Sunday, October 14, 2012

How to: Easy Shanty town

Hi, It's finally time for shanty town illustrated tutorial that I have been delaying for several years now. First of all a small introduction on why on earth I wanted to make a shanty town. The initial project was started several years ago after seeing a series of interesting battle reports featuring the Peter Pig's Ak47 rules and the movie District 9 which was set in an african township featuring aliens and a corporate security company. The goal was to start a small project using 20mm plastic figures and some vehicles to play Ak47 but after a while the attention turned to other project mostly in 28mm and so the pieces were stored untill further notice. Now some months ago I stumbled on the box with unfinished pieces and decided to finish them so they could be used in games or could be eventual sold. 

As said the shanty town is made to represent an African township such as Soweto, the one pictured. For those who never heard of shanty towns: shanty towns are settlements of impoverished people who live in improvised dwellings made from scrap plywood, corrugated metal and sheets of plastic. These shanty towns are often built on the periphery of cities and are lacking basic necessities such as electricity and water.

Step by step

The first step in the construction proces is to cut all sorts of cartonboard rectangles from the thick cartonboard. These shapes can be a varied lenght but would be ideally of the same height so they match exactly. Of course you can also match a number of wall pieces with another height but I decided did would slow down the progress so I make them all uniform. After I had cut out two dozens of different rectangles I glued them together not only making perfectly square buildings but also creating houses with more than four walls to recreate shanty looking structures as you often see in Favelas or Soweto.

After I had hotglued all the pieces together I glued several of them together to form clusters of shanty town huts and create the claustrophobic feeling of the dwellings. After I had clustered them in groups of two or three I decided some of them needed walled courtyards which could be used to store food or other precious supplies. These walled were made out of thin cartonboard and covered in filler to recreate a plastered look.

After the first steps I cut all sorts of corrugated cartonboard and old canvass in irregular shapes and some squares to cover the thick cartonboard buildings. When hotglueing these pieces down you don't need to fit them exactly as after all this an impoverished shanty town and good building materials are scare and often to expensive to be wasted so all small pieces need to be used. After I ahd applied all the different pieces of walling I did the roofing by just glueing on large pieces of corrugated cartonboard. Please not that it is much easier to punch a hole in the cartonboard to add the chimney before you glue them to the building!

Now you have your basic structure ready to be painted and based. I decided to base my structures on some sturdy hardboard bases I cut by hand with a metal plier or multi cutter. Please note that the material I use for these bases is used for packaging purposes and is much easier to cut than the darker variant you often find in DIY shops. After I have placed the pieces on the board I draw a rough basic shape with a black marker to ensure everything fits on the base and I don't waste any material. When the shape is cut out I sand the edges with fine sandpaper, hotglue the structure on the base and texture the base using fine sand and pva.


The painting part of the project was the hardest part for me as I had no clue on how I could paint these pieces both fast and good looking. It was this step that caused the storing of the project several years ago but finally I decided to take the plunge and test a painting trick I had used sometime ago when painting an old airfield hangar.

For the experience painters and scratchbuilders that read this post this maybe old news but I quite liked this fast and nice approach so I will quickly tell you how I did the painting. First of all I basecoated the entire piece using a spray can of matt black which I purchased for around €2.00 and was only used partially for this project. After the basecoat has dried you can now paint the piece using only a small amount of different paints: red, blue, white, black, brown.

The first step was to paint most of the corrugated cartonboard in light tones of grey and letting this dry. The second part was to use a much darker color of the intial basecoat for example a dark grey and partially cover the lighter tone to create a weathered look were the paint had flaked of the corrugated steel. This some technique was used for both the red and blue color and was even used when applying a dark blue above the dark grey. I forgot to take pictures of this step but you can see the result in the picture below. I hope the explanation is clear and if it's not give me a shout and I will paints som test pieces to show this technique. After painting the shacks I painted the base using a dark brown.


Unknown said...

Looking realistic and easy to do! I like small touches like the truck wreck, also your vegetation is spot on. Only remark I have: I suppose for gaming you'll use a dark brown cloth underneath? It is looking a bit too clean now.

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

Hi, thanks for the nice comment. You're right about the base as I'm still unsure on how to make it more filthy if you understand what I mean maybe I will shred some paper and plastic and add it to the bases together with some grass. But for the moment I'm still waiting for better ideas.


DeanM said...

Wow - really fantastic work and great tutorial. Impressive results. Best, Dean

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

Thanks Dean, glad you like the result!

Uopo said...

Easy and quick! Really inspiring project. Thanks for sharing.

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

Hi, Uopo. Glad you liked the tutorial. It really made the effort worthwhile!

Uopo said...

Now that I've finished my middle east town, I could make the shanty town as my next project. Thanks again, I was searching for something different and this town easily fits both with favelas and african towns.

Wargame News and Terrain Blog said...

This is just the reason why I also made these buildings so I can mix the Middle East with Africa!

Looking forward in seeing your buildings. Cheers!