Work in Progress

TheTowers of Ilium

Posted by steve_pickstock on 05 Jul 2022, 05:42

Well, one tower actually.

Hello all, this is a project I completed in our hiatus.

While I was at the Phalanx show, in St Helens, I did the ‘last walk round’ thing, where you’ve sorted your shopping list out and you’re having a womble round just looking at stuff.

I’ve not had much in the way of laser cut MDF buildings before, but I have had some items from Blotz (http://www.blotz.co.uk) before. I purchased some of their 15mm buildings before for use with the Tanks game, and some cemetery railings and gate for with an Undead army (note to self – go back and do an upgrade on that stuff).

Anyway, as I went past their stall, I noticed that they had these walls on it. I have been thinking about something like this for a while, they would go with the Amazons and the other Dark Age/Heroic Age Greek Mythological stuff. So, I stopped and had a look. Plus, I had about £30 in my pocket that I hadn’t spent.

It just had to be done.

So, I bought two short wall sections, a tower, and a short wall section with a gate - just to see what they were like. It was only when I got home, that I realised that I had bought enough elements to make the South Tower and gateway of Troy VI (generally considered to be the Homeric city) as it appears on the cover of the Osprey book – Fortress 17 Troy c. 1700–1250 BC
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The next day, I took some time out of working on the Empire army, and tried to put one of the wall sections together. Right off the mark, there were three things which became obvious.
1. These things are really well engineered, thoughtfully planned out and they would be strong structures that interlocked well and looked the business.
2. After a couple of false starts with putting it together I got the wall assembled, but for the other elements – the Tower and the Gateway, I was going to need the instructions.
3. The instructions were not available as the Blotz new website had not gone live yet. It was due be live that Sunday, but wasn’t while I was tinkering.

Still the wall didn’t look too bad,
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Some of the obvious gaps needed filling, and there is a decorative strip that runs along the base of the crenelations, but as that is illustrated in the Osprey image as being of a different colour, which I like the idea of – I would leave that on the sprue, paint it separately and then glue it on last (and I decided I would do that for all of the other elements like that). But I could see the potential. Certainly, Mrs P liked them, as she agreed I could buy some more – “It will do for your Christmas present!”. :yeah:

There are obvious issues with laser cut MDF, and one of the biggest is the smooth surfaces. Lasers can show the outline of the detail, but it can’t add texture. Plus, there are all those slots to conceal.

The best example of this was the walk-ways on the walls. I think that these were probably paving stones originally, but I opted to use ready-mixed filler spread out to cover the slots and then burnished to get it as smooth as possible and like a rough cement type of floor.

I then painted it, in a Linen coloured craft paint.
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Which I also used as the colour of the stucco on the crenelations.
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I was deliberately enthusiastic/rough in painting this on, to get the effect of stucco, and I think it looks okay. I think they probably maintained this colour as a way of emphasising the fortifications to any enemies, as a kind of status thing. (You find that in neolithic monuments, where they’re cut into chalk, the colour of the chalk showing through emphasises the status of the monument)

But the chances of maintaining a walk-way because of the foot traffic is pretty remote, so the walk-way received a thinned coat of my dirty wash, especially right against the crenelations and on the very edge, and then, when the wash dried, I dry-brushed the linen colour back over it.
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The rest of the stone work in the walls, in fact all of the stone work on all of the elements, received a base coat of – wait for it – yellow ochre!

It will provide a good base coat for washing and dry-brushing up to pale stones. I used some Vallejo and some craft paint. (If you haven’t ever made MDF buildings before, the bare material is really, really thirsty, it absolutely absorbs paint, the cut edges especially.)

Thinking about how to make these elements ‘pop’, I started looking at the doors and gates.

There are three door ways in the tower, and the two halves of the gate way – and of course I lost the one from the bottom of the tower! (It’s somewhere on the bench.)

