Scratch Built Hovel

Many years ago I built enough 28mm buildings to make a small hamlet. It comprised several multi storey houses, a large inn, a barn/workshop and stables. The basis for these came from inspiration from modelling articles in White Dwarf magazine in the early 90s. I no longer own copies of these magazines so I can’t remember the exact issues they appeared in (between numbers 140 and 160?) or even who authored the articles but I thought I’d give it another go at making a building but this time pretty much from memory.


The most important thing I can remember was getting the scale to feel right, particularly for the windows and doors. Even within 28mm figures there’s a big difference between ‘standard’ human miniatures and the more ‘heroic’ humans that represent chaos warriors etc. My personal preference was to get a balance between the two so they looked okay with both sizes of miniatures. I used to use 2 particular figures as scale gauges when experimenting with this – a ranger figure and a chaos warrior. The original 2 I used are long gone so I’ve chosen similar models from my current collection. Remember this isn’t military or railway modelling made to an exacting scale, it’s all about things ‘feeling right’.


The tools used to make this were standard model makers fare – a sharp knife, mechanical pencil and a metal safety ruler.
I used a glue gun to secure the walls and roof panels together because I now own a cheap one but PVA glue left overnight to dry does the same job, just make sure the parts you are gluing don’t move. PVA was used to glue the woodwork on. In addition to standard acrylic paints a cheap matt black car aerosol paint was used on the roof, but more on that later. On completion I varnished it with a matt acrylic spray.


The walls are made from foam card. It appears the standard thickness for this sheeting is now 5mm and that’s what most places seem to stock. The stuff I used to use in the 90s seemed thinner than this – probably closer to 2.5mm or 3mm I’d guess. 5mm isn’t
really a problem but it can make windows seem a little bit ‘too deep’ and sunken. This can be remedied with adding a panel of card the size of the window inside the frame to bring the depth down slightly.

The woodwork is a mixture of balsa and matchsticks. These look better if you shave small amounts off the edges of the wood to give the appearance of aged hand hewn timbers. Don’t go too mad though. The texture on the walls is ready mixed all purpose filler diluted down with water and applied to the foam card between the wood framework.

The roof first had fairly rigid card sheets (approximately 2mm thick) glued on to form a surface to apply the roof effect.
All my previous buildings had tiled roofs which is achieved by using thin card (cereal packets are ideal) cut into strips with tiles cut into them. These are glued from the bottom up, overlapping each other to create the impression of tiles. It helps to break up the uniformity of these by cutting the occasional tile off at an angle as if broken and sheared off. Again, don’t go too mad. The top ridge is finished with a single piece of card with tile shapes cut on both sides to imitate coping tiles.
As this new building was to be a peasant hovel I decided to experiment creating a thatched roof.
With no towelling material to hand I soaked a piece of cheap dish cloth in diluted PVA glue and draped it over the roof. I’m not entirely happy with this result but it does the job. Next time I’d be tempted to add more pieces of dish cloth over the original piece to improve the thatch effect.
You need to wait until the roof has fully dried out before you attempt to paint it. Mine took a good few days to dry.


The woodwork was first painted with dark brown and then dry brushed using a pale grey brown and an off white bone/cream final highlight.

The window panes were painted black with small amounts of grey added to the middle.

For the roof I originally made a dark brown wash from some cheap tubes of acrylics I’d bought in a discount store. I applied this and although I was happy with the colour you could still see small dots of white card underneath on the roof where the paint hadn’t managed to penetrate through the dish cloth holes. This created a speckled effect and looked awful. To get round this I had to mask off the model and spray the roof with a cheap matt black aerosol. I then dry brushed it with dark brown and highlighted it further adding yellow and white to the original brown. Speckle problem solved.

The wall panels were first painted with an off white bone/cream colour. A diluted pale brown was then washed around the edges of each panel leaving the middle untouched. When dry the middle was dry brushed with white.

Simple but effective I think.




This next photo gives an idea of scale.



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