Thursday, November 29, 2012

Scratch-built Buildings Part 4


I've been furiously busy with home + work-life and losing sleep but I got some updates worth showing.  See Part 3 at

The status is that I've got four buildings assembled and I need to paint them.  I sprayed them down with Krylon H20 Black Primer because I'm using pink styrene for my chimneys and foundations.  The Krylon latex primer will not melt the styrene.  I still use matte black primer (not H20) for trouble spots because some areas in my constructs don't take well to the latex such as the doors, windows, the ABR plasti-struct spars, and many areas with the glue-gun glue.

Here's the set of pictures thus far; there will be more soon!

All four buildings and roofs primed with Krylon H20 Black  
Experimenting with base colors.  The technique is to
brush downwards from the top of the roof.

The brown roof had a chestnut ink wash stroke
 downwards and then a cream paint dry-brush upwards.

The slate roof had a blue ink wash stroke downwards
followed by a light gray paint dry-brush upwards.

The emerald roof had a base of gray paint
followed by a green ink wash, and then a
dry-brush using cream.

One building has a base-coat of cream.

One building has a base-coat of white.

One building had a base-coat of light-yellow.
I intentionally left more of the primer appearing
above the boarded-up windows to plan for
the aftermath of a legacy smoke + fire.

The last building I painted with two different colors.
As an added bonus, my daughter's house has
deep purple and orange (not visible) exterior
paints.  I'm teaching her the craft.

That's her voodoo monkey.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

circa 1920 floor plans

The Sears Catalog

I suppose that in a 1920's type genre like HPL Mythos the buildings should be perhaps 1880's Victorian or 1900's Edwardian designs but those floor-plans are hard to find and harder to craft from the designs I've seen.  Maybe when I get better at this hobby but for now I've decided to focus mostly on boxy pieces which I think are much simpler to construct.

Here's some reference materials for use when constructing your 1910 to 20's era suburban buildings.  These would be the sorts of buildings in new neighborhoods at the time.  Nearly all of these designs come from the Sears and Roebuck catalog.  My favorite starter is the 'Natoma' which formed the basis for my smaller buildings.

A 24" x 24" battlefield layout could support about four of these smaller homes which are about 1000 sq. ft. in size.  Those homes translate to about 4" x 6" on average or something like 24 ft. x 36 ft.  Many of the room partitions are really too small to be translated for use in a 28 MM game, but it would be nice to have some divided interior space to make battles within a building interesting.

I've selected a few of the designs that I think are simple enough to recreate; they are boxier than the others and represent what I think are more of the "New England" style representative of northeast USA. 

The Natoma; simple design.  Only $191.00 US !
An interesting 2-story small house.

Candidate for a larger building; just remove the smaller
partitions inside such as bathrooms and closets.

A typical four-square design.

I think this is the ideal 2-story small house.

I need one of these!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Brickworks Tutorial

Styrene Is Your Friend

If it wasn't for styrene - the pink sort - being available at my neighborhood 'do-it-yourself' home supplies store, I'd be out-of-luck.  I prefer the denser white styro-foam because it is easier to create shapes but two things are against my choice of it.  # 1) The really good stuff costs lots of money, and #2) The cheaper stuff is irritating to carve because it squeaks when I put a knife to it.

As a result, I went to my Home Depot (or Menard's, or Lowe's, or Orchard Supply Hardware) store and picked up a large sheet about 0.50" thick.  These housing insulation foam sheets are sold in 48" x 96" and so I have more than enough ... for now.

Brick Stamp

You'll want to create a brick stamp using the eraser end of a standard #2 pencil.  Just remove the eraser nub and reshape the eraser nub container into a rough rectangular shape.  It doesn't have to be precise. 

Brick Walls

I create my brick walls by cutting out styrene into sections that are 35 MM, 50 MM, or 65 MM tall and into 6-inch and 8-inch sections.  Anything larger than that is not useful for free-standing walls because they'll force too many gauntlet situations during game-play.  Shorter sections are useful if joined into L-shaped corners.