To improve the doors, I started by slicing up some coffee stirrers into strips of various widths, and then placed them onto a piece of blue painter’s tape.
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From this, as you can see, I cut three doors, applied ledgers to the back, painted them Vallejo English Uniform, washed them with GW Nuln Oil, and dry-brushed them with the Linen craft paint.
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Once this was done, I masked the doorway off with masking tape, so that I can paint the stone work and not have to redo the door. In fact I later masked off all of the doorways, windows, that have architectural details around them and the upper areas of the crenelations – so that the dry-brushing didn’t get on to the surfaces, which I wanted to keep smooth.

The valves (I think that that is the correct term) of the gate, had engraved detail on one side and were bare on the other.
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I went over the laser-cut details on the valves of the gate with a craft knife and an awl and deepened it. I scribed some detail onto the back side of each gate piece, then added ledgers on both sides from coffee stirrers, pressed some details into the exterior face, (the backsides of them are inside the tunnel, so less visible) painted, stained and dry-brushed them.

This is the gateway part built, with the doors in place, with a 20mm orc to show the scale.
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Some more pictures.
The tower.
This is the base of the tower with a room at wall-walk level.
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This is the room on the next level above, and I have done the interior with the Linen craft paint for the floor, a red-ochre walk (based on Minoan wall arts) with a cream border at the top and bottom.
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I will tidy that top edge up, before it’s done.

The top of the tower – the step along the base of the long walls is the top of a tab that allows the tower to slot together.

It has also had a second coat of paint, but this shows what I was saying about how ‘thirsty’ MDF is.
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The fully assembled tower – there seems to be some debate about the actual height of the Troy VI structure, but this allows all the options.
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Right! Having gotten everything assembled. I undercoated the wall piece in the yellow ochre, washed it with the dirty wash, and then while that was drying picked out some of the stones with un-diluted Nuln Oil, and a 50/50 mix of Agrax Earthshade and Vallejo Red Ochre. I dabbed that on with a brush and then dabbed it off with my finger. The effect I was looking for were stones that had iron or or some other discolouration.

Then I went over all the wall sections with a dry-brush of the yellow ochre again, then Vallejo Iraqi Sand and lastly a craft paint called Antique White. I was going to throw some Buff and Deck Tan in but decided that less was more at this point.

A Short Wall section, the Tower, and the Gate section from the outside, and I think I managed to get all of the dry-brushing consistent across all of the elements. Cyclops by Alliance.
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The two Short Wall sections on either side of the Gateway, with an Amazon Warrior from the Alliance Mounted Amazons set for scale. You can see that I also added some door pillars to the gateway, I just felt that it finished it off better.
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Here she is again, looking at the base of the Tower,
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The Gateway before dry-brushing.
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The back of the Tower with the doorway masked off.
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The two upper floors of the Tower showing the accent colour, a deep red ochre.
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The back side of the wall and gate sections.
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Okay, so at this point in the story, it’s two weeks (Sunday 3rd July) after Phalanx and I am just about calling these done. There are a few more details but I need to get back onto doing ECW figures.
I painted up some figures from Caesar H021 Mycenaean Chariots for the pictures,

The Gate section – closed and open.
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From the inside
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One of the Short Wall sections from the outside and from the inside.
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The Tower
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I put the sections together as they would be if you were looking from the Citadel of Trpy VI, towards the South Gate, with the Tower over-looking the Gate. Two young women are bringing jars of something back to their dwellings, along with their charges, a warrior greets them as they pass and, on the wall-walk above, a hero is heading into the tower for something. Image

It's not a great picture but the hero I painted up
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Is based on this
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I came across it on the Hellenic Armors group on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/HellenicArmors
Stunning modern reproductions, they made me think about how I paint figures from this period.

Thanks for looking in and I hope you enjoyed it.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by Santi Pérez on 05 Jul 2022, 13:47

Wonderful Trojan tower and wall, Steve. They look great. :drool: :drool: :drool:

Santi.
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Santi Pérez  Spain
 
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Posted by Peter on 07 Jul 2022, 13:35

Santi Pérez wrote:Wonderful Trojan tower and wall, Steve. They look great. :drool: :drool: :drool:

Santi.

