How to make simple buildings for wargames scenery

Posted: 5th February 2011 by wargamesscenery in Projects

Making a single story building - Empire / medieval / Bree style for Warhammer Fantasy, LOTR or the whatever your game is!

Simple Building For Warhammer

This project grew out of a couple of things, firstly my desire to make some buildings for my son's (and my) Warhammer games and as an experiment to see if I could make buildings quickly. The traditional way to make buildings like this is from foam card – plan / draw out the walls, roof, cut them out, then assemble, texture piant and so on. I wondered if I could make something out of blocks of foam for the basic building shape. Obviously doing this precludes you from removing the roof and actually putting a unit inside your building, but in my case I wasn't particularly bothered by this - I just wanted to get a building on the table quickly and cheaply. I decided to go for a simple single storey building that could pass as a farm house or maybe even a barn.


Using my hot wire cutters, I cut out an oblong block of 2” thick foam for the ground floor, approx 5” long. I cut out a block the same length but slightly wider (for overhanging eaves) from 1” foam to form the roof. On this I drew the pitch of the roof. I then cut down the lines of the triangle to make the roof (using hot wire cutters). The base and roof block want to have fairly stright walls, so I gave them a light sanding with a sanding block, though some undulations here will probably enhance the finished effect in what is meant to be a simple and rustic building. The two blocks were then glued together using PVA round the edges of the roof and base, with some cocktail stick pieces pushed into the ground floor block for added joint strength.

This completes the basic building shape – nice and quick!


For the door frame I used my hot wire sculpting tool to incise lines for the frame. The frame itself was made from balsa wood cut to shape to fit. I whilttled little pieces of the wood off to make the effect of rough carved wood. The door itself was made from another piece of balsa wood, scored with a knife to make the individual planks. You can also try using a ball point pen to 'push' tracks into the softwood. I decided for speed that the door opened inwards so you wouldn't be able to see the hinges. If you preferred, hinges could be made from plastic card and wire or brass rod. For a handle, you could see what your bits box had to offer, or fasion one from wire (e.g. A ring like you might find on old church doors).

Windows can be made in simliar fashion, with an incision for the window sill and frame – these being made from balsa as before. I would imagine that in a relatively lowly building like this, there most likely wouldn't have been glass in the windows – glass being expensive to produce, so the window would most likely just be wooden bars, with shutters. The shutters can be made from scored balsa wood as before and modelled open or closed – if you do them closed you don't need to make the window of course... The hinges can be card or plastic card pieces with pieces of brasss rod or thickish wire to represent the hinge pin. If you go for the open shutter approach, the bars in the window can be made from balsa wood, whitlled as before to give a worn, rough hewn look to the timber. With no glass the window would have likely been small.


I then textured the walls and eaves, using brush on filler, leaving brush marks and stippling the filler on in places to givea a feel of rough rendered walls like cob or wattle and daub / lime plaster. This brush on filler is good stuff for applying texture to scenery pieces. You could use thicker filler thinned with a little water or mix your own powdered filler if you prefer

The roof could be tiled, pantiled or thatched as you like. For the pantile roof, I cut strips from a piece of corrugated card packaging (across the corrugations) and glued these to the roof. The ridge tiles were made from a stip of corrugated card cut lengthways – to give one long tile effect. The underside of this was scored lightly so it would bend to glue over the ridge, and the tiles themselves cut into it by gently cutting through the cardboard ridge at intervals to give the effect of individual tiles. Twisitng the knife slightly in the slit after you have made it opens up the gap a fraction. Its a good idea to brush a PVA glue and water mix over the 'tiles' when they are complete to stiffen and seal the card somewhat before painting.

For slate style tiles cut stips of thin carboard and cut individual tiles from this, trying to randomise the effect a bit (e.g. slightly differing sizes, snip the corners off some). These can then be glued to the roof. An alternative that needs slightly less effort is to make the strips slightly wider than the tiles are to be, and then cut slits in the card to make the individual tiles as before – just don't cut right the way through. The strips can then be glued to the roof, each one overlapping slightly to hide the uncut portion of the strip. The final (top) strip can then be hidden by the ridge tile. If you take the time to vary the tiles a bit as you cut them, this can look very effective – and is a lot easier than sticking on hundreds of individual tiles...



To paint the building I used a dark brown acrylic paint as a combined undercoat/base coat – I went for a very dirty / old look. This was then (heavily) drybrushed with Dheneb stone and then Bleached Bone for the dirty off white look. The effect was finalised with a heavy wash of Devlan Mud, GW's miracle in a pot...It just brings it all together. The roof pantiles were done with a mix of brown, mechrite red and bleached bone to make a reasonable terracota. They were then given a light drybrush of the same with extra bleached bone added and then wahsed with badab black.

You could leave the building without a base or cut a base for the building from hardboard, thin MDF or card. This could be coated in places with brush on filler, shaped and stippled to make the effect of mud. Gravel and sand can also be added to the base. You could drag some cart wheeels through the filler before it dries to make cart tracks and maybe use a minature to make foot prints in the mud too. Paint – base brown and drybrush other browns with maybe a hint of green (manure sometimes has a greenish tinge), flock, static grass and maybe add some bushes (I use reindeer moss for this, readily available from most scenery suppliers) – job done.

There you go, the basics of a simple Empire farm style building that you can use in your Warhammer fantasy games – or Lord of the Rings War of the Ring / Strategy Battle games or any other gaming system where a medieval style building is required. The basic idea could be modified – make it a barn by adding bigger barn doors, carve stone effecct into the outside wall for a stone building, or glue brick effecct plasic card onto the outside for a brick building. I've nearly finished a stone effect building in the same method and quite fancy having a go at castle walls or a watch tower in similar style.


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