Scratchbuilt Terrain: 28mm Viking Tall House

The Build

I’ve been asked to join the guys at on one of their live hobby night hangouts and having just finished the windmill, needed something to build while chatting to them. They are starting a Viking themed board and I’d not build anything Vikingy, so I cast around the internet for inspiration.

I didn’t want to do a long house as they’re a bit boring so I was looking for something a bit different when this picture came up in my searching.

I don’t know what this building is, or if it’s of a period design, or anything other than this picture, but I loved the multi-tiered look of different wood textures.




I spent a few hours creating a rough sketchup model (building from the front to the back). I scaled it all to fit onto a 1 foot square tile. And then scaled the vertical dimensions to 12 inches.

( Download the sketchup model here )

Once I had the dimensions I set about constructing a rigid shell to line with planks. I used foamex which is a much more rigid version of regular foam core. This meant joining lots of 90 degree corners.

With regular foam core you have a number of options, mitring, but jointing or rabbit earing. Foamex is too hard to carve with any level of accuracy for a miter joint.

But joining is easier to glue but doesn’t give much surface area for the glue to grip to and it makes measuring tricky: Some walls needs the width of one or more other walls subtracting from their lengths and it’s easy to be off by a couple of mm.

So I came up with a compromise. All your walls are measured to their full length, and then you cut the joints like this:

The notch is the thickness of the wall.

They join together like this:

Turns out, it’s a pain in the ass 🙁 Works ok for boxes, but you start to run into difficult cuts with more complex shapes.

I built this temporary jig to support the cut area after I’d glued up a side to early. Build going well so far!

I persevered…

Time for a break.

Quick tip: If you cut your triangular roof eves from a rectangular piece, the left over bits can be joined up to make the other side – no wastage.

I continued building. It’s about now I realised how big 1 foot square actually is!

With the shell complete – and the corners brazed to keep everything square I set about cladding it in wood.

I started with some large (1.5cm square) balsa beams which I distressed with a razor saw and xacto blade and set them in the corners.

I added some horizontal balsa beams to frame up the walls.

I used titebond 2, my usual glue for this. It wasn’t as good as I hoped, it didn’t grip the foamex well and I had a few planks pop up during the build. I think PVA might have been a better choice, scuffing all the walls would have been a pain in the ass.

Once I had the walls framed, I added details within the frames.

And then filled in all the gaps with planking. I used a balsa strip cutter (ebay) to cut lots of planks of the same width but from different thicknesses (between 1 and 2mm). I distressed them with a razor saw and cut them in place to fit.

I cut up some card templates for the roof and again measured and cut them in place.

It was starting to look a bit churchy and not so much vikingy, so I carved some traditional viking decorations from balsawood to adorn one of the walls.

I originally planned to have a door here, but lost the will to live on the planking…

And more planking…

I couldn’t see this section in the original photo so I improvised a viking sun deck, I mean lookout post.

With the majority of the planking (thankfully) done I turned my attention to the roofs (one of the first things that attracted me to the building in the first place).

I clad some using the same technique I used on my previous windmill build…

And others in straight planking to give some contrast.

With the cladding and roofs done, I added a few details to the walls, starting with some joinery pegs cut from a bamboo skewer.

In the end, it became much easier to just glue the skewer in a pre made hole and saw it flush with a razor raw. I couldn’t do that for all of them due to access but it certainly sped this bit up.

I hot glued the roofs in place. This partly worked and I had to go round and *fix* a few flyaway roofs with more hot glue until they finally settled.

This left some big gaps under the eaves. In viking times, they plugged the gap with straw and mosses. I used some tissue paper and pva.

I put up a safety fence on the viking sun deck.

One last detail was a smoke hole in the roof of the main hall. I chiselled it out with an exacto blade.

The Paint

I started with a coat of Ultimate Modelling Products Black Primer. I’ve used this on my last few terrain builds and will be continuing to use it in future. It’s self levelling, doesn’t need any nasty solvents and goes on beautifully.

I knew painting this all one monotone wood colour wouldn’t work (try saying that 3 times fast!) so I grabbed the Scale Color Wood & Leather set I picked up at Chillcon.

It’s my first time using the paints but I’d heard good things about them. There are 8 colours in the set – 4 wood & 4 leather, but they’re all shades of brown at the end of the day.

I painted the roofs a patchwork of colours, and used mid tones for the walls and dark tones for the support beams.

Each was a base colour shot through the airbrush, followed by an airbrushed highlight.

As you can see, I wasn’t being massively careful about overspray. It’s all wood!

I let the base colours dry overnight, and the next day I mixed up a big batch of black & bunt umber oil paint in odourless thinners and dowsed the whole model.

Acutely aware of the wood & petrol fire hazard I now had, I carefully put it to one side and went for a smoke outside.

I kept an eye on it as it was drying to catch any unexpected pooling.

Once the oils had dried, I was left with this:

It picked out the details much more neater than I could do with a brush.

Those white spots on the roofs, and to a lesser extent, the walls, are dried titebond I failed to clean up. Don’t do this! Fortunately I managed to hide it with later weathering.

Once the washes had dried, I hit all the edges with a light yellow drybrush using a big soft brush.

And the over it all again with a very pale (almost white) blue, much lighter drybrush.

I kept my drybrushing in the same direction rain would flow down the roofs and walls.

I took it outside for some daylight shots to make sure everything looked ok. Even with great desk lights you can’t beat daylight for showing up your flaws.

It was looking a bit monotone so I took it back indoors and gave it an olive green oil wash in the corners and nooks and crannies.

This helps break up the large expanse of brown without stopping it being brown. If you know what I mean.

I use a little black pigment powder to add soot stains around the smoke hole.

And then dusted a dark earth pigment powder into the edges and streaked it down the roofs a little.

Finally, I sorted through my flocks and static grasses for some dark green foliage.

And applied it in logical places with pva.

Time to take it outside for some glamour shots.

Assisted by my not so little helper…

[amazon_link asins=’B00KGCUPUM’ template=’ProductAd’ store=’richbuilds-21′ marketplace=’UK’ link_id=’efcc4f7c-6f5f-11e7-9cc9-132f9123337e’]