|The watchtower on its hill with the gateway in the background|
|A wagon train approaches the gateway|
The fortification gate was designed to represent a simple wooden wall with rampart behind and earth bank in front. Its centre would be a large double door and for aesthetic appeal this would be set between two pillars looking like they were made of stone blocks.
I started by cutting a base from 3mm MDF about 1ft long and shaped so as to fit neatly across a table corner. I used kebab sticks to make the wooden wall at cut these to length, with some shorter ones going across the top of the gateway and a few more smaller ones each side of the front of the entrance, effectively put there to hold the earth bank in place. Each stick was roughly sharpened at the top with a modelling knife. I used two offcuts of wood, about 1cm square in cross section for the stone pillars and glued these in place, then glued the cut kebab sticks and set the whole aside to dry. Later, I attached another wood offcut to the rear of the wall to form the foundation for the rampart so a few figures could be placed here to defend the fortification.
When this was thoroughly dried I used a lot of filler (mix of PVA, water, Polyfilla and builder's sand to create the earth bank and fill in the gap beneath the rampart. In hindsight paper mache or polystyrene to build this up first might have made more sense and would certainly have made the finished piece lighter!
The door was made in the same way as doors for the Saga terrain, by sticking strips of cardboard onto a piece of card and cutting to size when done. I made four doors in this way, two for each side of the gateway.
I used Milliput to texture the pillars and imprinted this with the shapes of stone blocks using the tip of a small screwdriver.
Finally I textured the top of the rampart with PVA and chinchilla dust, and the base itself as normal for my 28mm figures, using filler/PVA/sand mix and topping with a sprinkling of chinchilla dust.
When completely dry, I painted wood using a dark brown and stone in medium grey, and the top of the rampart a light sand. The earth bank and base were painted as normal for my figure bases, using Crown Cappuccino highlighted with a dry brush of Crown Brown Sugar. Finally, the whole finished piece was very lightly dry brushed with Crown Biscuit.
Once painting was completed I used some flock in patches on the earth bank to finish.
|The watchtower, used without the hill|
To give the option of the tower being sited on higher ground, I made a separate hill piece that the watchtower could be used with if desired.
I cut a rectangular base from 3mm MDF for the watchtower, allowing some space on this for the scaffold that would reach the door. I cut a second piece about the same size as this for the top of the hill (see below) and a larger base for the hill itself, as well as a square piece of MDF to use as the base of the building's roof (cut very precisely to size - see below).
I first made the hill on which the watchtower could stand. I took the MDF piece that would be the hill top and glued this on a couple of blocks of polystyrene in the centre of the larger hill base. When this had dried, I built the basic shape of the hill around this using paper mache. Once I was happy with this I textured the hill with PVA/filler/sand mix, ensuring the top of the hill was reasonably smooth, with a few large stones set around the hill for aesthetic appeal. I tried to made a sort of obvious path up the hill to where the watchtower entrance would be. Once constructed, I painted the hill in Crown Cappuccino highlighted with Crown Brown Sugar. This was finished with some patchy areas of flock.
The main body of the watchtower was made from the box that came with a nice bottle of whisky. These are typically made of very good quality card that does not warp when wet (like beermats) and so are very good for modelling. They're also not corrugated inside so don't require filling around exposed edges. I cut this to the desired height and glued it to the watchtower's base.
I used an offcut from the whisky box to made an inset floor to use in the watchtower's upper room (I assume the watchtower only essentially has this one room and that this is reached via internal ladder within the tower). I textured this floor with paper strips to represent floorboards and a trapdoor made from strips of card, and glued it in place.
I used wooden stirring sticks (readily freely available from many coffee shops) to make the timber frame of the building. For rustic effect the sticks were each split lengthwise and I selected the most appropriate ones to put in place. I stuck these in position roughly in the same pattern as my pre-painted resin buildings. I made four windows for each side of the watchtower using cut matchsticks and small slivers of MDF, and stuck these in place. They would probably have been just as effective if made from card, to be honest.
I used filler (an air-drying modelling clay on this occasion, in fact) for the stone foundation of the building. I won't be using this material again as it shrinks significantly on drying and required repair works (though I kept a couple of the cracks that formed as they look plausibly authentic. Would have been a lot better using a thick PVA/filler mix instead, or possibly Milliput. I textured the edge of the clay when almost dry by gently tapping with the handle of a small screwdriver. The overall effect is more "Hammerite" than stone block, but is reasonably effective and this looks fine from a distance.
I made a door from card strips stuck to card, cut to shape and glued in place, and constructed a rough wooden scaffold to allow access to the door from a variety of wood offcuts from matches and coffee stirrers. After some fiddly and frustrating gluing and a reasonable amount of swearing I ended up (at last) with something that was the roughly right shape and size and looked good enough when glued in position.
I textured the walls of the building between the timber framing with a very rough plastering of PVA/filler and the base itself with PVA/filler/sand mix.
The rampart for the roof was made from cut matchsticks glued together to make an even arrangement along each edge. The MDF base for this roof fits inside the rampart edge (hence making a lip that sits neatly in place on top of the building) so must be quite precisely cut to size. The best way to do this is to build the rampart sides first, then cut the base, then glue it all together. But it's no more complicated than that and is very satisfying when constructed and sat in place. I added a trapdoor made from cardboard to its floor for added aesthetic appeal.
I painted the watchtower as follows: Vallejo Ice Yellow for building walls, quite heavily darkened with a thin black wash (after trial and error this was a reasonable match to the walls of my pre-painted buildings); a dark wood colour for the building timber and rampart, window frames, scaffold and inner building walls and floor; black for the insides of windows; mediium grey for stone foundation. All of this was then thoroughly but lightly dry-brushed with Crown Biscuit to soften colour tones and highlight edge details. The base, as usual, was painted Crown Cappuccino dry-brushed with Crown Brown Sugar.
|The watchtower on its hill|