Sunday 12 August 2012

Saxon Great Hall, part 2

Making the roof offer many options, including the following: carve it from solid foam, make it up from foam sheets, foamboard, MDF, etc, etc.

I chose to make the sides of the roof from foamboard, using a single piece, scored in the middle to allow a fold, and ends made of MDF. I felt this offered a combination of strength and lightness. It was also driven by the fact that I didn't have enough foamboard to do the whole roof...

Roof parts, ready to go.

Cutting the foamboard is easy with any sort of knife. I cut the MDF with my mitre saw, then primed the edges with PVA. Assembling the roof is a pretty simple job using PVA, and some tape to hold everything in place while the glue dries.

The roof glued up and drying.

I added some internal structure to the roof (rafters, basically) with coffee stirrers. Some small wooden blocks, with compound angle cuts, will be glued inside the roof later to act as location markers. These will project below the level of the bottom of the roof, and be positioned to account for the thickness of the walls. They will keep the roof steady, in a position so that it retains some squareness, and doesn't appear to have been put on whilst the workmen had been sampling the local ale a bit too enthusiastically. Note also there is no chimney. Chimneys and smokeholes apparently have a nasty habit of drawing sparks and heat from open fires up and setting the roof alight! The smoke would have collected in the high roof (keeping down pests as a side-effect) and gradually percolated away through gaps, but it's probable the interior was a bit gloomy and smoggy!
Roof structure 

The roof could be thatch or shingles. I've got plenty of thatched buildings, so I went with shingles for variety. The Regia Anglorum's Wychurst website has some wonderful photos of their reconstructed great hall. These give a sense of the size, shape and layout of shingling. Shingling is a highly labour-intensive process, whether in scale or in real life. My shingles were cut in strips from Slaters planked plastic card. An alternative would be heavy cartridge paper (the same material I used for the quoins on the church) glued in place, but that would be even more laborious. It's worth noting that even though the shingles would have been split from solid timber with a froe, they were generally tidied up and fettled to fit, so the actual surface would have been quite smooth. Even more than planking the walls, this job is best approached in bursts. The shingles in the reconstruction are curved at the ends. There is no reason to assume this is universal - thankfully!  Getting this stage completed was stymied a bit by a lack of planked plastic card! When I finally managed to get to my local model shop, they had every size except what I wanted, so I had to succumb and mail order some. To cut a long story short, 2mm planked plastic card seemed to suddenly have become as rare as hens' teeth, and it took an age to locate and get some, so the build stalled, for quite a while. I formed the ridges from strips of 20 thou plastic card 6mm wide, folded in the centre, and applied lapped over. Fortunately, this was  less tedious than the rest of the roof. I'm about 85% happy with the result, but I think I'll shingle slightly smaller roofs in future!

The shingling finished - at last!

The temptation to really go to town with internal fixtures was pretty strong, but I managed to restrain myself. Some benches, built along the walls using balsa strip, foam and Wills Kits plastic board would have provided the seating (and sleeping) accomodation for most people.


A central firepit was constructed from chunks of fired Fimo clay, glued down with PVA. 

Central heating and built-in oven

Basework outside involved some shreds of waste foam to make the ground look a bit uneven, then sharp sand. Next up was a coat of black spray over everything.

Roof off, showing structure

Roof on. Would you buy this house off-plan?

Here's a couple of shots of everything with the primer on, just as a taster. The last stage will be the painting and the final details. Anyway, I'm off on my holidays, so see you in a couple of weeks.


Friday 10 August 2012

Well, you asked for it...

To all who said nice things about the boar banner and wanted to know what else I'm working on, here's a work in progress shot of a Pictish banner.

This is (so far) coloured pencil on cartridge paper. The next stage is a great deal of knotwork, scrolls, triskeles and spirals. These will be in the borders and on the squares where the banner pole would go, as well as the tails. Inking these in is a one time only, one chance job, so I'm doing a lot practice off the original before proceeding. The knotwork will be a good deal bigger in this one than the gold scrolling on the boar banner (occupying the full width of the two separate border areas), so with a bit of luck it should really pop on the finished item. Once the knots etc are done, I'll expand the colours outwards as well.

Lots still left to do, but for now, enjoy!

Wednesday 8 August 2012

Something new at last

Finally back in a working condition with my home computer.

I have finally scanned my first painted banner, ready for use.

Here it is, large as life and twice as nasty. From here it was be pasted into something like Word where the size can be altered and a second copy added in to produce the other side. Feel free to copy and use the file for your own purposes, but please don't try to sell it to anyone. This is a fairly low-resolution version, but it's still a biggish file. By the time you get it down to about 1.5 x 1 cm it probably won't matter too much.

This is largely Winsor and Newton inks on cartridge paper. I'm not unhappy with the result, but I'm pretty sure the guys at Little Big Man Studios aren't quaking in their boots quite yet! For future reference I would increase the size of the scrollwork around the sides and try to make that more contrasty. This after the effort I made to keep it small! The gold work is a gold gel pen, outlined with a Faber sepia ultra-fine graphic pen. The shading / highlight has worked reasonably well on the boar and on the banner tails, but the colour differences have disappeared a bit on the red.

I've got a couple more on the stocks at the moment but I'll refrain from scaring you with too much of my artwork for now.


Tuesday 7 August 2012

Now it's all kicking off!

I've had a massive computer failure! Currently I can write and post stuff like this (cos I can do that anywhere), but anything requiring pictures, photos or scans is right out. Added to all of this joy is a total lack of access to all my soft copy resources. So, when I thought "Never mind, I'll look for some nice pictures to copy for the shields on those Saxon character figures and paint 'em", I then thought "Oh no I flaming well won't, cos all of that stuff is on the PC as pdf files!" Gah!

I'm getting back to a working position, re-installing more or less everything but it's hellishly slow - it took over FIVE HOURS for the Windows updates to sort themsleves out last night!

Oh well! Sassafrassarassum Windows failures!

Thursday 2 August 2012

Lots going on, just not here...

At a glance it might look like I'm not doing a fat lot at the moment. This isn't the case - it's just that none of it is on here!

I've got a bunch of Pictish skirmishers on the go, along with a re-model / repaint of most of my Pictish cavalry.

Saxon command and characters continue to progress as well.

The common theme with these is that I'm working on some artwork for the banners for these units. Now, I'm no great shakes with computer graphics packages, so I've gone the old-fashioned way. I'm drafting these on paper, then inking and painting them. The plan is to scan them, then shrink them to size. It's a lot easier doing knotwork and scrolls on an A4 size version than doing it on the final banner I can tell you!

The kicker is that my scanner is playing silly beggars at the moment. I would have liked to do some work in progress shots so you can see how it's going but that's a non-starter right now.