Friday, 6 February 2009

Post Office Build - Part Two

Last week I looked at the tools and materials I used and described how the basic structure, doors and windows were created. In this article I add timbering, texture the walls and tackle the longest of jobs, tiling the roof.

Finishing the walls
I normally complete the tiling of the roof before moving onto the timbering, but either way round is fine.

The timbering is made from balsa cut into 5mm wide strips and glued over the corners of the building. For an even better look, I cut some thinner strips to go on the adjoining corners, this compensates for the thickness of the wood on the other side of the corner. Start with the timbering on the outline of the building and when this is complete, attach the rest. Complete all horizontal and vertical timbers first before finishing off with the diagonals.

The walls are now complete and you can move onto completing the roof if desired. However, I like to texture the walls to better represent plaster. I used cheap, powdered, filler plaster. The pack I bought was only £1 and provides plaster for plenty of models. Water the plaster down until it can be painted on with a brush and then apply it liberally to the wall between the timbering. I’d highly recommend testing the mix of plaster you make on a scrap of foamcard to make sure that you have the desired consistency. Too thick would look unrealistic, too thin would not be visible. Go for a fairly thin consistency initially, you can always add another coat if needed.

The roof
You should create the basic structure for the roof in the same way as you did for the walls and it is best to add it to the building at the same time. It is possible to make removable roofs, but it’s best to make a fixed roof for your first attempt to aid construction.
If you want chimneys, add them at this stage so that you can tile around them, rather than trying to add them to a completed roof. You could also mark where the chimneys are and make sure you leave gaps in the tiles to add them in later. Chimneys come in many sizes and shapes, and I’ve described how to make the ones I used in the ‘extras’ section at the end of this article.
For the tiles themselves, I have seen a number of techniques used, but in my opinion, the most effective and best looking is the use of individual plasticard tiles. This takes a long time and can be very frustrating, but provides a fantastic result.

I make my tiles 7mm wide by 11mm long and make loads of them in batch, any that don’t get used can be utilised in future projects. There’s no fast way of doing this, simply draw a grid on your plasticard cut the card into strips and then cut the strips into individual tiles. You’ll need lots.

Then it’s onto the gluing; as you are sticking plasticard onto foamcard you will need to use superglue, which is why this becomes tricky. Before you start gluing, mark horizontal lines, 5mm apart all the way up your roof, these will act as guide lines when gluing the tiles on. Start gluing the tiles from the bottom of the roof, working on one row at a time. Subsequent rows should overlap by half a tile’s width (look at tiles on buildings near you and see the photo).

Try and get the lines of tiles as straight as possible. Even if you don’t want the tiles to look straight, get them as straight as possible anyway. You’ll find that they’ll look sufficiently wobbly. If you try and make them look wobbly, you could well overdo it and they would end up looking unrealistic.

Continue this process until your fingers are all stuck together or until the roof is complete.

Congratulations, your model is complete. All that is needed now is to complete the base, add any little extras and paint.

Finish off the base by texturing with Milliput (this also hides any gaps between the walls and the base!). Then cover with PVA and add sand or fine grit, allow to dry and paint as desired. I like to add a little static grass to add interest.

For me, the little extras are where a model or piece of terrain comes into its own. For my Post Office I made a number of extra pieces;

Post box - As I was making a post office, I couldn’t go without a Post Box. I used brass tubing in two different diameters, one that fitted inside the other. The thinner tube was used for the main structure, and two small rings were cut from the larger piece. I used a gas torch to solder these pieces on. This was pretty tricky, for a simpler build you could use plastic tubing and connect them using glue. A rectangular section of the large tube was used to represent the door and attached in the same manner. Finally, a small hole was cut in the front and the whole piece was attached to a small base.

Chimney - This was also made from brass tubing, two angled pieces were cut and soldered together using the gas torch. The top was cut using a minidrill (with cutting attachment) to give the pointed finish on the top. To attach it to the roof I cut a hole in the foamcard of the roof and superglued the chimney in place.

Sign - The sign on the front is a plywood structure with a balsa frame. To add the writing I designed the text in my computer and then printed it out. I cut it to the exact size of the frame and then glued it in place. To prevent it looking like a piece of computer printout, it’s best to paint over the text and background and then highlight them to add texture.

Notice Board - Another staple of any post office is a notice board, mine was made from thin plywood with a small balsa frame. The notices were made from normal paper stuck on with PVA and then painted to add detail and make them look older.


I undercoated the post office using chaos black spray and touched up any remaining ‘white bit’ with a brush, this is a bit of a time consuming job and it took me a couple of attempts to get all of them!

Now comes the difficult part, choosing what colours to paint it! Obviously choose wht you think is best, there’s also plenty of inspiring photos on the internet and maybe even a few inspiring buildings in your local area.

I basecoated the walls with Iyanden Darksun from the Games Workshop foundation paints range, and then stippled a mix of Darksun and Bleached Bone into the central regions of each patch between the timbers. I continued to stipple using more and more bleached bone until the centre of each region was the lightness I wanted.

The roof was basecoated with Mechrite Red then drybrushed with successively lighter shades.
The wood was painted using Snakebite Leather paint and the windows were given a light drybrush of Chainmail paint to bring out the detail of the wire.

So there you go, one post office finally finished. It took a while and it spent a long time stuck up on top of a bookcase, but thanks to my commitment to frugal gaming I finally got it finished.

In retrospect is there anything that I’d do differently? The only change I’d make would be the choice of colours. I think that the finished model doesn’t look ‘dark’ enough, so I’d use a deep blue colour for the tiling, to make it look a little more foreboding.

I hope that you’ve found this article useful and interesting. As always I welcome your comments and if you’ve got anything you’d like to see in future article, let me know!


natsirtm said...

It looks great - though I think you are too harsh on the colours - it is a post office not a cemetery.

BigLee said...

A great build and a job well done.

Dave said...

Thanks guys! It's so good to get it finished. Now it can go back to gathering dust on top of my bookcase again...

natsirtm said...

Ah ah ah, you're forgetting a key component of frugal gaming... gaming! Get that thing on the table and play some Mordheim or WHFB!