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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 be
quite 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.

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2013-02-17 New Review
I uploaded a new review, this time covering the 28mm Ashigaru Missile Troop box from Wargames factory.

Did you know...

The Bushido ("Code of the warrior") was developed during the peaceful Edo period when the samurai had become mostly state administrators, writers and artists and most of them had never fought in battle.
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