I agree for 100%! :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by Xantippos on 22 Aug 2022, 07:49

Tremendous realism, great job!
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Posted by sberry on 22 Aug 2022, 08:57

I love this project, it looks very interesting and covers a period that you don't see that often!
(But how is it possible that I didn't notice it before? The only explanation seems to be that I was on holiday at the beginning of July).
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sberry  Germany
 
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Posted by MABO on 17 Sep 2022, 08:10

Any news, about this project already?
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MABO  Europe
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 17 Sep 2022, 15:06

MABO wrote:Any news, about this project already?

Nothing, at the moment. Life has intervened in a most disruptive manner. An annoying chest infection, stupid temperatures making the attic too hot to work in comfortably, preparations for a weekend away at an English Civil War battle, and a host of other things that have just got in the way.
I will let you know as soon as I do some more which should be around Christmas.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by MABO on 18 Sep 2022, 07:59

Thanks for the update. Good luck for the ECW!
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 21 Dec 2022, 16:53

So, after months of nothing happening on this project - the postman delivered a load more pieces. This was my Christmas present, that Mrs P said I could have back in June.
There was a long wall, some ruined wall sections, a section of wall with steps, some 30 degree bends (internal and external) and a bastion.
I will get into these in the New Year, but plans are forming already.
Initially the aim is to finish these to match the previously made pieces, but then, once they are done, I want to build the barbican opposite the East tower (unless Blotz make one of their own). The final goal is to have a simulation of the walls around the citadel of Troy VI.
More when I get started.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 21 Dec 2022, 22:50

This first image shows the walls (thick green line) I am concerned with.
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These walls extend around the citadel, shown by the earlier walls in yellow. In squares F9 and G9 are a bastion-tower-gateway ...
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... which I will now be able to complete.
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('scuse the cyclops)

The barbican (square K6) is going to be trickier.
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Blotz don't do one of these, but I'm looking to build one using already existing components and some judicious chopping and filling.
It's covered by a second tower - square J7.

So that is basically the project for the New Year - along with all the other stuff - but I am looking forwards to these.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by Michael Robert on 22 Dec 2022, 12:50

Great plans Steve,
you could also obtain more inspiration from the works of Mr Cryns. He didn't actually focus on Troy but another Greek Illyrian city (siege by Alexander), but it is close enough.
I really like your approach
Cheers
Michael
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Michael Robert  France

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Posted by Peter on 24 Dec 2022, 13:09

Great map indeed! Like it! :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by steve_pickstock on 15 Jan 2023, 01:58

Michael Robert wrote:Great plans Steve,
you could also obtain more inspiration from the works of Mr Cryns. He didn't actually focus on Troy but another Greek Illyrian city (siege by Alexander), but it is close enough.
I really like your approach
Cheers
Michael

I am quite happy to admit my belief that Mr Cryns is an avatar of Hephaestus - the artificer of the Olympian gods. I am a great admirer of his work and knowledge.

This week saw the arrival of the remaining components of the wall set up from Blotz - https://blotz.co.uk/product-category/wa ... alls-20mm/ and some A4 sheets (10) of 3mm MDF from an Amazon seller called the Laser Smith .

After much humming and ah-ing, I decided that the best way to build the barbican feature was not to try to adapt and combine Blotz components as I had first thought I would, but to scratch build it instead. However I would also combine in this, some Blotz parts to make sure that it would match the other elements.

After a couple of attempts planning it on paper, I took a piece of MDF sheet and began drafting the plan. This wasn't as daunting as it sounds as all the thicknesses are 3mm in thickness and I had the original parts to work off.
Here is the basic sheet - the base on which I shall build this.
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The East gate of Troy VI has a definite kink in it due to the curve of the hill. I decided that that would complicate it too much and would add the 'kink' using a component - Corner Wall - 30 Degree External
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and build the element straight. It might not be historically accurate but it's my sanity.

