Friday, July 8, 2016

Spanish Town - Bodega and Officers' Quarters




I had a very busy week, both personally and in terms of my hobbies, which made it a tight fit to get this project completed - but I made it. My goal for this week was to finish the odd little miscellaneous buildings I had started to flesh out my Spanish colonial town. It can't be made up exclusively of large, imposing churches - there has to be a balance with smaller, more utilitarian buildings.
I made five buildings - three smaller single-story dwellings that might suit servants or peasants, and a pair of two-story buildings. Since I am a former role-player, all my buildings have to have a story (plus that way I can identify them apart from calling them building one, building two, etc.). I imagined one of the two-story buildings to be the quarters for the officers and commander of the militia, with a large balcony from which they can review the troops assembled below them in the square. The other was to be a tavern or bodega, with the living quarters for the proprietor upstairs.

In the case of the two larger buildings, I decided to sketch them out before cutting any parts. The smaller ones are simple rectangles, so they did not need to be drawn first.

Sketch of officers' quarters (top) and bodega (bottom)


My sketches are not detailed architectural plans, simply concepts to help me know what walls I need and how to cut them.

I start any building by cutting out the walls, and fitting them together loosely to make sure they're going to fit when I am finally ready to glue them in place.

Officers' quarters first walls cut.

Officers' quarters additional walls cut.

Bodega walls cut (the paint bottle is there to help hold them in place).

Once the walls are cut to the right size and shape, I begin to lay out windows, doors, arches, etc. My method of making arches is quite simple. I draw the width and height, then place a quarter or 25mm base in the corner and trace the curve. Then I simply cut along the line with a sharp new X-acto blade.

Arch traced before cutting.

Arch cut out.

Once all the openings are cut out I test fit everything again to make sure it looks good. For these buildings, I decided not to cut any doors. Instead I used pre-made doors from Warbases. I bought the single doors for the poorer dwellings, and the single arched doors for the others. I marked where they would go to make sure I was pleased with the location.

Bodega with windows and arches cut out.

Officers' quarters with arches and doors cut out.

Once I was totally satisfied, I glued the walls to each other, and to a base. I also added the interior supports which would hold up the removable second floors.

Bodega assembled.

Bodega 3/4 view.

Bodega rear 3/4 view.

Officers' quarters front view.

In the case of the officers' quarters I also added the floor for the balcony, which I made from a piece of balsa wood scribed to look like planks. I added a thick railing, also made from balsa wood.

Officers' quarters balcony view.

Officers' quarters rear 3/4 view.

Once all the glue was dry, it was time to give the boring exterior walls some texture. As I've mentioned before, I use spackle. I just spread it on, intentionally leaving areas that are not smooth. After it completely dries, I sand it to remove the sharper edges but I make sure not to sand off all the detail.

Spackled buildings before (left) and after (right) sanding.

I make the roof sections from cardboard, and I glue down Plastruct Spanish tile sheets over it. I've tried several adhesives, and the one I like most for this application is StrongStik by DAP. It goes on like caulk, and I spread a coat of it over the entire surface of the cardboard, before pressing the tile sheet down onto it. I also cut a thin strip of a single row of tiles and glue it to the very top of the roof to cover the joint between the two slopes.

Roofs ready to be glued.

I always test fit the roofs at every stage to make sure the pitch is correct and that they fit. There's usually a little warping when the cardboard is glued and painted, but if the roof fit properly in the first place it is hardly noticeable.




I blended several shades of cream and painted the walls of the buildings. I made the smaller houses a little darker, and the larger ones cleaner and brighter.

Houses drying.

I stained the doors from Warbases using my usual Adirondack alcohol inks. I mixed a lighter color (Caramel) and a darker one (Latte), to make the doors look less uniform. Then I painted the outer frames in a darker brown after the inks had dried (OK, I admit it - I cheated. I did not paint the frames, I colored them in using a brown Sharpie. But it works, and it looks good!). Lastly, I gave them a clear matte spray to seal them.

Doors ready to be applied.
I glued the doors in place, and left them to dry.


For the roofs, I first painted them with a terracotta-colored craft paint. I wanted the roofs of the smaller houses to look older, and dirtier, so I blended some dark brown in with the terracotta. Then I mixed a lighter and darker blend of that and painted individual tiles at random to add visual interest. I followed that with a dark brown wash and a coat of clear matte.

Roofs drying.

I had some thick styrene sheet that I wanted to use for the interior floors. In order to be able to remove them easily, I attached a small knob cut from a large round dowel. Nothing to it - I just cut the dowel to size and screwed it in place. If anyone asks, I can say it is a table in the middle of the floor! Then I took my brown Sharpie to it and checked to make sure they fit.

Second story floors.
Second story floors.

Floor in place in the bodega.

Bodega with floor removed.
On the bases I used my usual terrain "goop" mixture - it's a blend of paint, filler and sand. Nothing fancy or special, but it works great and leaves a very nice ground texture which takes a drybrush nicely.

Ingredients for "goop."
After the terrain goop was dried, I drybrushed it - a heavy coat with a dark tan, and a lighter coat with a lighter tan. I added some Army Painter tufts, and the buildings were done!

Here's a gallery of pictures of the officers' quarters:








And here's the bodega:






So what do you think? How do the final versions compare to the original concept sketches? I think they're pretty close, and I am quite pleased with the final product!

The bodega - sketches and model.

The officers' quarters - sketches and model.

That's it for this post - it's been a long one with all the pictures. Up next, the three small dwellings.

'Til next time!
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