King Stépan IV's pleasure dome at Kragoneidin, on the shores of Lake Polishov

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A few more buildings

It has a been a while since I posted something here, I’ve been trying to keep up with a number of deadlines, dealing with a delightful little flu and enjoying a little time with my daughter.  In any case, in little bits here and there, I have been continuing to work on the urban redevelopment project I discussed in my previous few posts.  This time, I was working on houses and other buildings and have finished enough of them for a post. 




Here are a couple of pictures of some scratch built buildings, some of which are brand new and some of which I made quite some time ago for a “Suvarov in Italy” campaign.  That campaign never really got off the ground (maybe one day) but the buildings make a useful legacy for the Syldavia project as I think that they will be ideal for rural and town buildings, especially for southern and coastal Syldavian settings.  I’ll supplement them with some of JR Miniatures Italian buildings derived from the defunct Architectural Heritage line.  The pseudo-Italian buildings approximate reasonably well the simple plastered masonry and tiled-roof buildings depicted in Hergé’s King Ottokar’s Sceptre.


Never having been satisfied with the solidity and finish of my own attempts to a building houses in balsa and cardboard, I made these houses out of Sculpey modeling putty. Had I seen what many of the EvE contributor are making, such as these super buildings from Lead Gardens, I would probably have persisted with these materials.  Sculpey isn’t the easiest of materials to use, but it is fairly cheap and strong for this purpose and more widely available around where I live than Milliput, for example and paints well.  I made the houses by building up putty blocks over an armature of crumpled aluminum foil.  After I hardened the blocks in the oven, I filed and sanded more or less even surfaces and corners onto them and cut some finer details like door-frames into the putty with an exacto knife.  Doors, shutters and other details were made of paper or wood, painted and then glued on.  The roofs were made of card cut and glued to fit the building form.  I covered these too in Sculpey, into which I attempted to model a tile roof texture effect.   I found it difficult to produce the exact texture I wanted but, viewed from afar through squinted eyes, the texture looks ok anyway!   The buildings were finished with acrylic paint and various washes.  

The only other thing worthy of noting here is that I attempted to scale down the buildings in order to have models that fit the ground scale of the rules I was using at the time.  I wanted them to look like the buildings they were supposed to represent but also to remain plausible in size in relation to the size of a battalion.  This is, of course, a standard approach but I think now that I could have scaled the models down yet further, having seen the results that Charles Grant obtained, and those of numerous people inspired by his book.  I came up Grant’s book quite some time after the first of these houses were made and I decided to try to keep a measure of consistent scale in my inventory of buildings.

I think as the buildings came out reasonably well.  To my eye, the scaled down effect was more easily pulled off with farm buildings (perhaps because of the myriad small houses, barns and outbuildings that can be represented) than with more elaborate urban structures full of cluttered rooflines and other gingerbread.


A final set of buildings that I have also recently added to the collection are these three half-timbered structures from JR Miniature’s German Napoleonic line.  These will represent places in Syldavia’s interior and northern frontier that, in my min’s eye, ought to have a different building tradition reflecting more ready access to wood and a stronger Gothic/Slavic flavor (rather than Italian) in architecture.  



The small model is a barn, from the JR Miniatures German Napoleonic range.  The other two models are the Ratshaus from the same line.  That on the left is one painted by and purchased from none other than Ioannis, Mr. Leuthen Journal himself.  Lucky me!  He did a splendid job on it, especially the weathered metal roof and the mottled plastered walls in between the timber framing.  The model has a lot of character and I am pleased that what was a bit of an impulse buy worked out so well for me.  The building on the right is my own work with a fair amount of conversion; I cut off the cupola and placed it on top of a small teetering tower that I added to the front of the model.  I built up the base of the cupola into a belfry and added a somewhat extravagant roof and a clock.   The additions were made with Milliput while the belfry roof is card covered with strips cut from an aluminum pie plate, intended to suggest copper sheeting.  I’m not at all convinced that the effort working with sharp edges while building the belfry roof was worth it, however I now have a unique and idiosyncratic model of a rather flamboyant gothic civic building.  I’m not changing it now!  It will soon appear as the town hall of the city of Klow, for example.  

A final photo here gives a look at some of my recent buildings set up together; a preview of the skyline of Klow, Syldavia’s capital.



Coming up next – the Syldavian Army begins its review!

6 comments:

  1. Looking forward to the review. Like the buildings and the fortifications - they look sufficiently Balkan to me! Your Rathausen, leads me to think maybe my scratchbuilding itch might need ...erm... scratching. Soon...
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  2. Very nice buildings indeed! They certainly give that Balkan effect. I'll have to investigate the properties of Sculpey myself.

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  3. Jiminho said...

    Hi Ion and AJ, many thanks for your comments. I'm glad the buildings pass muster though I think I'd like to add some wood ones like the house covered in snow in the web page header. And I still need a minaret or two.

    AJ, an advantage of Sculpey (aside from availability cost and reasonable heft and solidity) is that is requires heat to cure (a few minutes at 175F in the oven if I recall). Without the heat it remains malleable, giving lots of time for modelling details. Its disadvantages are that same malleability (as complex things most be modelled in pieces and then assembled) and the fact that it is a bit soft, as opposed to Milliput for example, which has a certain resistance to it that seems to give one more control when adding shape or surface details. Super Sculpey is better in this regard, but I find it quite brittle as well.

    I think that is a very effective material for making bulky objects - blocks which are to become buildings and certain terrain features (a cliff?) and it can stand up to wear and tear. It can be shaved gently with a sharp knife to trim sides and corners and sanded, not complicated at all. I found that I could use Sculpey in Linka moulds but I could only extract the pieces intact and undistorted if I put them in the freezer first.

    I used Sculpey to make the masonry blocks for the master copy of my fortification wall section. I rolled it out to desired thickness on a glass sheet, textured the surface a little, then cut blocks to desired size as one would cut dough. Then, into the oven they go! I built the master by gluing the bricks one at a time to a backing material. A but tedious but attention to detail in the master pays off in each copy, of course. Sculpey is quite useful for some things but I like the various epoxy putties much better in general. I think that in 25 mm scales, Sculpey might best be used as a filler or as a veneer for structures with a solid wood structure. It could be quite effectively used to make mud-walled buildings in your Africa project...

    Jim

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  4. I like your scratchbuilt buildings and your conversion. Very nice work! They seem to fit well with the commercial buildings and with the Balkan look, with a mix of Italian and Germanic influences.

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  5. Very nice and professional looking.
    Incidentally, the Architectural Heritage range isn't defunct - in the UK it is available from Magister Militum

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  6. Hi Swampster,

    Many thanks, coming from you that is quite a compliment. I had a peek at your site yesterday, your cruck houses are brilliant. Really nice work there, and I am quite jealous of your knights as well!

    I was unaware of who markets AH buildings in the UK. In North America, AH is produced and marketed by JR Miniatures. As I write this, I realize that I am unsure of the details, but I believe that Dave Paddock (a very nice guy in my limited experience with him and a talented modeller) who was the creator of the AH range and the original proprietor, sold them to JR Miniatures. So, AH buildings are still made and available, but no new buildings will be added by him. That makes me sad as I think that the AH line of buildings are still some years later among the best available for 15/18mm, if not the best. However, the line is quite comprehensive and flexible, and one can always convert them.

    Jim

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