Use the brick stamp to apply pressure against the styrene to form offset rows ('brick pattern').  Try to keep the rows flush with the edges of the walls.  This effort will be tiring to your fingers but after many sessions it will become easier to do.


I often draw fragmentary outlines on the walls where I DO NOT stamp bricks.  These I use as guide-lines for when I paint later.  The areas within the outlines I paint a lighter flat color to simulate old mortar facades.  I also cut out long strips of cardstock or plasticard just a bit bigger than the footprint of each wall and affix them at the base in order to improve stability.


I'm informed by Aggro84 that the best way to paint styrene is to use a black primer coat which can be had using Krylon H20 spray paint.   You may want to purchase a lot of this.  For now, what I been doing is applying the primer coat manually using black or white acrylic paint.   Many of my walls are red-brick and so the pink styrene often won't need to be primed too much or at all.

Paint a base color upon the black such as a medium red.  Then, visit every brick with a different color from a fixed palette such as pink, light-red, and white.  It is quicker to take one color and dabble every third or fourth brick.  Try to avoid clusters of bricks with the same color.

Afterwards, add a thick black wash which will add strong contrast when the wall is finished.  When that drys, use the dry-brush technique on all bricks.  This gives a dusty look to the wall for the final effect.

My brick stamp is made from the end of a #2 pencil.

By creating offset rows with the brick stamp I can
generate a convincing wall out of styrene.

The bottom of this wall has an outline below which
I do not stamp. I reserve that to paint in white.

These free-standing walls are work-in-progress
and are about 50 MM tall.  They are mounted
upon plasticard to improve stability.

When painting the walls, vary the color of each
brick from a palette of pink + light-red + white.
This wall section is about 25 MM tall.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Kung Fu Vs. Zombie - The Bat Rep that Wasn't

I set up a board hoping to get in a game with Wee Aggro; however, things didn't go as planned and we didn't get a chance to play. Still, I did manage to take a few pictures before breaking down the board.

In most kung fu movies (as opposed to Western Pulp Adventures) Westerners are generally portrayed as the baddies more often than not. I thought it would be fun to have a group of locals from a martial arts school / secret society put the hurt on a renegade colonial scientist and his zombie horde!

These were scattered about the board to serve as
zombie spawn points. Gunfire would
generate more spawns.

The renegade scientist and his hired toughs.

Our valiant heroes.

The scientist's zombie horde.

The scientist's compound
peeking outside.

Work to do.


Defending the compound

Closing in.
This was not part of the planned scenario,
I just realized I had never shared it before.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

We'd like to thank all of the little people!

So earlier in the week, styx was kind enough to award this blog with a Liebster award!Needless to say, Robert and I were both very honored.

So here how it all works:

1. Copy and paste the award on your blog linking it to the blogger who has given it you.

2. Pass the award to your top 5 favorite blogs with less than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of there posts to notify them that they have won the award and listing them on your own blog.

3. Sit back and bask in the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing you have made someone's day!

4. There is no obligation to pass this onto someone else but its nice if you take the time to do so.

In turn Robert and I decided to pass along the torch and spread the joy around as well and select the following blogs for Liebsters in no particular order!

Scratch-built Board Fences - Part 1

In Progress

I'm queuing up my buildings for a primer coat right now.  In the meanwhile I've been generating several side projects; one of which are board fences.  I like creating bunches of linear terrain because it allows me to create slow spots with cover for my minis games which prevents ranged weapons from dominating play.


The board fences I've created are a bit crude but there's nothing to prevent a careful craftsman to add more precision in the cutting and assembly of the parts.  What you'll need are at least the following supplies:

  • Square-milled wood about 0.25" thick.  I used square-shafted chopsticks.  These are for the fence posts.
  • 0.25" coffee stirring sticks. These are for the boards.  You'll need lots and the kind I purchased are here in the image at the right; they are 7.50" long and there 500 per box.
  • 0.75" discs like for bingo chips.  I used table spacers, but you could also use metal washers.
  • The standard tools I use are; X-acto knife, wire-cutters, glue-gun, glue cartridges for the glue-gun. Steel ruler with metric enumerations.

