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Watchtower Tutorial – Part II – Detail

Watchtower - Detail Stage CompleteIn this part of the tutorial, we’ll be adding detail to our watchtower that we built in Part I. By the end of this stage, your watchtower will look something similar to the one on the left, which I’ve posed with a couple of Glade Guard to give an idea of proportions. I’ve sprayed this one in black, ready for painting (coming in Part III).

What we’ll be adding

  • Front door
  • Trapdoor in the roof
  • Brickwork
  • Arrow slit
  • Moss (or ivy)
What you’ll need
  • The unused chipboard pieces from Part I
  • Some regular card stock
  • Sand, and a box for it
  • Glue
  • Black primer spray
My local Jo-Ann Fabrics sells big bags of sand (for making pretty flower arrangements I think) that cost $3. Glue I’m using is Elmer’s Glue-All, and I’m using Citadel’s Chaos Black spray, but any spray that works on card is fine. The chipboard and card stock is from the same pack I mentioned in Part I.

Stage 1 – Moss

Watchtower - Detail Stage 1aTechnically, the moss is going to be added at several points. One thing I like to do when I’m gluing anything is to put more glue on than I need, and glue some extra texture on at the same time. As I mentioned in Part I, I start this when I’m gluing the roof to the tower, as seen in this image.

Make sure when you are applying sand to use a solid container to catch all the sand in. That way you can pour as much as you like on to ensure coverage of the glue, and then tip the remainder back into your sand container.

After pouring, leave the sand on the tower for at least 15 minutes (there are other stages which can be completed during that time).

Watchtower - Detail Stage 1bOne of things you’ll notice once you tap off all the sand is that it didn’t stick everywhere there was glue. In fact, over the course of making the model, little bits will continue to flake off.

Don’t panic!

This is pretty normal, and there plenty of ways to deal with it that I’ll go into during each stage. I’m unconcerned with the sand underneath the eaves of the roof because you won’t ever really see under there during the normal course of events.

Now that we’ve got the tower glued together with some moss on the eaves, let’s add some bricks.

Stage 2 – Brickwork

Watchtower - Detail Stage 2aTake some of your regular card stock–I’m using white to make it easy to see in the tutorial, but you can use any color as it’s going to be painted anyway (black is maybe a better choice)–and cut a strip that is 1″ wide, assuming that you’re using a piece 12″x12″. Then slice your 1″ wide strip into brick shapes that are ½” high.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 2bYou should end up with twenty-four bricks that are 1″x½”. Take seven of these bricks and slice them in half again, creating little half-brick squares that are ½”x½” in size. We’re going to use these to create something of a feature corner on one vertex of the tower, and some of the remainder will form little features on the sides to help break the monotony of the walls of the watchtower. Think of these as being similar to the outlines an artist sketches in to suggest a feature, without drawing every aspect of it.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 2cArrange the bricks as shown – this will make it easier for you to ensure you stick them correctly once you’ve applied the glue. As you can see, I have a half-brick beside a full brick, and then alternating a full brick beside a half. Imagine that the dividing line up the middle is actually a corner edge of the tower. As you can see, the line of bricks is 6″ high, which is exactly the height of our tower. You may need to trim the top bricks a little, depending on how much sand you have in your eaves.

Here’s a graphical view of what the tower might look like if you added all the decorations before you assembled it. This is roughly how I laid out my tower, and it doesn’t include any of the locations for the moss, which I’ll show a little later. This is to give you an idea of where to place your bricks. Door and window later.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 2dDraw a line about 1″ from an edge of the tower on each face of the tower that you’ll apply the brickwork to (the first two faces in the diagram above). Apply your glue all the way up the tower from the edge to that line. Then take one half of your line of bricks and start sticking them from the bottom up.

Once you’ve finished with that side, rotate the tower and do the same with the other bricks, making sure that whatever was a full brick on one side is a half-brick on the other. Then glue and place your decorative bricks as shown in the graphic above. Remember that for the decorative bricks, less is definitely more.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 2eWhile your glue is still tacky, apply some more up the edges of the tower that don’t have bricks on them, as well as on the sides of the walls of the roof. This is going to be used for more moss/ivy. It’s also a good idea to have a few patches dotted around the walls as well, and in strategic places on some of the bricks you’ve just stuck on.

Get your plastic container out and pour sand over all the sticky parts that you’ve just created, making sure to get plenty on there. Make sure and cover everywhere and rotate gently to give the sand a chance to stick. Again, some will fall off after, but don’t worry. While the glue is drying, we’re going to make the front door (so you can get your garrison in there during a battle).

