Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Malifaux Terrain: Frontier Town Part 1

One of my first Malifaux projects was a Western-themed town. There is a lot of reference material on the web, so finding ideas wasn't much of a challenge. The techniques used in this guide can be applied to just about any type of building. Here are the tools and materials you will need:

Large T-Square
Hobby knife and lots of blades
White glue
Medium Density Fiberboard
Several 1/4" foamcore sheets
Craft sticks and balsa wood. Some will need to be 1/4" square posts
Miniature barrels, spindles, fences, etc...
Paint- Dark Brown, Light Brown, Blue, Gray, Orange, Yellow
This isn't a very expensive project if you already have the tools. You should spend around $50.


Your first step should be to plan out the floorplan of your board and get an idea of how many buildings you want to make. I wanted two smaller buildings, two long buildings, one tall building, and one narrow building. Each building would have a porch out front and one would have a side staitcase, so I added a couple of inches on the front and sides where needed. I used the jigsaw to cut my MDF to the proper dimensions. Measure twice and cut once! The smaller buildings needed a base 5"x8". The long buildings needed a base 5"x13". The tall building with the staircase needed a base 7"x8". The narrow building would not have a porch, so needed a base only 4"x11"

Foamcore comes in sheets that are 20" x 30". In order to maximize your materials, try to keep the dimensions of your buildings within those limits. Take a minute to think about the height of your walls. Normally I try to keep the walls at about 2.5" high. You may decide to keep them smaller or larger, but this works pretty well and also maximizes your materials. Cut one 5" wide for the two storey hotel. This will leave you with seven strips that will become the walls of the building.

Here is where you have to do a little math. If you cut a strip of foamcore 30" long, then you can score it three times, fold it, and make four walls. The interior dimension will be 30", but the exterior dimension will be 32" due to the width of the foam (1/4" on each side). To get a nice even set of measurements, account for this width when making your cuts. Use the T-Square to keep everything square. If you want a building to be 11"x5", then make the following cuts: starting with a 30" strip, make a mark at 4.5", 15", and 19.5". Score through the paper on one side with your first cut. With the second cut, cut through the foam without cutting the paper on the other side. Fold at your cuts and you should have a perfect rectangle. If your cuts are not perpindicular, the building will not sit flat on the base. For the small buildings, score the strip at 4.5", 10", 14.5", and cut it off at 20".

You may have noticed that many western buildings have a high facade on the front that is often double the height of the rest of the building. When cutting out the initial strips, you may want to leave the facade attached. In this case, one of the shorter scored sections will be taller than the rest of the strip, resulting in an "L" shape. Careful planning and drawing out all your walls before cutting will help make the most of your material.

Once you have the walls cut out, fold them to shape and glue them to the base you prepared earlier. Have some masking tape or pins around to hold the walls in place while drying. You may have noticed that the act of folding the walls out leaves a 1/4" missing on each corner. Use your 1/4" square balsa pieces to fill in this gap. Cut them to size and glue in. Not only does it provide stability, but will also give a nice sturdy look to the building.

 Here is a picture of what your last corner should look like. The balsa wood post keeps the edge neat and strong. Before the paint went on I also constructed some shelves and a doorframe. In the background you can see the stairway I started on for the hotel.

Here are the first four completed. Note the extra length on the front of the base where the boardwalk will go.

With the buildings assembled I used some scrap for the roof. This is a triangle, held in place with glue and pins. Cool, huh? We will cover it with shingles later. At this point just make sure it fits snugly over the roof and is at a pitch that you like.
Here is a top-down view of the completed building. Notice the facade and flush fitting roof. Using balsa wood and some spindles I put together a few overhangs for the front of each building. A few touches like barrels, hitching posts, and window frames are also a good idea.
The most tedious part of this build was the sheathing with balsa wood. While watching TV I spent several hours with a pair of cutters and a pack of balsa wood. I made a whole variety of different sizes and then set to work piecing them together on the fronts of the buildings. Some I did horizontally, some vertically. I started with just doing the facades, but will go back one day and cover the sides and back as well. If you don't want to work with balsa wood, you can probably buy dollhouse siding that comes in plastic sheets. Whatever you do, have fun!
Next session we will look at shingles and paint.

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