9 August 2020

Summer of Scenery: Warhammer Cottage 2 — I seem to have made some progress

As we all know, Rome wasn't built in a day. It would have been, only they were waiting for the undercoat to dry. And the troll to bugger off.

I don't know why it's taken me four weeks to get to this point. I've been churning out figures over the past month so it's not like I'm in some kind of painting slump. I think that after the initial post I suddenly decided I lacked the confidence to actually build the cottage. I worried about making the chimney as I suck at sculpting, and I worried about the roof as it looks to be fiddly as hell. I also felt like I'd bitten off more than I could chew. So the cottage sat on the breakfast counter (our apartment is small) for a month, unloved and untouched, while I got on with figures as I still wanted to paint, I just didn't want to build.

Anyway, a week ago I had an epiphany while walking the dogs (for some reason every bright idea I get is while walking the puppers). One of — or to be honest, my main — worry was the chimney. In the original plans, the chimney is made from greenstuff/Milliput and basically sculpted. You can see excellent examples of it here and here. My sculpting skills are pretty much limited to tentacles, greenstuff in general fills me with a sense of dread and so I became obsessed with the issue of the chimney, and it became this massive block to making any progress. I just couldn't face doing it.

Wait, what was I on about?

Oh yeah. So my bright shining lightbulb idea was, why not adapt the plans and simply make a chimney out of plastic rod and have it coming out of the roof? You know, the sort of chimney you associate with witches' cottages, the ones that are crooked and have a cone thing at the top. With this in mind, I realised I'd have to start again, so I did.

This time, I didn't bother with the template for the chimney wall, I just did two copies of the end wall. After gluing them together I hit the balsa wood, which went well until I had to work out how to cut the ends of the angled bits on the side wall. As I said before, this is like my crappest subjects at school — maths and art — with the added joy of woodwork, another class at which I sucked. Once I'd cut and glued on all the balsa, I airbrushed the entire model with Vallejo Black Primer.

A totally gratuitous selfie with Erebus in a desperate attempt to break up the text.

I knew I needed texture on the walls, so I used Liquitex Modelling Paste daubed on with an old paintbrush. I did think about using PVA glue sprinkled with sand, and sort of wish I did, but the paste looked OK once I'd tidied it up. After it had dried I gave it three thin coats of Ivory and a once-over with Grey Wash to make it a tad dirty. I tried giving the wood a coat of Chocolate Brown but the balsa is pretty absorbent and I realised it was going to take several coats, so to save some time I decided to stick with black. I used to live in Herefordshire, which has tons of Tudor-style buildings, and they're usually black and white. I touched up the black with more primer, but I haven't started highlighting it yet.

While waiting for the paste to dry, I made the door from three bits of balsa crossed with two more bits. I painted it Red, washed it with Strong Tone and Black Wash and highlighted it with Flat Red and Vermilion. You can just about see the greenstuff doorknob on the (terrible) top photo, which has yet to be painted.

While I was buggering about with what is considered the most basic of the Warhammer buildings, the guys at Sowing Dragon's Teeth built the Warhammer Fantasy Townhouse, and it is fantastic.

So that's the progress so far. I have till the end of the month to get this done, but as we're setting off on our 3,000-mile move to New England in September I'm going to have to pack my painting gear and figures away in the next couple of weeks. I guess I'd better get my act together and do the roof soon.


  1. Excellent progress Matt, I know a lot of people are scared by greenstuff, but it's like any thing in this hobby practice and a willingness to experiment. Also another way to achieve stone work is carving it in insulation foam, a lot of people find this easier to work with.
    The colours and details on the cottage work really well, with what you've done, and nice selfie

    1. Also if you water down PVA glue, 50/50 and seal the balsa wood it will make it easier to paint, it also strengthens the balsa and makes it more durable

    2. Thanks, Dave. I can't believe I put off doing it for so long, as it wasn't that difficult. Once I'd had the idea for the chimney it gave me a boost to get on with it. Today I'm going to try to get the roof, or at least a lot of it, out of the way.

      My main thing with greenstuff is that I find it a pain to work with, and my sculpting skills aren't good. I can use it to fill gaps and do basic shapes, but as you say, it's practice. Making the chimney from foam did occur to me but I never got around to buying any foam. And I'll give the balsa a once-over with PVA after it's been highlighted.

  2. Progress is progress Matt, and I give you some slack as you started again :)

    Sometimes when there is an element that is stopping you getting started it's better to sidestep it rather than let it hold you back, so fully understand your decision as per the chimney.

    Great selfie of you and the dog, I can never think when I'm out with my two as the one barks at everything it can, so I spend all my time trying to keep her quiet! I do my best thinking in the bath! (now there's an image to conjure with!)

    Cheers Roger.

    1. Thanks, Roger! Luckily the dogs pretty much walk themselves; I only have to worry about Cadbury slamming on the brakes or Erebus spotting a squirrel.

      Once I'd had the idea for the chimney it really sparked me to get going on the cottage again. I'm working on the roof right now and it is a slow process but I'm getting there.

  3. Whoa, Matt...I had no idea you were such a handsome fellow.
    I remember back when I got into Warhammer, I bought the "How to Build Wargames Terrain" book, (which is a pretty good book), and jumped right into making cottages. I got one done, and it was way too big and not very well assembled. I didn't make another building until I started making scenery for my supers games.
    Like you, I hate green stuff. (Dave and Roger are both like the old kung-fu masters with the long white beards, only their kung-fu is green stuff. Not calling either one old, just wise and skilled.) I probably would have sculpted the chimney out of pink XPS foam.
    I hear that insulation foam is expensive over in Britain. Is that correct? But you're in the States, Matt. That shit's EVERYWHERE over here. :)

    1. Why thank you, kind sir!

      The cottage looks amazingly simple to build, but it's a lot more work than I thought it would be. The roof tiles have to be a lot smaller than I thought so they're "fun" to cut out and the balsa wood took longer to do than I'd imagined and was very fiddly. But it's still fun.

      Foam was a material that just didn't occur to me, but I know I need to get some now as I'd like to make more buildings.