Saturday, January 17, 2009

A City Gate: Some Ideas for Buildings

During a little break in the painting, (and while waiting for a batch of Sash and Saber ECW to arrive), I did a little building project for my 18th century stuff. My buildings are constructed out of 1/8" basswood and are usually REALLY simple, fast constructions. I do make them "lift-off to reveal a ruin style" (a la Grant) and generally I can make a couple in a day and paint them the next.

For this project, I was inspired by the image in "The Wargame Companion" of a two part city building that could also be used as two buildings by taking it apart.

I worked up a design with two flanking towers each on its own base, that when fit together can make the entranceway by simply adding a gate section.

For all my buildings, I usually build a simple box, add the roof, dormers and some minimal trim then I give everything an overall coat of paint. I don't worry too much about perfection but just get the rough form built up and rely on paint and drawn details to carry it off on the table.

I do use a drawing trick I learned way back in architecture school for making the drawn-on details look three dimensional. It involves using two different thicknesses of line to draw the windows. I've illustrated the steps in this pic.

Basically you make the top horizontal line and the left hand side of the window rectangles heavier to give the impression of a shadow thus making the flat drawing appear deep. This technique can work on any drawn detail that would in reality be either set in to the surface like a window or something like a sill that would project out....a complicated explanation that is actually simple to do. The trick is to just figure out a consistent "direction" for the shadows to be my case I always have the light coming from upper left so I can consistently shade anything that needs it.

To show the effect of this technique, here is a pic of the two buildings...the one on the right has had the darker lines added and you can see the effect of depth it simulates.

I use waterproof "Sharpie" markers so that I can later add color washes to further add detail (you can see this type of painting on the corner stones of each building. The washes are done with a very watered down acrylic. I also use this technique to "tint" the doors after the details (hinges and such) are drawn with marker. I use a purple (yes purple...) wash on the window glass...(another architectural renderer's trick). I also draw on the roof tiles as well. The white highlights on the windows are a new thing I tried on this building and are just touches with a white "gel" roller pen.

And finally the ruins are made of broken cork tile that is glued to the base and lightly must be taken here to get the interior large enough to hold your figures and to still have the building fit down on the base.

I lightly drybrushed everything with white to tone everything down...and its done!

I added some heraldic shields (also drawn and shaded) to represent Bleiherzen....thus the Konigreich has a new building in its capitol. (I think I'm going to also make one for The Duchy or Grolstein with appropriate colors...(so the Duchess doesn't get jealous...!)


Bluebear Jeff said...

Thanks for sharing the building tips.

-- Jeff

Fitz-Badger said...

That looks really cool! The more I see stuff like and the similar "hand-drawn" buildings Stokes makes the more I love them. It's a great old-school look.

abdul666 said...

Very successful and inspirational: compliments!

tidders said...

Super building, thanks for posting your 'how to do it' tips.

-- Allan

Stokes Schwartz said...

I aggree with everyone else. Truly, sharp looking towers and gate section. And your step-by-step tutorial was very helpful. I'm tempted to do anew round of buildings and incorporate some of your methods into their appearance. Thanks for sharing.

Best Regards,


littlejohn said...

Thanks a million for all the positive comment. I spent the day making three bridges...essentially riding the momentum!


Der Alte Fritz said...

Very impressive. Have you considered expanding this just a little bit and submitting it to Henry Hyde for a Battlegames article? You actually get paid for your effort and you can invest the funds into more miniatures.

littlejohn said...

An interesting possibility...doing an article for Battlegames...I'll definitely look into it. I really had not considered that.