Friday 3 December 2021

A Mediaeval Tower

Here's a mediaeval tower I did for Simon Chick (whose photos these are), and it's another of  the models I am proud of. The basis here was the already-nice keep or tower made in hard foam by Hudson and Allen. I improved it in places and added a lot of features large and small: the hoarding round the top, the gothic tower, the palisaded outwork, projections, gun-loops, windows and so on. 

The idea was to make it look like an older structure updated to the tastes of the high gothic period. The tower windows are the strongest feature here. I think I had a model railway church window to start with, then built up gothic frou-frou around and above that before moulding and casting the whole. The painting took a while, as you might expect. looking back I am pleased with the deep shadowing effect where there's a projection. It darkens to almost black, but softly. 

As you can see such a lot of stonework here, it might be a good place to explain how I paint stonework (or tiles, the approach is the same). The starting point is an undercoat of almost black. This is then drybrushed about three times. Each coat is a lighter colour, but also it covers less of each stone than before. Once that's well dried, I pick out some stones in a random pattern, making them variants of the base colour: some browner, some greyer, some yellower, etc. I usually do this with thinned ink or a wash of some kind, so the existing shading remains to a degree. Perhaps 10% of the stones get one colour, 10% another, perhaps 40% altogether. Now you've got a nice "speckled" or "variegated" effect, but a bit garish as yet. The final step is to drybrush a fourth highlight over the whole thing, lighter again in colour and extent. You would think this would look wrong on the stones that are now basically different colours, but in fact this isn't noticeable and it pulls the whole thing together. This technique works, with appropriate colours, for stonework, brickwork, clay tiles, wooden planks or shingles. Just don't do it with slates, because the colour is much more uniform on a slate roof. You will see the technique on a lot of my later models.


  1. That is an exceptionally nice model, I think you are quite right to be proud of it. I saw it on Simon's blog and "in the resin" at the Royal Armouries a few years ago and was very impressed then so it is really interesting to hear how you went about doing it.

  2. Another lovely bit of work John - I wish I had your patience as I suspect a lot of the time, that is one of the main ingredients of a successful model maker!

  3. great to see the tower again John, I love this model!

    1. Thanks Simon, although you should be pretty used to those images as you took them! I don't think I have ever made anything nicer than this one.