Raising a Barn – Adding details to an MDF Kit with @Joe_Wargamer

If you’ve seen my previous articles here, or follow me on Twitter (@Joe_Wargamer), then you’ll know that I’m a big fan of MDF laser cut kits for my WW2 terrain. You’ll also know that I really enjoy adding details to them to lift them up from a simple MDF kit and giving them a greater level of realism.

I ‘hobby-butterfly’ around a little, like every good wargamer, but only within the same war. Taking a pause from some Normandy terrain (which itself was a pause from some Pacific terrain) I thought I’d start my collection of buildings suitable for rural Germany (and even the Ardennes). I had my eye on some excellent Warbases kits that had been recently released, so I figured now was an ideal time to pick them up and make a start.

The kit I’m showing you in this article is actually the third German building I put together. The other two can be seen here.




I did some research into German barns to see how they were built, and noticed that very often they were timber framed buildings with brick infill. So, I decided that would be the subject of this build.

Recently I’ve been deviating from the standard instructions when I build MDF kits, in that I prefer having a single exterior structure with removable interior floors, rather than separate upper levels. So, you’ll see in this guide that I’ve modified the kit to allow for this. I like it because it allows me to have a consistent finish for the exterior of the building, and not have to worry about matching up the exteriors, or having a split across the rendering.

So, enough preamble. On to the build!

You will need:

· An MDF Kit. For this German Barn, I used this Warbases kit https://warbases.co.uk/product/german-barn/

· Adhesive. I used industrial strength superglue for the initial build, and PVA for reinforcing.

· Masking Tape

· Ready mixed filler

· Greenstuffworld Textured Roller (Small Brick)

· Coffee Stirrers

· Brick embossed plasticard (I used 7mm scale Flemish Bond from Slaters)

· Laser cut roof tiles (these ones are from Warbases)

· Paint – household emulsion and acrylics

· Washes – Citadel Agrax Earthshade and Athonian Camoshade

· Scrap card


1. I started by gluing together the ground floor walls of the kit. I use superglue for all my builds – strong and quick, so I can work at a decent pace. I give all joins a good coat of PVA afterwards and leave it overnight).



2. The upper walls were then glued on top, without using the interior floor piece.



3. Often these types of barns have a stone base, so I used masking tape to mark out where I wanted the filler to go. I covered the windows, overlapping by a few mm.




4. I then applied the filler using a palette knife, but you could use a scrap of card if needed. Aim for a generally smooth, even finish, although a few rough bits just adds texture.

5. Before the filler has dried, it’s time to apply the texture. I used a textured rolling pin from Greenstuffworld. Use a little water to dampen the roller before rolling it across the filler. It needs to be damp to prevent the filler from sticking to it, but too wet and it makes the filler run and lose definition. Try and find a happy balance! Make sure you wash the roller before the filler dries, too.



6. Once the filler has been textured I removed the masking tape and allowed it to dry fully. Now was a good time to apply some PVA to the joints and leave to dry overnight.




7. To do the timber frame of the building to took out my bag of 1000s of coffee stirrers that I picked up cheaply from eBay. Studying photographs of real barns to see a typical layout, I drew a guide on the kit and then proceeded to superglue the wood into place. Before gluing each piece I roughly chamfered the edges with a craft knife. This gives a better texture for painting, and a more realistic finish.




8. The next task was to apply the brick embossed plasticard. I usually use a Greenstuff roller to make brick textures, but as the bricks were between the timber frame, and needed to be flush, I wasn’t able to use my regular technique. So, I ordered some sheets of 7mm scale (00 gauge) embossed card from Slaters. It cut very easily, and so it was a straightforward, if somewhat time consuming, task.




9. The last few bits of external detailing were next. Scrap card, coffee stirrers and matchsticks were used to add details to the doors & windowsills etc. The doors themselves were also scratched and gouged a little to give more detail.



10. At this point I took the inner floor from the upper level (remember, I hadn’t used it in Stage 2), and then trimmed it slightly shorter on all edges so that it fitted nicely into the building. Small scrap pieces of mdf were glued inside to make ledges for supporting the floor. A piece of mdf was temporarily glued to the upper surface of the floor to allow me to remove it easily – it’ll be replaced with an interior wall when I come to detail the interior at a later point.



11. The next stage was to apply rooftiles to the roof. I used some sheets of laser-cut rooftiles (these ones were from Warbases), and glued them using strong PVA. I made ridge tiles from some folded strips of card, and stuck coffee stirrers on the gable ends to add a trim to the structure.



12. So, that was all the construction done. This is how it looked at this point



13. When painting my buildings I try and do the messiest parts first. With that in mind I decided to start with the brick work. The first stage was to paint the bricks with a dark, slightly red brown, and add patches of similar tones. I used an emulsion from Wilko (Nutmeg Spice).



14. For the mortar I mixed up some filler with a few drops of sandy-yellow acrylic paint (I used Vallejo Iraqi Sand) and a few drops of water. Mix it until it’s a consistent colour, and has the consistency of porridge. Using an old brush, I applied this mixture to a few panels, and then, before it dried, I used a piece of kitchen towel to wipe away most of it. The aim is to leave the mixture in the engraved lines, as well as slightly change the colour of the bricks. Varying the amount of wiping allows you to introduce even more tonal variation.



15. Once the brick work was dry I painted the stone base with a medium grey, before applying a wash of diluted Agrax Earthshade and then a drybrush of lighter grey. The timber frame was painted with Vallejo German Camo Black Brown (822). Diluting the paint in places and allowing the colour of the wood to come through again adds more visual interest.



16. The roof was then painted with Vallejo Orange Brown (981), before being washed in Agrax Earthshade. When dry it was drybrushed with lightened Orange Brown, and weathered with streaks of Agrax and Athonian Camoshade, and dots of lichen (Citadel Karak Stone paint)



17. The woodwork was given a light drybrush of Karak Stone to accentuate the edges and age the wood.



18. Then, I applied weathering in the form of washes. Streaks of Agrax and Athonian were applied, concentrating on places where water would run down etc. Athonian Camoshade was also applied around the stone base to represent algae, and then the base was also given a light dusting of sandy-brown to represent splashed mud etc that helps to ‘ground’ the model.



19. Once it was all dry I sat back contented, and then went to bed – realising it was later than I had thought!



So, if you’d like to add additional detail to your German Barn MDF kit (or any kit really, hopefully this guide will help you to do that.


Joe Bilton

@Joe_Wargamer

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