Saturday, 17 March 2018

Building a star fort - Part 2

Yesterday I spent the whole evening finishing off my star fort with a series of washes and dry brushing. The fort itself has been constructed so it can represent both larger and smaller star forts by adding up to three bastions.

In terms of constraints, the fort construction had to fit and line up with my 6 inch gridded tabletop, and accommodate my troops which are on 4x3 inch bases. This has meant the fort is a tad stylised and geared towards the practicalities of wargaming.

The completed fort with Spencer-Smith miniatures defending
A different configuration of a smaller fort with a supporting redoubt
So, here are the remaining steps I used to complete the fort and its bastions. See the fort construction part 1 post here.

With the fort covered (in the now dry) paper towel small bits of the thinest available balsa wood is randomly stuck on to represent the stone work. You could use cardboard as an alternative, I chose balsa wood as it's a slightly thicker and gets picked out better when dry brushing.
Once all the balsa stonework has been added. The pieces are varnished to provide a seal. Past experience has taught me to always do this step. It stops any later leakage of colour from any components used to construct the terrain piece.
Everything gets a coat of mid-grey paint.
With the construction completed and the base coat of paint dry. The remaining steps are just about apply colour to create some depth, pick out details and give an impression of detail when there is none on the model. My painting style uses quick dry brushing and wash methods and is very loose (and easy).

To break up the mass of grey I added some brown to the grey paint and painted the centre yard and fortification's terreplein (the horizontal surface of a rampart on which cannon are placed and protected by a parapet)
All surfaces now get a wash of black. Sometimes I will do two washes of black to get the darkness I need before building up the colours with dry brushing.
The fort now gets a dry brushing of the original mid-grey. To add some more depth of colour to the terreplein a wash of sandy mid-brown was applied. I did not plan to do this, but it just did not look quite right and something else was needed.
Then using a thinned down black paint the stonework is picked out by going around the balsa stonework pieces and  painting the outline of stonework on the flat surface. I do this quickly with a fine brush trying to avoid any uniformity. You do not need to be too precise, as being precise can jar with the overall look.

The entry gate is painted dark brown, then a mid brown is painted on in strips using a detail brush. Depending upon the look I sometime choose to paint the odd line with a light tan brown to highlight details.

With the thinned black paint dry. I go over the painted stonework with a thinned blue to give a variation to the colour.  While difficult to see it in the pictures it does help to provide some more depth and softens the lines. Finally a light sand colour is lightly dry brushed to pick out edges and add another colour.
I will occasionally continue with dry brushing or washing selected areas where I have missed areas in my haste or some part does not look quite right. But I keep reminding myself this is meant to be a practical piece of wargaming terrain and not to fuss over detail.

A final coat of matt varnish is applied to protect the terrain.
And on to the tabletop
The quick and loose painting of detail gives the right impression when wargaming unless you choose to look closely.

With the fort completed and ready for a French Indian War game. Total cost to build is between $25 to $35 as I pick up all the materials from the local hardware store.

I now need to turn my attention to making the besiegers terrain features of saps and parallels. Storming this fort will be no easy task!


  1. Looks terrific! Really terrific!

    A new battle awaits you.

  2. Great looking fort! Nice tutorial as well. Hopefully we'll get see this in a game soon.

    1. Thanks. There will be a few games to work out the rules. Need to get going on the parallels.

  3. A really splendid piece, clever from conception to execution.

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you. It was a fun project to do.

  5. Peter- excellent effort there on your Star Fort- do very much like your techniques and use of materials and finish. Spot on! Cheers. KEV.