I’ve been making my crooked houses for a while now, and a bit of encouragement prompted me to try writing up a tutorial for them. I originally got the idea for the houses on the Privateer Press forums, the old ones that have been shut down for a long time now. I don’t remember who made them originally, but his work was really wonderful, and my best efforts so far haven’t topped his. These are intended as terrain pieces for tabletop miniature wargames, although they would also work well in roleplaying games on a battle mat or something. Prepare for a lot of pictures.
You can make the houses out of foamcore, though matte board also works really well. Occasionally it will be on sale at Hobby Lobby for $4 for a huge sheet. Grab one or two. For the glue I use Aleen’s Tacky Glue, which is a white glue similar to Elmer’s, but thicker consistency. Superglue is also helpful for certain steps. I cut my pieces out on one of those green cutting mats. If you have a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby, you can get them pretty cheap. I use x-acto knives to do all my cutting, and you should be prepared to have extra blades on hand because cutting matte board dulls them really quickly. Painter’s tape helps keep pieces together until the glue dries.
I think it’s important to have a template for your pieces, so that you don’t end up wasting material. Take a few minutes with a ruler and some graph paper to plan out a design. Remember that these are in 3 dimensions, so if you have an overhanging second floor, you also need a piece that acts as a floor. I used Bristol paper in this tutorial for my template pieces, as well as for the roof tiles you’ll see later.
I’m making a simpler house in this tutorial than the one pictured above with the grey roof. Basics first, right?
The house is simple, and starts with 4 pieces. Two end pieces with a peak for the roof, and two side walls. The small squares are extra, but can be glued inside the frame at the corners for a bit of extra stability.
Most of the frame glued. I use the blue painter’s tape to hold the pieces together while the glue dries. Note that the side walls are glued just inside the end piece.
This is the frame, glued and ready to add the roof. The Aleen’s Tacky Glue takes some time to dry, so it’s best to go off for a bit to watch a few tv shows or something until the frame is ready to be handled. In the next steps, you’ll see the edging on the frame. I did this with matte board, cut into rectangular strips. Each one is carefully marked, cut, and then glued to the frame. They’ll be painted to look like wood. In this part of the tutorial I’m skipping this step, because it’s more aesthetic than anything else. I will cover that in Part 2 of the tutorial, along with doors and windows.
For the roof I use cereal box card – it’s thin enough to bend and flex easily, and thick enough to provide some structure for the tiles. In this example I’ve used a graham cracker box. Pasta boxes, tissue boxes, macaroni and cheese boxes – all of these would work just as well.
This part of the roof is fitted very precisely onto the frame. Begin by laying out the frame on your card, and marking the roof points as well as the side wall.
You’ll want a rectangle just big enough to fit onto the frame. Fit the roof very carefully onto the frame, and mark the very edges. This will also get cut down, to make the card stock into a very tight-fitting cap on the frame. It will all get covered by tiles for the final house, so it’s important to fit the card as closely to the matte board frame as possible. The next pictures will hopefully show this.
To get the sagging roof right, mark a straight line on your card, and then draw an oval on it. The oval gets cut out, and the edges will get taped together to form the sag in the roof.
The house is starting to look more like a house. Tape helps immensely in this section to keep everything together. Again, the glue needs time to dry.
Next are the tiles. They can be done using the same card as the roof, but here I’ve used Bristol paper again, and I think I prefer that. It’s easy to cut with some scissors. I mark a rectangular strip measuring 1/2″ wide, and cut that into individual tiles using scissors. The tiles should overhang the edge of the roof by just a tiny bit. I glue them down in rows, doing a row on each side before doing the second row atop the first. Start from the bottom and work up, to overlap your tiles.
A word on chimneys: I made mine using a wide straw, cut down and fitted into a piece of Bristol that’s had an oval cut out of it, using the straw mouth as a template. Ideally it will look like a metal pipe when it’s painted and done. You can do other options, but I chose to use this one for the tutorial. The next few images show the chimney and the process of tiling around it. This was glued down with superglue.
For the tiles that cover the roof’s edge, you’ll want to cut slightly bigger rectangles. I glue these down with superglue, because it’s much faster than holding each tile in place while the Aleen’s glue dries. You can bend them in half just a bit to get them fitted onto the roof without leaving sharp creases.
The roof is almost done in the above picture. Laying down the tiles can be done while watching tv, it’s a simple process that just takes time. The tiles on the edges stick over the frame just a bit, about 1/8″ in most cases.
That’s it for part 1 – I’ll try to put up part 2 in the next day or so.