Stage 3 – The Door

Watchtower - Detail Stage 3aThere are many different ways to make a door, but I personally like a nice arched look. We’re going to make one that will look like it is wooden with a stone surround. Take some card (the same that you made your bricks out of) and draw a line with your ruler 3″ from one edge. I’ve shown one of my Glade Guard here to give you an idea of the height – the door will end up a little bit smaller than this. Don’t worry about the width of the door just yet, as this will be dictated by the arch that you put at the top of the door. You can of course make a smaller door if you play mainly with Dwarves or Halflings, or you want that sort of feel.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 3b


The next step is to draw the arch. There are a couple of ways to draw the arch, and the method you choose depends on what tools you have available to you. In my kitchen cupboards live many jars of food, spices and condiments and so when I need to draw any kind of circle I grab a lid, can or jar and draw around it. As you can see from these photos, you’ll need two things to trace around, one slightly smaller than the next. If you don’t have a lot of handy circular things lying around, you can use a compass. You’re aiming for a difference in diameter of about a ¼” which will be the width of your stone surround – feel free to adjust to make it as wide as you like. Place the larger lid against the line you drew on your card and next to one edge, then trace a semi-circle around with a pencil.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 3cDo the same with the smaller lid, trying to make sure that your lids are centered in the same spot. You should get a nice looking arch as you can see in this image. Continue the pencil lines from the arch right down to the bottom of the card, and on both sides. Then use your craft knife to cut out the entire door.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 3eOnce you have a door shape, use your craft knife to slowly and gently cut out the surround. Put the surround to one side for a moment. Take your door and place it on your tower where you want it to, then trace around it with a pencil. This is so you know where to put your glue.


Watchtower - Detail Stage 3fPut the door on your cutting mat and slice it in half vertically with your craft knife. Then slice each half in half, and then in half again (all vertically). This will give you 8 “planks” that make up your door. You can cut less if you want the planks to look thicker. Now apply the glue on your tower where you just drew the outline of your door–make sure and fill the entire shape with glue–then place your planks on the door.

I find it easiest to start with the two center ones, and work outward. Leave a little gap between each plank so that it feels more three-dimensional. After you’ve glued all the planks on, take the surround and lay it over the top of the planks so that it overlaps. Your arch will jut out below the bottom of the tower as shown in this diagram. Cut off the bits that stick out. Apply glue liberally to the top of the planks where the surround will be stuck, as well as to the wall of the tower just above and around the arch. Stick the surround to the door, and then sprinkle the area above and around the arch with sand. This should not only cover the gap between the surround and the tower, but also make for a natural moss or ivy pattern once you paint it.

Stage 4 – Trapdoor

Watchtower - Detail Stage 4aRemember those squares of chipboard you cut out when you were making the roof? Now’s the time to reuse them! Take one of the squares and score along it in five equal lengths to create the look of planks. Use the back of your craft knife as the blunter end should help peel off a little wider amount of card, thus creating a better groove. Once you’ve finished scoring, pick up the square and bend it gently with your fingers to help split the planks apart.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 4bNow take another one of the squares and slice four lengths off it. As you can see from this image, the width of each one is somewhere between ⅛” and ¼”. These pieces are going to form the stone frame for the trapdoor, so you can make them whatever width you feel is aesthetically pleasing.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 4cPick a spot on the roof of your tower to stick the trapdoor, bearing in mind that it should be coming up somewhere near a wall of the tower and on the inside. Apply a liberal amount of glue, and stick the door and the surround. You can also apply some sand here if you like, although I felt that this area of the Watchtower was likely to be well-traveled and thus unlikely to have anything growing on it.

Watchtower - Detail Stage 5aWhile this was meant to be an arrowslit, it actually turned out to be a lot wider than you would realistically build one. However, I’m going to continue to call it an arrowslit for the purposes of this tutorial. Cut out a card shape that you want to use as your slit – in this case, I created a pointed arch with a flat sill. Stick it on the side that doesn’t have the door or the feature brick corner (see earlier diagram).

Watchtower - Detail Stage 5c



The final step is to apply glue and sand everywhere that you want to have your moss or ivy growing. In this case, I’ve done it up the side of the roof, both inside and out, around the door, on the bricks and on the walls. This is a good opportunity to apply some more sand to any areas where it might have flaked off already too.

Watchtower Detail Complete

Watchtower - Detail Stage CompleteOnce the glue has dried, take your watchtower outside and place it inside an old box and spray it black. You may need to carefully lift it in order to spray every side and corner of it. This spray step is helpful in helping the sand remain stuck and in sealing up the card to receive the paint that we’re going to add in the next tutorial.

Buying Warhammer Stuff on eBay

I’ve ordered a few things from eBay in the last couple of weeks. There are two main issues that I’ve run into.

  1. People paint things really badly so stuff needs to be stripped
  2. It’s hard to tell which army book is the current one

I’ve found a few good resources that hopefully will prove useful and thought I’d share them. The Dakka Dakka forum has a great thread on stripping paint, which I hope to put to good use on these Dryads.

As you can see, the paint was smeared on (at least it was a nice color!) and the model was stuck together without any prep. You should work on the assumption that anything you buy from eBay will have just as bad a paint job, unless they show some really good close-up photos of the miniatures.

Also, be prepared for bad smells. Other people may not have the same living habits that you do, and the miniatures you get may smell of smoke, pets or even just chemicals from non-acryclic paints. You have been warned.

As for army books, Wikipedia has an excellent list of each Warhammer Army book, including it’s ISBN, what edition it came out for and when it was superseded. This makes it easy to identify whether someone is trying to sell you the latest version of the book or an older (and obsolete) copy.