Tilting in the Wind - A Windmill in 28mm Scale
Written by Tony Harwood Monday, 01 March 2010 00:00
The Architecture of Valon
Modelling Materclass: A 28mm Scale Catalucian Windmill
Part One - Design and Construction
For many years I have planned on building a Spanish style windmill piece to use with my own Flintloque miniatures. Avid Flintloque gamers and collectors will re-call the first edition of Flintloque which included a number of scenarios, one of which, called Sharke’s Sword included a windmill. Over the interim, more than some ten years, I have built many separate terrain pieces for Flintloque, but the Spanish Windmill has always been postponed.
While building a Large Farm House (see my own online Blog for more details) I was asked by Flintloque writer Mike White if I would contemplate writing an article for the publication. I suggested that my current project the Large Farm House was too complete and already featured in detail on my Blog, what about a Small Farm Building or a Windmill?
From this enthusiastic comments on the Notables Yahoo group made it clear that a windmill it would be!
On the one hand I am pleased that I am finally being forced into making a model that I have put off for years, but the reason I’ve been putting it off, is that I had no idea where to begin.
My starting point was an online search using Google and I quickly found an image that I was satisfied with. That weekend I sketched a scale drawing and very soon I was thinking about how I would proceed with the construction.
Later after a hectic day in work I sat in my shed and began to look around for suitable construction material. My eye settled on a plastic beaker, a clear red plastic beaker, bought from the supermarket ASDA. IIt was about 150mm tall, 80mm at its widest and tapering to about 60mm at the base.
I thought that this would be a perfect starting point and although too small in diameter could be used as the base for the main construction and building. I cut the beaker down to 120mm with a junior hacksaw and sanded the cut edge smooth. I then used 5mm foamboard cut in tapered strips to ‘clad’ the beaker, gluing the foamboard with superglue, leaving three areas clear – a door and two small windows.
I also super glued a circle of foamboard to the top and then covered the whole structure with strips of torn newspaper this time glued with white PVA glue. At this stage the model is not much to look at.
I started with a rough oval of 9mm MDF as a base and cut and sanded a chamfer to the edges. The Beaker was glued to the base with PVA glue and more newspaper and PVA glue was used to reinforce the join. The base was handy as the next step is a bit messy and I was able to hold the base while adding the DAS and filler.
Once the newspaper and PVA glue was dry, I started to texture the walls using DAS modelling clay. DAS would not have stuck to the plastic beaker, but the foamboard and newspaper was perfect as a base for adding a layer of DAS.
I also used standard ready mixed filler to some areas, to add variety and texture to the walls. The technique I use when modelling with DAS, is to first paint on some diluted PVA glue, then add small coin-sized pieces of DAS before smoothing it out with a modelling tool.
I have also added some ‘blue foam’ paving stones to the doorway, these are thin wafers of foam, cut to shape, sanded smooth and then textured with a rough stone from the garden – just press the sharp edges of a stone into the foam for a more realistic look.
I allowed the DAS and filler to dry between sessions as it is difficult to cover all of the building in one sitting, in addition the detailing work around the door and windows required the bulk of the DAS to have fully ‘set’ or hardened before progressing. If you are in a rush, you can use an oven – but be warned, I have had a number of mishaps when trying to speed up drying time in the oven – as well as arguments with my wife!
It was now time to start thinking of the roof and sails. The roofs on Spanish windmills have to be light in weight as the whole roof needs to be turned to face into the wind, it is rare to see Spanish windmills with tiled or stone roofs.
I assumed that the roof on this windmill would have been made from wood, covered in fabric and painted or coated in paint or tar. I measured the diameter and then drew and cut out a circle from thin card, cutting a ‘V’ shape out before folding the two straight edges over-one-another to form a shallow cone. This cone although the correct size and shape is very flimsy. Again, I used small strips of newspaper glued with PVA glue to build up a couple of layers, then cut another circle of card for the base.
Before gluing the base to the cone I added a disc of 5mm foamboard to the inside to strengthen the base and act as a ‘key’ for attaching the roof to the main building (more on this later). The extension to the front (that takes the main shaft for the sails) is a block of scrap balsawood, triangles of card and more newspaper strips and PVA glue. There is also a sliding hatch modelled to one side – a feature I have seen on only one Spanish windmill, but which does add interest to the otherwise plain roof section.
When the modelling was finished, I coated the whole roof with three layers of PVA glue, watered down filler and Gesso as I wanted to strengthen the card that was used for the initial cone shape.
Once the roof was added, it really started to look like a windmill! Please note that the roof is not glued onto the building, but is fixed onto a bamboo skewer which is glued onto and into the main building roof. There is a corresponding hole in the base of the roof cone.
Next were the windmill sails. The main sail spars are made from four chopsticks, first cut and then joined together at their thick ends with superglue and then mortised together to form the cross.
The sails themselves are made from coffee stirrers, the sort given away at Starbucks. For the construction I produced a simple jig, a pen drawing on glossy card and some Bluetack. The thicker sections are normal or full width stirrers and the thinner sections of the sails are stirrers which have been cut in half, lengthways. (I did not sand the stirrers, but left them as split wood – in the hope that when painted they would look more realistic). I used superglue to stick everything together before cutting off any excess wood and sanding the cut edges smooth. I think the pictures show the technique better than words.
The main ‘spar’ or axle was the thick end of a chopstick, cut into two sections, the longer one on the outside and the smaller section on the inside. Once glued with superglue and the joins were filled, I drilled a hole all the way through the two sections and through the centre of the crossed sails for strength and so I could attach it to the roof section which has a metal rod post to matches-up with the hole in the sail spar.
