Sunday, December 27, 2009

How to: Native Jungle Village

Today we will take a look on how to construct a native village to be used in your wargames most suited for a jungle environment as for examples the far east or the dense rainforest of the Amazon. Although we will be constructing a jungle hut, most of the materials and techniques can be used for a broad arrange of other scratchbuilding projects. Before we begin I will first of all sum up some of the key materials used as from the comments I have noticed that some of those aren't well-known. 

To begin, we have flax fibres which we will use for the construction of the thatched roof in the tutorial. This is the material used by plumbers to seal piping and can be found in the DIY shops in belgium not sure if this would also be available in your local shop but you can ask. Here's a link to the flax wikipedia page.

Another key material is the bamboo place mat / beach mat which can be found in decoration or discount shops. This material will be used to cover the cartonboard base of the house and give a weaved look to the hut wall. By using such a mat you can aslo quickly cover large surfaces in a convincing way.

The first steps of the actual construction are the hardboard bases which are cut out using a saw as for this work I used a hard variant of hardboard which can't be cut with metal pliers. I also opted for the saw as the bases are square and the metal pliers are more suitable for irregular shapes. I have also included a piture of the tools used for the construction.

Here you can see the bases with the sanded edges. You can also see the markings where the buildings will be placed and other featured such as raised areas. In the following picture you can also see the roads which I have added with a silicone gun but thinking about it I would probably use some ready made filler when doing this again.

then we can start on constructing the actual jungle huts which will form the village. I have opted for a single hut design but also constructed a small shed for some variation. As you can see I have created the base shape of the houses out of cartonboard which I glued together using hotglue but you can also use foamboard and woodglue.

Then I have added the bamboo mats cut to size and glued them on the basic shape. Make sure to fix the bamboo mat with woodglue as otherwise the mat will raffle. To hurry up the progress I have only coated the marking lines of the bamboo mat where I cut the mat. In the background you can see the small shed.

The next step is constructing the thatched roofs using the mentionned flax. Before we thatch the roof we need an actual roof so I started with constructing a basic shape out of thin cartonboard supported by some thick cartonboard triangles. The roof is nothing more then  a cartonboard rectangles folded in two with the centerline undercut with a stanley knife. Make sure you increase the size of the roofs so they overhang the structure and can be removed for inside play. When this shape is finished you can cover the entire roof with woodglue and glue on the strengths of flax across the roof as shown in the picture. Note that flax is very messy and you will need to cover your working area with some newspaper.

In the picture above you can see that the flax hangs over the roof, do not worry as we will remove this later on. More important is adding a new layer of woodglue upon the flax to fix this in place. When the glue is dry you can now cut of the excess flax but make sure that you don't cut of the flax straight as this looks unnatural for a thatched jungle hut. In the picture below you can see the thatched roofs which will be removable.

The next step is glueing the buildings to the bases and also adding some extra bits such as a stone wall and some corrugated cartonboard which will form a small garden. You can also see that I have added some polystrene hills and trees which will form some elevated dikes. For the shed I have decided to add a wooden roof instead of a thatched roof to add some more variation to the village. Doors and windows were cut out of some scrap wood and glued in the desired place using woodglue.

In the following picture you can see the elevated areas wich were now filled with plaster and when driy cover with some diluted ready made filler. These pieces now form an extra feature to the village and also add some more sight blockers for wargaming purposes.

Here's a view of the entire lay-out after adding the ready made filler. You may notice that I have also covered the edges in ready made filler which was a big mistake as everytime I now use the game small bits come loose and you can see the white underneath the textured earth. So I wouldn't cover the edges or if you do some add a layer of woodglue as protection. Further I have also pinned the trees with iron wire to later add the foliage


When the plaster is dry you add some texture by adding a layer of diluted woodglue on the ground surface and cover the piece with gravel and fine sand. Make sure that you have put a newspaper under the piece so you can collect the excessive sand and make sure that your worktable isn't a sticky and sandy mess. 

When this is dry you undercoat the entire piece with a light brown followed by a dark brown basecoat for the buildings, walls and trees. then you drybrush the entire piece with a cream color bringing out the texture of the buildings, earth and roofs. When the paint is dry you can add static grass, clump foliage to the earth and some moss foliage to the iron wires of the trees. The pieces are now finished as you can see in the following pictures. Note that some picture are a bit overlight and I haven't added too much grass as I want to place jungle bases on the larger village bases.



GEM Team said...

very nice

Chicago Terrain Factory said...

Well done project - I can see this technique being used in a variety of time periods.

Where do you get Flax? And/or what is flax?

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

Sorry but I can't explain it in so good in english. But I will give it a try.

It's was very common in Belgium and the Netherlands during the 19th century. I've got it from my dad, he says it's been used to weave fabrics. It's currently used by plumbers to seal pipes.

Here maybe this link is helpful:


Mad Carew said...

Very nice terrain.

Tony said...

Looking good - very good. Thank you for the tutorial.


Wargames Scenery World said...

Just came across this - that's a very nice looking village you've made there. The place mats is an inspired idea for the walls etc. As others are saying, I like the Flax for the roof too. I shall have to see if I can find some and give it a go as a thatched roof on a typical european medieval house.
Thanks for the ideas!