Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Waterloo Project: Making the buildings for the whole battle

Here is the follow up to my previous post on making the Waterloo terrain colouring the big-battle terrain.

Completed up to the buildings stage
This was hard for me as an artist and very visually stimulated wargamer, but any scaled up wargame has to make a lot of compromises over size versus history versus playability. We did a lot of homework on the sizes and shapes of the built up areas and the ground scale for the game. We concluded that I could just about get away with buildings sized to go with 15mm figures provided I took into account the immediate surroundings of woods, orchards, gardens etc in the the total footprint. That also meant that representing the exact configuration of the farms and chateau buildings would be impossible so I had to settle for something with the right character and look that also did the job. I had no pre-conceived ideas about what to use. We pooled resources but the collection of 15mm buildings we had contained very few that were suitable.

The lightbulb moment came when I remembered I had two sets of each of the series of 15mm Waterloo card buildings produced by Pireme Publishing and marketed by Miniature Wargames magazine quite a few years ago. They produced one for Hougoumont, one for La Haye Sainte (LHS) and one for La Belle Alliance (LBA). These are 1:1 scale at 15mm so you got a lot of buildings for your money and the LBA set was padded out with an indeterminate Waterloo style farm too. So, going back to the premise stated above, I did not get obsessed about following the instructions to produce lovely, but hopelessly oversized replicas, and instead treated it as a creative activity just cutting and sticking the nicely printed components as I needed in order to match the required size and character.
Pireme's Hougoumont pack unopened, but the little diagram shows how extensive it is
My version of Hougoumont from the South East. Yes I know I've got an extra gate
and no North side courtyard but the aim was to accommodate 8 bases of
figures according to Paul's rules.
My version of LHS from the West. Gate and farmhouse are in the correct relationship
 but all the other buildings were too big so represented here by a high wall
The LBA model was also too large so I cut it down to retain the shape but
smaller footprint on the tabletop
Above and below - two views of Plancenoit village
The church is a Hovels 25mm resin model beautifully painted by Kevin East
As you can see from these photos, apart from the church and the small stone cottage in front of it, all the buildings have come from the Pireme kits. What isn't obvious is that across the battlefield all the buildings are glued down to avoid inevitable shifting during the games and some of the roofs come off but others don't. Everything I made had to bear in mind sensible deployment of units in standard base sizes of 60mm x 40mm. That included all courtyards and roads passing between buildings, but I also made some roofs to come off if the building was big enough to put a base inside. As you will see from the game photos it mostly worked out OK. The card the houses are printed on is not very strong but easy to cut. So, especially where roofs came off, I had to reinforce the walls with balsa cut to shape.
Due to the base size necessity and overall footprint Papelotte and La Haie
farms have been combined by using a 15mm resin model, presumably based on LHS
but is made in handy sized components for different configurations. Sorry I've
 forgotten the maker as I bought it at a show many years ago.
 It's beautifully textured so dry brush painting is a dream. Beyond is a
combined Frischermont and Smohain village from Pireme card.
Mont St Jean Farm is made from spares from LHS and shows something I
 did throughout which was to touch up the printed walls and roofs with
thin acrylic paint to make weathering and staining as they are too pristine for
my liking.
Just for fun here is a photo of what MSJ Farm looked like in 2014 when Kevin and I did our battlefield tour.

So you can see mine is nothing like it and I just fall back on the concept of deviation for pragmatic purposes rather than ignorance!
The same kind of resin buildings were used for Merbe Braine and Mon Plaisir
but with different paint jobs
Hougoumont with hedges and orchard now in place
Just a few words about the hedges as they were pretty simple.  They were of two types. Many, particularly around Papelotte, were converted from ones I had made from rubberised horsehair for 20mm scale World War Two games. I split them in half making them slimmer but still fairly tall as we were putting 28mm figures behind them. The rest were made by cutting strips from some green sponge packing I happened to have kept (Yes - hoard it - they always come in handy for something!!!).  All of it was painted a darkish green acrylic base coat and then when dry highlighted with lighter greens. Finally all the upper surfaces were coated with PVA and sprinkled liberally with light green scatter to give the effect of light catching leaves. On various stretches of hedge I altered the profile with the addition of extra foam or bits of tree (see later) so it wasn't too uniform. In fact the hedges leading down the hill to Papelotte should really have been lines of trees and fairly dense foliage but we compromised on practicality by using hedges with a few trees and then declared the enclosed land within as rough ground (see my map in part one of this "how-to")

I was going to go on to talk about the trees but I think this has got long enough now so I'll leave you with a parting shot of more hedges but with troops too. Trees next time.
Start of the battle showing the hedges behind Papelotte
The Prince of Orange gives a Nassau brigade the benefit of his superior wisdom!


  1. Chris,

    Fantastic terrain.


  2. Looking good,very good indeed sir...Bill

  3. Looks superb. Looking forward to seeing the trees!

  4. Ineresting series here. Enjoying reading them.

  5. Excellent work on the terrain Chris!

  6. Great read and ideas and motivation!!!

    1. Unknown - if this is you Gary Stride, good luck with your project.

  7. HA Yes was where is my name lol, in my desperation to track down a PIREME 15mm card Hougoumont I got scammed had to get PAYPAL involved everything, got money back, it must be a collectors item, I cant track one down for love nor money.