“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it” - Napoleon
Huizen (6) Japanse huizen
Making a simple 28mm Japanese house
The aim of this tutorial is to be an introduction to those who have never built a single miniature building before. I didn't really plan for this house to feature in a tutorial when I built it, so there is not as many pictures as would be ideal, but I plan to revisit this design and make a new one with this tutorial in mind. Until then, you'll have to make do with what is available.
Anyway, this is meant to be a simple building that requires few resources and little time or experience. The sort of building you might want to start out with to get something on the tabletop quickly and to build up the confidence to attempt larger structures. The drawback is that it won't be too flashy, and it will not include interiors. This is bad if you plan to play skirmish games exclusively, and if so I would recommend skipping this one.
For this house I used a pair of scissors, a pen, a metal ruler (these are much better than plastic ones for cutting), a box cutter and wood glue (PVA, white glue, whatever you call it).
For this tutorial you can get away with building the walls out of ordinary cardboard, but I really recommend foamcore as it is just superior in every way and you'll have to use it for more advanced stuff anyway. You'll also need cereal box grade cardboard, fine grained sand, MDF board or something similarly sturdy, and fake fur, plush, a towel or similarly textured cloth.
Step 1: Build a box
Measure four rectangular walls, the height should be slightly taller than a miniature with base included. Cut these out and glue them together on top of the MDF board to create an open topped box.
Step 2: Cut Strips of cardboard
Measure and cut strips of the cereal box cardboard. For the pillars I will use roughly 1cm wide strips, and for the smaller planks on the walls, the doors and the windows I'll make roughly 6mm wide strips.
Step 3: Glue on the strips
Now start with gluing on the larger strips at the corners to cover the sides of the foamboard and to make it look like actual wooden support pillars. Then cut smaller strips so that they are roughly half as long as the building is tall, and glue these vertically along the walls. Leave room for doors and eventual windows, which you make of similar strips. Finally put on horizontal strips where the vertical strips end. This sounds very complicated in writing, but it should not be difficult to make something like the picture above.
Step 4: Texture
As you can see from the picture above, we'll add texture to the walls that are not covered by cereal box remains by mixing finesand with wood glue and water, and applying this with a brush that you never plan to do anything detailed with again. Really, wood glue ruins brushes, so use some cheap crappy supermarket grade brush. The glue/sand mix should bequite watery.
After that, paint on a thicker coat of glue and water mix on the MDF board, and sprinkle it generously with sand.This time it's not important to keep out bigger bits of sand, twigs, small stones or such.
Step 5: Add a roof
Follow the guide to making thatched roofs, and you will have something like this:
Step 6: Paint
Prime the whole thing black. I use a black GESSO paint since it's cheap and you can do it indoors safe from the perpetual wind, snow and rain of Sweden, but spray works just as well. The cardboard box "wood" represents wooden parts that are usually left mostly or fully untreated on Japanese houses: this means that as it ages, it turns from brown to an interesting mix of ash grey, black, white and brown. However, this is the basic tutorial, so we'll paint it brown, starting with a dark brown and giving it a few drybrush layers, each one lighter than the others. I use cheap acrylics instead of miniature paints for this, as the difference in paint quality is much less visible on terrain pieces.
The parts we painted with sand and glue represents a type of plaster that is usually put up on top of weaved fibers or bamboo, and we'll paint it very light brown, starting with a light brown coat and then drybrushing it with successively lighter shades of bone.
The ground is first painted dark brown, and then given, surprise surprise, layers of mid brown drybrushing. My example includes a few extra touches that can help keep things interesting if you plan to make several of these. The tools are just toothpicks with very crude blades added with green stuff. The firewood is just twigs from outdoors.
Making a 28mm Japanese house with interiors
This tutorial will utilize what we learned on the basic 28mm scale Japanese house, but add interiors including a more realistic raised floor, better lattice work, and more details. Instead of the box style of the basic house, we will build this house from bottom to top, and from inside out. We will also need sticks of balsa or other easily cut wood of roughly 1cmm width to make the pillars. Other than that, no new tools or materials are strictly necessary.
When building interiors you are much more restricted to our initial plan than if you just make a box-like house and decorate it. As such I made an intial plan based on pictures I had of old japanese houses. The house will end up with two rooms and an extended balcony along half of the house. The big room to the left will be covered with tatami mats, and the room to the right will feature the entrance (genkan) with an exposed dirt floor and some raised floors of wooden planks. After sketching this out on a piece of paper I go to town with a metal ruler and a pen, carefully sketching everything out without making a dent in the foamcore. I note out where I plan to have the walls and the doors, and I mark out where the wooden pillars will go through the floor.
Now I go back to the initial sketch and carefully push down the pen to physically mark out the planks and the edges of the tatami floors. Then I use a box cutter to cut around the edges of the entire floor.
Next I cut through the marked holes for the pillars, and insert pillars made of balsa wood. This is when you adjust just how much your house should be raised from the ground. Once the pillars are in place you can start to make walls out of foamcore that spans from pillar to pillar, effectively creating all the walls of the house.
Here is the house after all the walls are added. Notice that I have cut out windows and doors where appropriate.
The other thing that we will do more advanced on this house are the wall texture. Instead of just gluing on cardboard, we will make a simple lattice structure that is extremely common on wooden buildings in Japan, from large houses to tiny dog house sized shrines.
For this we will use the same old cardboard box, but also some fine balsa sticks. I use sticks of 2x2mm and 1x2mm size for this. Cut strips as before, 5-6 mm wide, but instead of mounting them vertically we will put them on horizontally from the bottom to about roughly half the wall up. At the upper top we glue on the 2x2mm balsa sticks. Then, finally, cut 1x2mm sticks to be exactly as tall as from the bottom to the top of the cardboard strips, and glue them on 1-2 cm from each other along the wall. Of course you can adjust both the size of the lattice and the planks to your own content. You should end up with a wall looking roughly like this:
Pretty much your enture house can be covered in this kind of lattice wall, either with our without the plaster wall at the top. Add a border of balsa sticks around windows, door openings etc, and it will look pretty nifty.
Again I made a thatched roof according to the thatched roof tutorial. Rocks were added by modelling clay that dries without baking. Finish off the base like the previous house, and you have a house with working interiors that will work great for skirmish games.