Fantasy Terrain: The Ruined Mill.

The Kit

This has been a project on my todo list since I got back into the hobby. A windmill.

I’ve had various failed attempts at building one in Sketchup. I just couldn’t seem to get the look right – one was top heavy, one where it would be impossible for the sales to turn, you get the idea. So I put the idea on the back burner while I built other stuff.

By chance I stumbled across Wild Land Terrain via a post on Facebook. I get the impression it’s a small operation as the customer service is excellent. I’ve seen a *lot* of MDF terrain, but the majority of it is pretty bland. Functional, but basically a box with doors and windows cut out.

Wild lands (and a few others such as The Knights of Dice) have really upped the bar in the terms of detail, ease of assembly and price.

Wild Lands have a range of pieces but the windmill leapt straight out at me! It harks back to the black and white era Frankenstein movies and I could instantly picture it silhouetted against a lightning spiked, stormy sky with a crowd of angry villages hurling rocks at the monster on the balcony!

A quick chat with Wild Lands and I order the kit. It came well packaged in good time, and I even got a free sprue of crates (always handy!).

The Build

This is a fairly long build, so grab a coffee ๐Ÿ™‚

Assembly is straightforward – Wild Lands provide exploded diagrams in PDF of all their kits. I dry fitted all the pieces before committing to glue.

The kit builds into 3 separate units with empty interiors should you need them. I chose to model mine closed up as the interiors are too small to play in once you add a bit of furniture.

Most pieces just pop off the sprue, but be careful around the thin stuff as you don’t want to break anything. The few stubborn pieces were removed with the aid of a sharp blade and I used loctite precision super glue to fix everything together.

The base has supports for the 1st floor balcony. I roughed up the wooden beams and window with a razor saw and cut chunks out of the edges of the beams to age and weather them. I used this technique on *all* the woodwork. MDF dust is nasty stuff, and you create a lot of it dragging a razor saw across it, so mask up.

The rest of the base is etched with stonework and has a small window on one side. I’m not a fan of etched stonework –  too cartoony for me, so I clad the base in 5mm by 10mm bricks cut randomly from extruded polystyrene. I attached them with titebond wood glue working from the bottom up.

Pay attention at the corners and make sure you get the bricks overlapping sensibly. It’s easier to start your rows from each end and meet in the middle.

The 2nd floor is a wooden room with a door surrounded by a balcony. A hole has been broken into one wall and there’s a nicely done set of stairs leading from the ground to the balcony.

The top floor comprises of the ruined roof and exposed mechanism. This is where the sails attach too.


Having got the kit assembled into it’s components (I kept the sails separate right up to the final assembly) I turned my attention to detailing.

MDF is a very solid material and hard to remove so I concentrated on additive enhancements, starting with some wooden dowels in the joints for the balcony supports. I cut them from a toothpick and attached them with locktite.

It’s a little thing, and mostly lost in shadow when the kits fully assembled, but *I* know it’s there ๐Ÿ™‚

Next I turned my attention to the hole in the 1st floor. As I wasn’t building interiors I needed to block it up.

I roughened the edges with a sharp knife and covered the hole in strips of balsa, broken off to leave a rough edge. I used cocktail sticks again to bolt them in place.

While this was drying I clad the inside of the broken roof as this would be the only visible interior.

I left the back wall untextured as I intended to black out this interior with fire damage and any detail would be lost. I broke the wall planks roughly in line with the laser cut breaks on the original kit. I’ll work on these a bit more later on…

The sails are *the* focal point of a windmill. It’s where the eyes go first. So these need some focused attention. I started by roughing up the wood. Adding grain in the direction of the planks and chipping chunks out of the edges.

Much chipping later…

Giving my hands a break from all that carving, I glued in some balsa roof beams, broken roughly to length as to stick out from under the tiles.

I left a gap for the front wall to slot into.

Onto the tattered sails. I grabbed some paper towel and stuck it into place with pva and water.

As I wanted the tatters to dangle (not a phrase I ever thought I’d type) it’s important to keep the orientation the same – you don’t want your tatters pointing up!

I continued to work the paper and glue with a brush, breaking it up and getting it to conform to the beams.

I added a few more plank patches and tried a test assembly.

I used the same paper and glue technique to add some tatters to the balcony fence.

While the glue was drying, I broke up some strips of balsa and used them as shingles for the roof, attached with PVA.

I cleaned up the glue squeeze out before it dried. Otherwise, it leaves a rubbish looking bump that’s hard to disguise without loosing all that nice tile edge detail.

I set all the sub assembles aside to dry and then ummed and ahhed about the paint scheme for a couple of days…

The Paint

I started by giving everything an undercoat of UMP black primer. Balsa and MDF are notoriously ‘thirsty’ but it only took a couple of coats to get the whole thing covered. It’s self leveling so even you don’t end up swamping the detail when you have to blast paint into a hard to reach spot.

I gave the stone work on the base a coat of tamiya dark grey to start. I angled the airbrush down to get a few shadows forming under the bricks, its hard to see, but it all adds up to the finished effect. I mottled the spray to give some tonal variation to the stones.

I repeated the process with a lighter grey. It’s all about building up layers at this point…

The woodwork was next. I grabbed my trusty lifecolor weathered wood set an set about it!

I used the dark tones for the floors, and the cold tones for the walls. I airbrushed them on dark to light fading the coverage as the colours got lighter.

Once this had thoroughly dried. I needed to bring out that woodgrain I’d spent time adding.  I mixed up a dark brown oil paint wash and applied it over the woodwork, focusing on the corners and panel lines.

I went back in with a burnt umber wash and picked out a few planks as the walls were looking a bit monotone.

I pondered the tile colours for a while, I was jumping between red, blue or black, and finally plumped for blue. I’m happy with the outcome, but I think red or black would have worked too.

I gave them a dark blue base coat and then a very light blue drybrush with a *very* dry brush to build up the highlights slowly.

I gave the woodwork a very light drybrush of off white.

And used the same colour to base coat the sails. I applied it thick enough to cover, but thin enough so the pre shade of black would show through in the creases.

I gave the stonework a light drybrush too.

The burned out roof section was next. I first applied a liberal dusting of black pigment powder, getting it into all the nooks and crannies and darkening down the whole area.

It didn’t look like it did in my minds eye, so I put it aside for a while and worked on the sales. I gave them a wash with Army painter Soft Tone and left them to dry…

I had another think about how to model a burned out roof space and then it hit me – burn it out!

Note – these are *controlled*, intentional burns in precise, calculated areas. At no point did I set a bit more than I intended on fire, nor did I burn my fingertips, hastily trying to put out lots of tiny fires that would auto ignite the moment my back was turned, which never happened.

I was particularly happy with how the beams under the roof came out.

I used a bit more black pigment powder to hide the blood, I mean any areas where the fire didn’t reach.

Once I had the sensation of feeling back in my fingertips, I used earth tone pigment powders to dirty up the stonework and build up areas of dirt on the structure.

The final stage was to lighted the sales and hit some edges with final light highlight drybrush.


Rust up the ironwork on the door with AK interactive’s Rust colours…

And take it outside into the daylight. Unfortunately, mother nature let me down on a lightning spiked stormy sky, but did give me excellent light for photography ๐Ÿ™‚

The Result


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