Sunday, August 30, 2015

Derry's walls - Part 2 - making the gatehouse

Gateway placed on in front of wet ditch under construction

Having fallen at the first hurdle with the 10mm medieval  piece from Kallistra I bit the bullet and decided to make a gate house for myself from scratch.
buildings on the inner wall under construction around the gateway

The original gates of Derry are long gone and have been replaced by semi ornamental arches and bridges. The available illustrations suggesting what they may have looked like in 1688 were variations on a theme.
scribe marks on template show how distances were gauged
Best described as simple in construction, squarish in shape and unadorned, some illustrations show the gates with a drawbridge and some without. This is of course possible. Derry had four gates, they may have been built to the same design or to different designs. Some or all may have had a drawbridge. They all pointed in different direction and into different terrain in including onto the estuary of the River Foyle.
Cutting 10mm foam core with a scalpel sometimes produces angled cuts.
My main reference sources were Philip Armstrong's wonderful 'Paint the Past' illustration of 1689 Derry, the sketches in Doherty's Siege of Derry and modern photos of what has replaced the 17th century structures.
Double wall forming the gatehouse tunnel
I only had 10mm thick foam core to work with. I mocked up several templates before deciding on the final design. I have kept this drawing which is on squared paper in case I ever have to make one of the other gates!
Double wall inside the tunnel before affixing the inner wall gate
I quickly began to realize that the biggest challenge would be a vaulted tunnel connecting the two arches.I needn't have worried. It is possible to have a flat ceiling as it is largely out of view.This is created by putting a middle floor in the tower.
blotting out any white which might show through at later stages
It is also necessary to create a double inner wall to provide the walls of the tunnel. I marked out all the windows and doors beforehand and cut those out  before assembly of the four outer walls. I also painted in black difficult to access areas such as the inside surfaces which would 'show white' after assembly and be out of reach of paint brushes. This was a consistent precaution throughout the entire construction.
Matchstick window and door frames, portcullis in place
Using sewing pins to hold together PVA glued pieces in place as they dry is a really helpful thing to do. It not only prevents separation but adds rigidity. The pins can very easily be disguised at the next step.
The reason for the advanced level of finish on the gate becomes apparent with later construction
I used matchsticks to create window and door frames. I decided not to attempt internal access to the tower and permanently affix the top floor.


I skimmed the entire building in plaster and then quickly etched in brickwork (roughly) with the modelling tool. Once this was dry I coated the entire surface in a viscous mix of sand and PVA glue which gives the outer skin the rough texture. Always take a few minutes to give any plaster work a look over in order to lightly sand off bumps and brittle prices.
This drawbridge is a placeholder and not the actual piece
The platform surface had a matchstick access trapdoor added in the corner. the reason for this was to prevent an awkward obstacle in the centre of the platform floor which would prevent the placement of items such as artillery or figures.
Start of the inner wall construction - a modest storehouse which will be thatched
The floor construction was possibly a needless effort as I could have done it so many different ways. My chosen method was to cut lots of individual pieces of thin card and lay them in a mosaic on the floor which was then coated in the PVA mix.
The entire project builds in complexity - this is all macro scale rough work at this stage

The final component which went in at this stage was a portcullis constructed using one of the most ubiquitous item in the entire project - the humble coffee shop wooden stirring stick. The wooden lattice was attached to the inner wall of the gateway tunnel.

Many fine details still have to be added such as the drawbridge and the inner gates but painting at this stage was a very good idea.
from concept to...


I used chocolate emulsion as the base. I heavily dry brushed this is a nice stone grey and then added in a little white to bring up the highlights particularly on  the crennellations  and  corner edges.

After painting I washed the tower in a mix of black, umber and yellow ink with water in the following approximate proportions 1:6:6:24.

