Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Terrain Building: Project Townscape

I've recently started collecting the ME series of Citadel Miniatures. This, I have decided, is going to be a proper Oldhammer project. I will be painting the miniatures with old school colours and basing them with goblin green, in an historically accurate 80s manner. I will need then, some proper old school scenery to photograph them with. And so began Project Townscape.
I had set myself an unusual number of restrictions on this project:
  • The terrain must be built using only 80s methods and materials.
  • It must represent Dale (my first set for photographing is ME-82, Hobbit Personalities.
  • It must draw on proper Oldhammer sources for inspiration.
But this is not just a collecting project. I am first and foremost a wargamer, and this terrain will be used. So therefore I added the following requirements:
  • The terrain must also stand in for Frostgrave, the game de jour in my circle.
  • It must match my existing Conflix terrain.
My main source for methods is Military Modelling magazine vol 15 no 4 from April 1985. In this issue Mr John Treadaway makes a rather nice castle. I changed his formula only slightly swapping the balsa frame for mounting card, another material used back in the day, and one I find much easier to use.
So I had my techniques, but what about my inspiration? For 80s Citadel buildings it has to be Townscape. A book of 39 card stock buildings published in 1988, but collected from previous publications.
Both Dale and Frostgrave are ruined so the obvious choice was 23: Ruins. I also decided on 13: Tower House, a balcony is always good for skirmish games.
First job is measuring up and drawing out the panels on mounting card. I kept the dimensions pretty much the same as the originals, which is on the small side for 28mm, but I'm being authentic.
I did make a slight change to the Tower House design though. I decided to make it into something of a ruin. This fits my theme better but also it would make the upper floor accessible when gaming. 
This meant I also had to move around some of the upper windows and the balcony slightly as the original didn't make much sense when you thought about the interior.
I then cut out the piece, and glued the four main section of the tower together, using balsa wood inside to make it stronger. These corner pieces only went as high as the upper floor, which was formed by gluing a rectangle of mounting card on top. 

I cut out a rectangle of balsa wood and scored it to look like planks before gluing it on top of the card.

The timbering was made from balsa wood, simply glued to the card. The door was again scored to look like planks.

I used card to build the balcony, larger than the original so that miniatures would be able to stand on it, then covered this with balsa wood.

The balustrades were made from cocktail sticks, and topped with more balsa wood.

A card roof was added, only partially covering one side so that models can easily be placed inside.

A cereal packet was cut up to make tiles. (My wife is mystified as to why her Cornflakes packet is shrinking).

The lean-to was built in the same way, a mounting card frame covered with balsa wood planking.

Das-clay was then applied to the lower floor. This is an air-drying clay that is readily available from Amazon.

Using a knife I then created a stonework effect.

I used woven wire for the windows. This was a little tricky as cutting the wire into small squares led to it disintegrating. After a bit of playing round I found the best way was to glue the wire first with super glue, then cut it.

Finally I undercoated the whole building in black before dry brushing the various colours up from dark to light.

The ruins were built in the same way. I changed the design again slightly, this time basically stretching it vertically. This was because there was not enough room to place miniatures on the upper floor section of the original.
I couldn't use balsa wood to strengthen the structure this time, as the inside was visible.

I stuck some more mounting card on the inside on the building, two layers thick but not as high as the main frame, this will be the plaster on the interior of the building.

More of my wife's Cornflakes packet for the roof and again textured with Das-clay on both the outside and inside (but not the card plaster sections. Balsa wood was used for the window and door frames.

And black undercoat followed by dry-brushing.

The finished buildings.


 A Note on Graffiti

 The original Townscape ruins featured some graffiti which I wanted to carry over to my versions, but of course with an Oldhammer and Middle-Earth spin. So on the original was 'Fantasy Battle Rules OK!'
And on my version we have 'Parf nelui i rovaer' this is Sindarin and roughly translates as 'Third Edition is Best'. Underneath is carved in Neo-Khuzdul 'Kikun duma udar n'id-azal' or 'at least we had wizard's back then.

And on the Tower someone has daubed 'Andrann Sigmar  I rofaeg', 'Age of Sigmar is rubbish.

'Emlyg ego': which apparently is rather rude in Sindarin, but means 'Dragons be gone'

 And the hard to see, 'Bilbo Woz Ere', which needs to translating.

Thanks to Xandarien and the Dwarrow Scholar for the translations.


  1. Those are really great. I saw them on Lead Adventure and needed to see more.

  2. Thanks! Surprisingly simple to make.