardboard mark out a 2.5cm diameter circle, cut that out and then mark out a 2cm diameter circle within it. On this marked out circle draw a dot for each of the poles in your inner post section on your house, try to get them as accurate as possible to the real locations , then make a hole in each of the dots and slide the cardboard down on the inner posts, roughly taking it 1.5cm from the top of the cocktail stick inner posts, this flat cardboard piece gives a secure place to spread out your roof supports. After you have done this get more cocktail sticks and trim off one sharp end again , then place them around your hut, the sharp end at the card support and the flat end down at the wall, one per inner post will be fine but you could add more if you wished. Secure these with super glue and allow to dry.
Once the pole supports are dry you can start making your cardboard support sections, to do this cut trapezoids out of your cardboard big enough to just cover the gaps between the securing cocktail stick roof supports and walls, it doesn’t matter if they don’t over-lap the supports some as we are going to be covering them anyway so any gaps should be filled later, just make sure to not make the roof come to a point as we want a hole in the middle of the roof where smoke from a fire inside would escape. At this stage as an optional thing you can add in a rectangle cardboard piece placed inside the doorframe to give some support for any door structures your wanting to build later.The trapezoid sections around the doorway itself and above the doorway need to be bent into a curve , the sections either side are bent downward following the curve of the wall and one above the door bent upwards to carry on the curve. These are all secured with superglue and or PVA glue.
Step 5- Making the thatching
Setting aside the main project to dry we can start work on the thatching, again this is a time consuming process and I found it a good job while sitting with the family watching TV or some such. Taking up your sisal rope, cut it into roughly 3cm lengths then untwine each of those sections right down to the smallest component part of the rope, this will leave you with a large pile of 3cm lengths of tiny sisal bits.
Once you have a decent pile of sisal pieces (don’t worry if its not enough in one go as you can always repeat these thatching stages till your whole roof is thatched,) begin bundling them together into small bundles about 8mm thick and secure them once at a height most the way up their length with sewing thread tied in one if not two knots (yep you can guess this part can be frustrating.) Keep doing that making bundles till your pile of sisal bits runs down.
Don’t worry at this stage if your sewing thread seems a little loose as you can secure it with a small drop of superglue over the sewing thread and into the sisal bundle. I recommend doing this anyway as it helps with the next stage, which is trimming your bundles. Right now your bundles will look pretty messy and so need trimming down with some sharp scissors or snips, above the sewing thread this should be nice and neat leaving about 5mm between the end and the sewing thread, at the bottom end just neaten the bundle up, you don’t need or want a perfect straight line a more semi circle cut is best. At this stage you can also flatten the bottom section a little giving it more of a oval look rather then a circle.
Step 6 - attaching the thatching
This step is one of the quickest in the whole project for actually doing the task needed, but requires times between each layer. Armed with your thatch bundles and starting at the bottom work your way around your cardboard roof sections glueing using PVA them down, lay them so they overlap each other and provide a nice thick covering.
After you have finished to that stage and have one whole ring of thatch, apply more glue at the top of the thatch bundles allowing it to soak through them and then wait and let the whole thing dry. This is a good time to make more bundles if you feel you don’t have enough for the whole thing. After the first ring is dry start gluing down a second ring, this one is further up with the ends of the thatch covering the sewing thread ties of the previous layer, again glue and allow to dry. Keep repeating this till you whole roof is covered in thatch but making sure not to cover the smoke hole above the middle of the hut. I actually ended up using three rings of thatch on mine and the top ring was slightly shorter in length of the other two rings. Once the whole thing is dry use a PVA water mix and cover the whole roof and walls, a 1 part PVA to 2 part Water mix is good. Again let it dry before doing anything else.
Step 7- detailing and painting
This stage is very much up to you, I added a green stuff leather skin door across my doorway as well as small woodpile with woodcutting axe. I also added my sand and rocks which I use on all my figure bases to help tie the models together.
After this its simply a matter of letting any detailing glue dry then spray painting the hut with a base color, I used army painter leather brown. The painting the model to the desired level, flocking and any other finishing details.
Here is my finished bronze age hut with a few war bands fighting over the village.
I hope you found this tutorial useful, let me know if you did and I can make more as I do more scenery for godslayer. Using the wattle method i am going to build some walls and also going to attempt a few other wattle and thatched buildings.