... near completion


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Derry's walls - building 'em Part 1

The original idea - jacked up Kallistra 10mm walls x 4 feet
You have got to be careful with titles like 'Derry's Walls'. It might attract the wrong kind of traffic. Needless to say, it was hard to keep certain ear worms from taking over during my construction project. I managed to suppress that particular demon by running the entire boxed set of MORSE in my workshop as I indulged in my most favourite project for some time.
Yeah, but I need a gatehouse - so let's make one and add  x 2 feet
Why build city walls from the late 17th century? Very simple - I needed them badly for a variety of reasons and they simply weren't commercially available. An easy solution would have been to buy a four feet long section, paint it and put it on the table for photographs. Needless to say, there was absolutely nothing on offer that I could find that remotely fitted the bill.
start dressing the breach and.. hmmm I fancy a wet ditch at the gate
In event, my four foot length turned into a six foot length which in turn went from a simple stretch of wall with a gate to six feet with water filled ditch, ruined bastion and various interesting buildings built along the internal perimeter.
Extend that ditch, start dressing the joins and more breach build
The basis of my construction started with the leftovers on the Kallistra stand at SALUTE in April 2015. I arrived at their stall late, just after the Biblical plague of locusts had moved on. I grabbed enough little pieces to make barely four feet including a gatehouse section. I got it home and didn't look at it for weeks. When finally the pieces came out to play and I did some measuring the realisation that what had been bought was for 10mm figures hit me like a hammer!!! Aaaagh!
I love chocolate - it hides a multitude of sins
A little comment on the Kallistra products. They are pricey for what you get and the most annoying thing about them is that none of the resin pieces are buffed flush and straight. This means wall sections do not butt together but bulge away from each other and the tiny gatehouse (well tiny for my intended 28mm purpose because it is in 10mm scale!) was put on the sanding machine at an angle thus sat like the leaning tower of Pisa. Just as well I had already decided to discard it for a scratch built effort.
Ditch and wall dressing at this stage was wise before things got fiddly
I ordered some 10mm foam core on the net which arrived quickly. My first thought was to cut this into lengths so as to jack up (and straighten) the walls to a proper height. I needed to build a four feet long city wall section for a variety of scenarios in the Ireland book. It would be guising as Derry, Athlone, Limerick and various other locations.

If only I had ditched the Kallistra bits I could have done this for 6 feet!
 Having applied scalpel to foam core and messed around with stacking the Kallistra mini walls on about 30mm of props the pieces were all swept into a carrier bag which sat under my workbench from May till August because of other short term projects including Ainsty ships, boats and harbours, floating bomb platforms and numerous other Warfare Miniatures demands. The absence of my Irish town table layouts was holding up production so I had to bite the bullet and get started.
now we're cooking! things appearing behind the walls!
What evolved from a basic idea I could not possibly have predicted but if I had, I would have frightened myself to death.
Since starting on the construction I have put in 30 hours work. The vast majority of what has been built thus far has evolved organically from the original idea. As the project has unfolded and the experience and experimentation has proved successful, so has the scope crept to something more complex.
Inking happening for areas which will be awkward later or are nearly finished

Where I am now is 30 hours in, 6 feet done, detail evolving and ideas continuing to appear as I go to sleep, in the shower, whilst walking and eating my nosh.
Big, rough work almost completed - board edges taped
Although modelled closely on engravings, sketches and the work of Philip Armstrong, enough flexibility has been applied to allow my Derry project to migrate across northern Europe and guise (in the future) as several different locations. I can already see Northern European possibilities.
Aah! I see where this is going now - buildings and detail next
This series will take us into the detail of the construction and many of the blind alleys and new opportunities which opened up for me. I had no plan, no drawings and a barely formed idea of what I wanted to turn out but this first post will take you on a little compressed time journey through  my diseased brain.
Barry enters the house building market
iphones are extremely useful for spontaneous record keeping and this first post whisks through the frequent hasty assembly shots in order to check progress and spot opportunities.

The series will explore the trials, tribulations and triumphs of my architectural test lab by dealing with each part of the construction in detail.. stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Making a floating mortar platform 3


By now I was really in to it. The ideas were coming thick and fast. Some good, some not so good. I decided that when the basic construction was ready I would undercoat it in my favourite chocolate emulsion paint. This got rid of the distracting patterns on the mats and made the model begin to look like something which was going to be of real value.


