I’ve always loved building terrain, and the White Dwarfs from the late 80s and early 90s had some superb articles that provided step-by-step guides on how to build some brilliantly simple but evocative pieces.
In this Back from the Dead series I intend to work through a good chunk of these, as both a highly enjoyable exercise in nostalgia, and with a view towards assembling a table-load of nice terrain in time for when my fledging Dwarf, Undead and Skaven forces are large enough to hit the table!
In line with Orlygg’s excellent Dark Deranged Structure posts, I’ve decided to kick off with the Warhammer Fantasy Cottage, featured in White Dwarf 130 and built by Dave Andrews and Phil Lewis. I tried to stick fairly closely to the instructions, but in places where I’ve diverged I’ll make a note of how and why I did so!
The first step is transferring the enlarged design to your base material. White Dwarf recommends foam card but I opted to use exterior poster board, which is just as light but benefits from being stronger and also being very quick and easy to superglue, meaning it is quicker to work with. Within 20 minutes or so I had all the basic pieces cut out and glued together. I also cut a base from the same material, with a lip of about 1cm all round the cottage walls, and gave this chamfered edges.
Next up is the task of applying the timbering, and I opted to use balsa wood cut into 5mm strips. The nice thing about balsa is it’s dead easy to snip to shape with clippers, and again it can be superglued very quickly which speeds up the build time considerably.
With the timbering all in place the next step is the door. I made a simple decorative lintel from the poster board – a nice advantage to this material is that you can carve and score it very easily and it’s hard enough to retain this detail. I also made the door from the same material – actually the piece I had cut out at the start, but recessed into the wall to give a sense of depth. Again, a wood grain effect was scored in with a sculpting tool. I also added a couple more layers of poster board to the inside of the chimney to make it chunkier at this stage.
A really fun part next, adding the stone effect to the chimney! I used regular-grade Milliput for this, and although my stones came out a little more regular than the ones in the White Dwarf example, I was happy enough with the effect. Deliberately adding more or less putty to create varying stone thicknesses helped with the ramshackle look.
Roofing next…I decided not to use the roof templates from the magazine and just measure my own, as the thickness of material and therefore overall size of my cottage was a bit different. I used plasticard for both the roof base pieces and the tiles, as this has a few advantages over card:
- You can ‘score and snap’ the tiles, allowing you to cut out a load of individual tiles very quickly and easily
- It’s really simple to cut out nicks and notches with a craft knife to make them look irregular
- You can plastic glue the tiles onto the roof, which is very quick and also very strong
- The finished roof surface is much more hard wearing than a card equivalent, which is good if the terrain is going to get carted around a lot.
The last few elements of the build can be seen in the picture above. I added a door handle with a circle of green stuff. To do this, push a pen nib into the circle to make a ring (for the knocker), and once that’s dry add another half ring running over the top of it to make the handle. I also glued sand to the base and in patches to the roof to represent mould (and also disguise messy bits, as suggested in White Dwarf!) Some green stuff was added to odd bricks on the chimney that needed either neatening up or giving a bit more variety, and I used more Milliput to make the ridge tiles (one of the disadvantages of plasticard over card is that it’s much harder to bend neatly without it snapping, so this is a handy solution). Finally the chimney was finished off with a capping piece made of poster board (textured by pushing into it with a pebble) and a piece of plastic tube for the chimney pot.
So, painting time! I started by spraying the whole model black. The chimney was drybrushed up in various tones of grey, brown and green, to keep it looking quite grimy and patched up. The walls were painted off-yellow, washed with brown and then drybrushed white. The tiles where painted deep red and then drybrushed up with lighter reds and bone colours, and I spent a little time adding some thinned down black paint between the tile layers to add to the three-dimensional sense and make the roof ‘pop’ a bit more. I also picked a few tiles out in grey and pink to add a bit of visual interest. The Wood was painted dark brown and them given a couple of stages of drybrush, and then with a few other little bits and bobs finished off, it was all done and ready for the tabletop!
This was a super-fun project to work on, and I loved following the guidance of the masters from White Dwarf, the tips are just spot on! Now I’m really looking forward to adding to this with my next terrain piece, which could well be a barn, or maybe a townhouse…