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3 - Detailing the Adobe

Adobe Building A
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10 March 2000converted to new format
4 February 1999page first published

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The Doors and Windows

upstairs door and window

I decided I liked the way the "wood" looked where the light tan/sandstone mix had accidentally touched on the "black" windows and doors - made it look like deeply weathered wood. So first I touched up the doors and windows with black. This meant covering any "solid" areas of color that I'd accidentally gotten in the wrong place, but not trying to remove the drybrushed areas. It also meant trying to decide what the dividing line was between building and window or door - some of the edges were soft, so it wasn't clear-cut. Then I came back with one more drybrushing, using the same tan/sandstone mix, keeping it light.

The Stripes

a subtle red-and-black stripe

By this time, I'd decided who was going to live in this house - some of my Gretchen. And since some of them had red-and-black spikes on their helmets, it made sense to add some red-and-black to this building.

I wanted to make this look like something Gretchen might have painted, so I rather casually used some red paint to put a broad stripe around the lower story of the house. I made sure it was roughly straight, but just eyeballed it - no measuring, no lines, nothing exact. I also deliberately let the paint go on unevenly, again trying for a "hand painted" look rather than a "mechanical airbrushed" appearance. Then I followed up with a narrow black stripe down the middle of the first broad red stripe.

The Balcony

the balcony

It was clear, due to some depressions on the model, that the "master" building had had some "attachments" - there was a hollow near one window that suggested there might have been an awning there, and some holes beneath the second-story door where a balcony or stairs might have been anchored. I decided to skip an awning, but having a door on the second floor looked pretty goofy even for I decided to scratch-build a balcony.

"Scratch build" is perhaps too grand a word. I started with a bag of wooden craft sticks (available in the U.S. at most craft stores and Wal-Mart). These sticks are roughly the size of a wooden match, with square ends.

Since I use craft sticks for lots of purposes in my terrain building, I also happen to have a nifty tool which makes it easy to mass-cut lots of sticks to the same size - it's called The Chopper,, is intended for use by railroad hobbyists, and is made by NorthWest Short Line. It basically consists of a cutting surface and a razor blade attached to a handle. Plastic guides let you set up a "stop" so that you can cut many objects to the same length.

Having said all that, The Chopper is definitely over-kill for this simple project! All I wanted was a balcony large enough for a Gretchen to stand on - about 14 sticks, cut 1 3/8" long. I didn't even want the sticks to all be the same length (Gretchen built this, remember?). I also cut three more sticks, to use as supports to hold the balcony.

I wanted the sticks to look more like the color of the doors and windows, so I painted them black, then drybrushed them with mink tan. (I thought it would be easier to paint them now, than to wait after they were on the house.)

Next, I took the three "support" sticks and carefully pushed them into the building. I had been worried that I might have to drill holes, but I found that the foam - while firm - let me insert the sticks if I used slow but constant force. I tried to make sure the holes were horizontal. Then I pulled the sticks back out.

I assembled the balcony by laying the support pieces down, then using superglue to attach the 14 "deck" sticks. When everything was dry, I carefully put superglue into the holes I had already made, and pushed the entire balcony into position.

(In the writing of it, this sounds so complicated. It wasn't. It was a piece of cake.)

The Railing

the railing

There was one more part of the building that was bugging me - there was a second-floor door opening onto the lower part of the roof, and it seemed to me that even Gretchen would build some kind of fence to keep everyone from falling off. So I decided to make a railing.

I cut and painted seven sticks as I did for the balcony. Four of the sticks were short, while three were longer. I then used the same "push into the foam" technique to insert the four corner sticks, glued them in place, and then superglued the railings into place.

Voila! Even easier than the balcony.

The Base

a grassy base

That took care of about everything except finishing off the base. This I did in steps:

  • painting an area thickly with brown paint
  • applying green flocking while the paint was wet
  • letting that dry, then proceeding to another area

I like to use the brown paint effectively as both color and glue. Brown works since, if (when) the flock wears off, then it looks like dirt underneath. Any medium brown will do - I happen to use Americana Mississippi Mud (I keep tons of it around, since I use it for all my flocking).

After I flocked everything, I went back with a brush, some paint, and some finger-pinches of flocking and filled in any spots that got missed, or that didn't "take" the first time.

And a Protective Coat

finished Gretchen house

I finish the whole thing off with several coats of clear protective spray, for two reasons - to protect the paint from the rigors of storage and handling, and to finish anchoring down the flock. (The clear coat is absorbed by the flocking, so it doesn't make the grass funny-looking, and it really finishes the "glue job" of the brown paint.)