I was beginning to fret over the level of detail to add. How many ladders, what about anchor chains and ropes? Handrails? All that stuff preoccupied my thoughts. I kept remembering something that a fellow gamer had once said to me about projects - it's all about drying times.

So true. You do something that looks good and you just want to bash on to the next step but that is a mistake. You must let glue cure and paint dry otherwise you just start to mess up.

This post shows some of the detail and where I eventually drew the line. I could have gone on and on but more fiddly bits means more things that can break and more clutter when you are trying to use it on the table.

I was hoping probably to go to the next level of detail but with hindsight stopped at just the right point.. I think!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sails on the horizon! - Finished Ainsty Merchantman

Sail Ho! Where away?
I really enjoyed working on this model. Perhaps I was all the time considering what I was going to use it for; The siege of Derry, actions in the Baltic, The Dutch Wars, maybe even something to do with Pirates... well no, that is done to death.
nice perspective
and another
I decided to partially rig the ship but of course the problem is then transportation and storage. As I do a lot of travelling and shows with my gaming I thought I should remain practical. That means, detachable masts. When the masts are removable then the ratlines go and also all of the connecting rigging between masts and bowsprit cannot be included.
these were quick shots and badly set up but came out ok
I wanted enough rigging to suggest some complexity without it being overpowering or impeding the placement and removal of models.

The sails I chose to wrap around dowel of the same diameter as the spars. I glue them first and then secured them with cotton rigging.

The vessel's first outing was at the Claymore show on August 1st, she will be disembarking invasion troops from Peter the Great's Army to capture Stockholm! So, sailing under the Czar's flag she completed her maiden mission without being sunk!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Soldiers of Killiecrankie The Foot


mixed infantry
There were several groups taking part but I did not get the official titles of them all. Many of the lads came from Co Donegal and represented the men of Purcell's Regiment under Colonel Cannon at Killiecrankie. Some of the re enactors were from England but I did not get the group's name.
Pike with two wings of shot
I believe a Scots unit going under the name of Loudon's represented men of Leven's Regiment. There were some folks with yellow facing and I thought they may have had short muskets or carbines.
One Scots light gun and a galloper gun were also present and made a lot of noise.
Irish Foot
These pictures show some combined manoeuvres.

Fire!
Scots Foot
Irish infantry

Friday, August 14, 2015

Making a floating mortar platform 2


There was some degree of hit or miss with the making of this piece. I am too impatient to measure everything like a craftsman and tend to size things up by sight and judge it. As a result one or two distances are marginally off. I satisfied my OCD by making up the excuse that the Russians constructed the platform in haste and so did not themselves seek perfection, rather functionality.
The idea of projecting the front face forward was to deflect shots away from the platform. I thought it looked pretty good!

Having constructed the front face my initial idea was for a single level, no firing platform and an observation tower in the front face centre protected by wooden screens. I was at first going to have two halves of protected wall with a 2-3 in ch gap in the middle where the tower would sit. I realized as I was building that this might be awkward and went for the continuous shield across the entire deck. I then thought about two levels of musketeers firing and protecting the platform against assault.

The raised mortar platform was also an afterthought. My first idea was a flat deck. Then I was going to build a significantly raised bomb platform but thought this would be unrealistically cumbersome. The 3mm raised plinth proved to be an excellent solution.

The large log buffers on each side were going to be the finished design and then I thought of landing platforms on each side which would allow boats to come alongside. I had no idea how these were going to look and used 1mm MDF to make them.

The capstans are map pegs from a stationers. I put safety rails on the sea - side of the musketry gallery but left the platform facing rear side open. This was tricky to build and if I was doing it again I learned some valuable lessons first time round.

Although I was sorely tempted to glue the rear defensive log barricade on it proved smart to leave it loose as great photos can be taken viewing the whole deck open from the rear.

The shots accompanying this post show various stages in the construction together with shots of the finished piece.


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