Some of the later photos show small nails or bolts added to the sails. I added them for additional texture and interest when the sails are painted – they are thin strips of plastic card cut in to small squares and glued on with superglue. You can also see some fuse wire wrapped and glued to the main spar.
At this time most of the building is finished, however there was still a lot of detailing to be done – more texture to the walls - fine sand, cracks in the plaster – carved with a scalpel, stones and texture to the base – cork and sand, plus a sack of flour – a resin casting added to the base.
I have also modelled the wooden door, more coffee stirrers and plastic card bolts. I am now happy to paint the whole structure with my custom mix of PVA glue, white acrylic paint and Artists Acrylic Gesso. I believe that it is at this stage, when everything is painted white that you would really start to see the building ‘coming together.’ I am very pleased with the way the construction has turned out.
The model is still three separate pieces; the main building, the conical roof and the sails. I will paint them as sub-assembles and then glue the windmill sails to the roof. I was still not sure if I would glue the roof to the main building or keep them as separate pieces.
Dimensions of the Catalucian Windmill model:
Height from base of door to top of cone roof – 140mm, Height from base of door to top of highest sail – 230mm. Width at base of windmill – 85mm, Width across sails – 210mm.
Part Two - Painting and Finishing
With the construction complete, I had then under-coated the model with a mix of white paint, PVA glue and artists Gesso. This gave a strikingly stark finish with a slight sheen, not perfect for painting, but very strong and durable. The MDF base has also had the underneath painted, to seal the exposed edges and stop any moisture entering the wood fibres.
I wanted to start painting, proper straight away, but with poor weather it had meant that trips to the shed at the bottom of the garden were few and far-between, however one evening I did have time and the slightly better weather meant I could begin painting!
To simplify the description of the painting techniques and colours used I have split the painting process in six stages. First comes the base coat.
The wooden sails and tower door was first sprayed with Games Workshop spray black and then Tamiya red/brown spray. The fact that they were sprayed over one another when still wet meant that the colours blended into one another, a sort of very dark brown, blending from black at the centre of the sails to red/brown at the ends and a nice warm dark brown on the door. Spray painting was also much easier (and quicker) than brush painting the sails.
The rough textured walls of the tower were painted light grey – actually Stonewall Grey from Vallejo and when dry, washed with a water/black ink/Klear mix. The roof was painted in dark grey/black to mimic tar or pitch painted material.
The tower walls were painted first with lightened Stonewall Grey and then with an off-white colour.
I used a ‘scrubbing action’ to properly cover the walls, while still leaving the grey showing through in the under-cuts. This took a couple of coats of pretty thick paint. The final dry brushing was neat tube acrylic white with some gesso for texture and to dull the pure white down to a very light ivory colour. Detail painting around the windows and door used the same colour but with a steady hand and a fine point detail brush.
The roof was ‘scrubbed’ with a large stiff brush adding grey and brown to the base colour. The sails were first ‘scrubbed’ with dark grey/dark brown and then washed with the newer Games Workshop black wash.
The walls were highlighted with pure white acrylic paint, not a dry brush as I was using quite a bit of wet paint (not too wet) to highlight the texture. I also used a small torn sponge to apply neat white acrylic paint in a stabling motion to the top of the tower. The windows and door were picked out with a detail brush and various colours as well as a wash of black and brown.
The roof had a number of dry brushed colours added, no particular order, I just wanted a mix of blacks, greys and browns to break up the uniformity and highlight the modelled on texture.
The sails had lots of dry brushing with a large stiff brush, with slightly lighter and lighter colours but still with the darker colours to the centre and the lighter ones to the outside edges. Once happy, I washed the sails with black wash and started again, trying to keep the dry brushed colour change subtle.
Much less paint, and more detailed painting as well as painting the base with two coats of watered-down spearshaft brown from Games Workshop, highlighting with spearshaft brown and a little white and then highlighting again (and again). The rocks and flagstones were painted dark grey and highlighted with grey and a touch of brown.
The sails were once again dry brushed, but the change in colour is hardly noticeable in any pictures and the roof had extreme highlights painted on the very top of the roof ridge and edges.
Washes, washes and even more washes! Seriously the base was washed with brown, the sails with black and the roof with a very light and watered down black and brown mix. A much darker wash was added to the flagstones outside the door.
Finally a very light brown wash, watered down to a ‘glaze’ was added to the walls around the base of the tower, all very subtle but ideal for blending the white painted walls to the earth brown base.
Detailed painting, such as the rivets on the door. I also painted the flour sack and spilt flour as well as picking out the nails in the sails with dark grey and some brown/orange paint highlights for rust. In addition I painted small individual stones with grey acrylic paint, highlighted up to pure white and when dry given a quick wash.
At this stage the painting was almost complete – I left it for a day and then went back to it to go back over any points that need touching-up.
The Finished Windmill
I decided on one more drybrush over the sails and a little more white over the flagstones, which I applied with a broken sponge. The sails were then superglued to the roof and the roof/sails and tower were airbrushed with artists acrylic matt varnish.
Once fully dry I painted on some watered-down PVA glue in rough patches to the base and applied green sawdust flock – my preferred basing mix as my Flintloque gaming board is covered with the same material, finally a little addition of some static grass and ground foam and there it is finished at long last – my Flintloque or Catalucian (Spanish) Windmill in 28mm scale.
I hope you like it!