I scanned this plan and i=used the image to draw a line version in Powerpoint to demonstrate what I am attempting.
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A and B on the drawing are parts from these two elements - End Caps (Pair)
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These will be embedded in the new element and set the levels that I need to work to, and also they will serve to connect the elements when they're set up on the table.
The entrance to the gateway is marked which leads into the first tunnel (C) with a gate. The entrance turns left to a second door and tunnel creating a murder hole for the defenders to drop all kinds of nastiness on the attackers.
The question mark is where I have not decided yet what to do.
My original idea was to add a doorway in the back wall suggesting a chamber inside the wall.
However I also thought perhaps I could build in a set of steps - such as these
Image and that is kind of what I am aiming at, if only because it will break up the huge expanse of walkway. But, we will see how it goes.

Obviously I will update this with pictures as it goes.
Thanks for looking in, take care all, Pickers.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 15 Jan 2023, 15:08

After much soul-searching last night and this morning, I sat down and re-drew the floor plan to incorporate the kink in the wall (yeah, me and my sanity - we have this love/hate relationship. Sometimes it wins, sometimes I win).

It also allowed me to have a serious think about how and where I would build the steps in.
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I'm happier with this. There are no kinks in the outer wall, it's one long face, and I think in terms of construction, it makes more sense.

So the next stage is to start cutting and engraving walls, removing the locator tabs from the Blotz bits (I want to write that as Blotz bitz) I am going to use, and start getting this puppy together.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by Peter on 20 Jan 2023, 16:22

Looking good so far! :thumbup:
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Peter  Belgium

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Posted by OwenChpw on 21 Jan 2023, 05:34

Love the detailed plannning and the worn stonework of the walls. The Hellenistic armour looks good too!
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 22 Jan 2023, 15:08

So, I finally settled on a floor plan that I liked, was accurate all round for what I wanted,
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I apologise for the lighting of these pictures, I'm working on the dining room table - the attic is too damned cold! It's the same basic layout as before, but a bit more refined. The last layout is mostly accurate but I will use that for cutting out the piece for the walkway (any thoughts and prayers will be appreciated when it comes ton that one!).

These are the parts that I have used from Blotz elements in place on the plan.
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There is a connector section on each end and one of their steps sections in the middle. There aren't any steps on any of the diagrams, (i guess access was by ladders, possibly up through the towers) but I am including these a) for access for the little plastic men, and b) to break up the vast expanse of the walk way on top of the wall.

And this last picture shows the new section connected to the tower that I assembled this morning.
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It shows how tall this puppy is going to be, and though this tower was bought to be paired with this gate - this is tower in J7 of the map above, there will be a wall section connecting the two.

Thanks for looking in - take care and stay warm all.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by Rich W on 23 Jan 2023, 00:15

Well I can safely say that your planning on these pieces is much more thorough and thought out then anything I ever do...
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Posted by steve_pickstock on 24 Jan 2023, 15:08

Rich W wrote:Well I can safely say that your planning on these pieces is much more thorough and thought out then anything I ever do...

I'm basically trying to emulate what someone has designed on a computer and executed on a laser cutter. That does things I can't do - little square holes and a preciseness of dimensions - it needs a lot of thought and planning.

I really have no idea idea why I do these things to myself.

So, on with today's images.

The outside of the barbican wall, with the door detailed and glued in place. It ended up tilting backwards slightly, but it's nothing that can't be dealt with.
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The inside where the murder hole will be, the wall has had the detail scribed on, but I haven't detailed the inside of the door - you will not be able to see it.
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The connector section glued in place. (Slightly blurry - sorry)
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The barbican section placed next to the bastion section - at least the two sections connect as they should do, quite happy about that.
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The sallyport/barbican gateway is almost hidden by the barbican, you might miss it or at least, that what the defenders hope the attackers will do.
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steve_pickstock  England
 
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Posted by Peter on 24 Jan 2023, 15:11

steve_pickstock wrote:I really have no idea idea why I do these things to myself.

For the satisfaction that you will feel when this project is finished. That's why you do this! Go on Steve! ;-) :thumbup:
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