What to do

  1. Cut your fence posts.  Each post will be cut from the squared wood a be 50 MM long.  You could go for 40 MM but I wanted a specific look to my final product.  You'll need about 13 of these for each set of fences.
  2. Glue the posts standing upright upon the discs.
  3. Next cut your boards; I use wire-cutters for quick work.  The fences are built in sections, each comprised of two posts and two sets of 8 boards.  These boards should be 40 MM tall.  Each coffee stir stick can produce 4 boards.  I prefer the assembly-line process and so I mark all of my sticks first before cutting them.  Cut out 50 boards.
  4. Lay out 8 boards with one side flush; leave the other side ragged as this will add character to the fence which is essential for dystopic genres such a Lovecraftian horror or pulp.
  5. Using new stir stick cut in thirds (or so); glue these down to the boards about 0.25" from the flush edge.  This is the first of two cross-boards. It will be expedient to create large batches of such sets.
  6. After the glue has hardened, flip over each set of 8 boards and glue another cut piece of stir stick at at about 0.25" from the ragged edge.
  7. For each set of fences, trim the excess wood from those cross-boards.
  8. Take two of the mounted fence posts and two sets of boards.  Glue the first set of fence boards between two posts but ensure the visible cross-board is at the bottom.
  9. Glue the second set of fence boards to the right-most post and ensure that the visible cross-board is at the top. This completes one fence section which should pretty much be like this; post + 8 boards + post + 8 boards.
  10. Complete the remainder of the fence sections.  You'll need a minimum of  3 fence sections for a nice yard compartment abutted to a small house.  I decided to create two sets of 6 to give me more flexibility as to how I'd use them.

 Gate Sections

  1. If you want a gate section you'll need to get a matchstick and cut it to 40 MM long; mount this against one of the posts.  You'll need a total of 3 posts.  
  2. There will need to be 3 different fence boards groups of size 4, 4, and 5. Build them as before but instead of using 8 boards, use 4, 4, and then 5.
  3. The door is built using a set of 5 boards.  One face should have two parallel cross-boards, and the other face should have a bottom cross-board and a diagonal one leading out to the top of the door.
  4. Glue the door between two posts; one of the posts should have the matchstick and the door needs to touch that matchstick.
  5. Glue the remainder fence board sets and posts to the right or left of the door posts.  You can see the photos below near the bottom for examples.

Stir sticks become fence boards each 40 MM long.

Chop-sticks become fence posts each 50 MM long.

Each set of 8 boards is laid flush on one edge and
affixed with cross-boards.  Glue the set of fences to two
posts.  Notice how the cross-boards alternate position.

This is an example of a gate section.
It is 4 + 5 + 5 boards and 3 posts plus a match-stick.
The swivel brackets are triangles cut from card-stock.

This is my second gate but showing the reverse side.
I've got two sets of 6 fence sections.  Two of those
sections are actually gate sections.

I've got enough to create two large yard compartments
or one really big one.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Scratchbuilt Buildings - Part 3

The Roofing

Making the roof tiles is a mind-numbing process because a lot of the work is going through a process of measure, cut, filigree, bend, trim, and mount.  Well, okay; the mounting part is pretty fun.  At this point I've got one large building completely roofed and one smaller building almost done.  For this first set of four buildings (see Part 2) I intend to have them with the same style of roofing.  Any future buildings of the same size or larger I'll try something else.

Get a bunch of used cereal boxes or an equivalent.  The larger boxes are better because they'll allow you to have longer strips of roofing.  Smaller boxes are okay for smaller houses.  My buildings are 5" x 8.5" for the smaller ones, and so any cereal boxes need to be at least 8.5" tall or wide.

