Down on the Farm

Last fortnight I was lucky enough to spend a week down in south Wales, on the Gower peninsular. As I was driving around down little country lanes I kept seeing little farm yards and farm buildings, and being a wargamer, I was inspired to recreate it! I ordered some things I’d need whilst I was still on holiday, cleverly timing the deliveries to coincide with my return!

The Concept

Once I was home I started to brainstorm exactly what I wanted from this project. The goal was to make a realistic based farmyard setup, but I also needed to ensure I could store it. I also wanted the flexibility to change the layout etc. I decided to create a semi-modular layout. Four A4 pieces of 2mm MDF (which in hindsight should have been 3mm), each with a building and some walls, with an arrangement that could work in different positions.

The Materials

I had decided to use a set of four simple MDF farmyard buildings from John Banks, an eBay seller who makes simple, but cheap kits. I had previously bought this set of buildings, and once textured and painted they looked good, so I was happy to go with them again. I also picked up a range of resin walls from Debris of War & Total Battle Miniatures. Other material I gathered was teddy bear fur, tree armatures from Woodland Scenics, flock and lots of Polyfilla!

Making a Start

I began by gluing the buildings together and then playing with the layout. I put the four sheets of MDF on the floor and tried different arrangements of walls and buildings. I wanted each tile to be self-contained and characterful, but also for the four tiles to work together as a coherent whole.

Once I was happy with the positions I took a photo, and then drew round the pieces onto the mdf, annotating where necessary.

Building the farm

I textured and upgraded the mdf buildings in my usual way – a coat of Polyfilla, textured rolling pins, and additional details with card and coffee stirrers. The rooftops were detailed with lasercut rooftiles from Charlie Foxtrot models, except for the damaged roof that I built from balsa. A detailed account of how I upgrade MDF buildings can be found here.

The buildings were glued onto the board using a hot glue gun, as were the resin walls (although they were also super-glued where they abutted against another resin wall). At this point I decided to add a lean-to and small woodshed to the side of one of the buildings. They were made from pieces of mdf, then textured with Polyfilla or detailed with coffee stirrers.

The cobblestone in the farmyard were made from a textured wallpaper (link). It was glued down with strong PVA, and then partially covered with Polyfilla to represent muddy areas. I used the end of a paintbrush to create wheel tracks and ruts, then left it to dry. Whilst it dried I weighted it all down (with cans of beans!) to try and stop any warping. As it turned out, there was a little along the edges where the sheets were open (no walls to hold it rigid), but it’s not very noticeable.

The next stage was to glue some sharp sand in place using PVA in the locations where I’d want to have bare earth or grass.

Painting the Farm

Once everything was dry I gave everything a coat of brown spray primer. I usually use a brown emulsion for this stage, but my favourite colour has been discontinued and I haven’t found a replacement yet.

Annoyingly, after I had primed everything, I remembered that I hadn’t built the gates or installed the doors yet. The gates were built from thin strips of balsa, and the doors were the ones provided in the mdf kit but detailed with deeper grooves and coffee stirrers. They were glued in place, then undercoated in brown.

I began by painting the courtyard. I used grey acrylics, stippled on, with various light browns on the soil. Everything was given a wash of Flory ‘Grime’ clay wash, and then drybrushed with tan/buff colours. The buildings were painted either with stone-colour or beige acrylics, washed again with ‘grime’, before the excess was removed with a damp tissue. A little drybrushing was used to add more tonal variation.

The rooftops were either painted with dark grey emulsion or orange-brown acrylic, washed with Agrax Earthshade, and then drybrushed.

Adding Greenery

I created some trees using Woodland Scenics armatures. I glued pieces of rubberised horsehair (it’s called that, but it’s actually rubberised coconut fibre) onto the branches, and sprayed it all brown. I then painted the trunks with greys and greens before using PVA glue to attach coarse green flock (again from Woodland Scenics) to the fibres. Once they were dried I glued on little apples. Theses were made by rolling mustard seeds in red paint.

The bases for the trees were glued in place, but the trees were kept free, so that I can remove them if a squad is in the orchard and the trees are in the way.

The next thing was to add grass. I had the idea to combine flocking with teddy bear fur. Pieces of tan-coloured teddy fur were stained with green emulsion, then glued in place. The edges were blended in with a regular flock mix, which was also applied at various places across the four tiles. Little details like tufts and flowers were glued into position.

The Finishing Touches

I’m a firm believer in the value that adding little details brings to a build. With that in mind, I got in touch with Paul Edwards, the incredibly helpful guy behind Sabotag3d printing. I gave him a list of various farmyard scatter items (water trough, sacks, water pump, beehives etc) and he produced a fantastic set of prints. Once painted they were glued in place, and the project was complete!

I hope that this tutorial has been useful, and given you some ideas that you can incorporate into your own terrain builds. I’m always happy to answer any questions – the best way to get in touch is via my twitter account @Joe_Wargamer

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