The Steps

  1. The first step is to unfold a cereal box.  A good sized cereal box will un-wrap into four panels, two of which are of best utility.  
  2. Next is to find a good metal ruler and a matt-knife.  The metal ruler should be long enough to measure the length of one of a cereal box panel.  I use an 18" metal ruler that is an inch wide.
  3. On the interior of a panel, draw  inch-wide parallel lines flush with the creases of the panel because it will help you keep orientation. These form the basis of the roof shingle strips.
  4. Afterwards, using an nice pen mark and draw parallel lines perpendicular to those earlier lines.  Make these marks/lines about a quarter-inch apart.  This becomes the width of a roof shingle.  This is very inane work so don't make them any more narrow.
  5. Cut out the strips on the lines created at step #3.  Yeah, fun!
  6. More inane stuff here; use big scissors and cut into the strips along those quarter-inch shingle lines; cut about half-way through to the other side of each strip.
  7. Aftewards, alternate bending the shingles on each strip up or down.  This will add character to your shingles.  Gack! This is a lot of work.
  8. Now, using your scissors cut every other bent shingle; either the up or down set.  Cut about a quarter-inch off of that set.  This will make every other shingle on a strip be noticeably shorter.
  9. Using a glue-gun or some sort of house-hold glue, lay the strips down and stagger their position so that the strips overlap on the shingle cuts.  That is; the shingles on the top strip should lay on the shingles of the bottom strip upon the cuts.  Have the strips be about a quarter-inch to a half-inch apart.
  10. Once everything dries, measure how big one side of your building's roof is.  Cut out a section of the tiles to match those dimensions.  Glue your set of strips to the roof.
  11. At the top of the roof, once both sets of shingles are in place; add a long flat piece of cardboard the length of the roof.  Bend it into a v-shape point that opens downwards.  This will hide the join area.
  12. Voila!  Now suffer through this for all of your buildings!  I've discovered that one cereal box is good enough to cover one building; each cereal box panel serving one side of each building's roof.  That's between 8 and 10 strips per panel.
Here the strips have been cut-out.  I get 10 per cereal box.

These are my strips with the shingle cuts in place.

Here is a finished strip.  Notice the alternate bends and the short-cuts.

One of the larger buildings complete.  Notice the roof top.

This is one of the smaller buildings almost done.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Scratchbuilt Buildings - Part 2

Current Progress 

Yesterday I got some reprieve from reality and decided to update my scratch-build project. Here's what they currently look like. I've experienced some technical issues that I want to share with you. I knew that I wanted to have some nice doors and windows. As you can see from Part 1 it appears that carved in those portal shapes. I had been following Matakashi's Tea House procedure at this time. In the meanwhile I placed some orders to Rusty Stump's Scale Models site to get some of their door and window kits.

This proved to be problematic.  The first issue was that the portals I carved were of the wrong shape and size. I had to re-carve the foam-core for the doors and then cut out some card-stock as window and door trims to cover any portal that was too big.  The second problem is that I wanted the interiors of the buildings to be navigable.  As such - and this is me being a completist - I need to have the inside view of the buildings to have door artwork as well.  Well, by the time I determined this, I had already glued the walls of the buildings together which made it difficult to get that second door face positioned properly. In many cases, because of my earlier sizing problem, I need to carve out a different shape on the internal face of the foam-core walls; that is hard to do when there is little room for leveraging an X-acto knife.

So I learned some lessons.  In the future I'll get the door and windows cut out after I determine the specs of the kit elements. And, I'll assemble the building walls only after I've affixed the window and doors.  I have another idea that I want to try as well. I thought it may be useful to set up magnetic fasteners on pairs of walls so that I could disassemble a building during game-play.  This is a crucial factor if you've got big hands and you want to have the floor navigable; by cutting away the walls there's more room to move about the minis.

Large Building A - back entrace with a "Dutch" door.

Large Building A - front entrance.

Large Building B - front entrance is boarded-up.

Large Building B - back entrance.
An abandoned building.
Small Building A - front corner. 
This shows two doors.

Small Building A - deck easement entry. 

Small Building B - sole entrance.
Small Building B - boarded window to allow two faces
during layout depending on scenario mood.

The wood flooring within Small Building B.
You can see the interior door at the top right.
Interior of Large Building A.
I'll lay down some wood flooring here as well.

Small Building A; frame and foundation.
All of the step-ways I'll need to building some
railings for them using toothpicks or bobby-pins.