A Bridge Too Far?

Sadly, after deciding on the above title, I realised it could be some terrifying in-joke between dentists, but I’ve gone with it anyway!  There is some “bridgey” content, but you’ll have to read other stuff before you get to it!


The beginning of the year saw me getting on with stuff (shown above) and mostly scenery/terrain related bits and pieces to fit in with the January community painting challenge.  At the end of January I posted about all the exciting stuff I’d done (i.e. nowt) along with the wood/trees bases that I’d finished (see here for that, but please contain your excitement).  Anyway, the upshot of all of that was the I still had the two cottages shown in the picture above to finish.

Now February’s challenge is a double one – neglected models and scenery – and that played right into my hands!  The two cottages were bought, stuck together, filled and primed years ago, then left to age nicely in a box somewhere.  A few years ago I painted the third cottage and made a base for it and an accompanying building, to form a small farm I could use for wargames set in France between 1870 and 1945.  I wanted to do something similar for the other two, but until January I’d never got anywhere with them.  So, while I had the trees under way, I made a start with the cottages, but didn’t get them finished until the weekend just gone.


They took longer to do because I wanted to make a base for them (see above).  I finally opted for a shared double yard arrangement with a low wall and two outhouses, one attached to the back of one cottage and the other set against the outlying wall.  The base, walls and outbuildings were made from mounting board and I added a pile of resin logs and a small side gate (made from scored plasticard) to complete the set-up.  Roofs for the outhouses were made from plasticard with a pre-moulded tile pattern, but these didn’t shade or highlight particularly well (see later on).


I added base texture from Vallejo white pumice and then painted up the cottages and base, using white for the rendered walls, mid-grey for roofs and dark earth for the groundwork (shown above).  Working through it bit by bit still took time.  Anyway, next stage was a brown wash, slapped on and then lifted off with wet brush, followed by touching up the ground and drybrushing the whole thing with a sandy highlight.  Last step was adding bushes and grass and then varnishing.


The view above shows the front elevation and the view below is from the back.


Also shown below is the original cottage on the left, modelled as a small farm.


And with some 20mm WW1 French infantry to give some scale (they’re base on UK 1p coins, which are 20mm in diameter).


Given how long it’s taken to get these done, I’m really pleased with the result and well on my way to having a small French village to fight over!

OK, so now onto the bridge stuff.  This really is a neglected model!  Years ago, before I even bought the cottages above, I built a large-ish generic bridge to cross my simple scratchbuilt river pieces.  Having done that, I thought I’d quite like a Chinese bridge to go with my 20mm Boxer Rebellion figures and scenery, so I found a picture on-line and thought I’d have a go!


The bridge was primed black and sprayed brown years ago and even had its own space allocated in a storage box, but then it just got abandoned.  So I thought this month’s challenge provided the opportunity to get it finished.  It actually took very little time to finish!


The basic shell was made from mounting board and I stuck on long matchsticks for the supports and panel edges.  The central pier is built up from layers of match sticks, but the two end ramps are those from the earlier bridge I made from mounting board (the centre pier is not as deep as the outer ramps so that it sits flush over the card river pieces).


The roof is removable, both to let me put figures on the bridge deck and to make it easier to store.  The underlying roof and watchtower structures were made from mounting board covered in corrugated card.  I remember needing to use a very sharp knife to cut the corrugated card at an angle so that it fitted correctly at the roof apex and against the tower walls – that was actually the hardest part of the whole thing!  Finishing it off was straightforward and just meant painting the tiles grey, putting on a wash and drybrushing a highlight.  I added an extra highlight to the tiles at about half inch spacing to give the impression of layers of tiles.


The bridge is a decent size (figures above are on UK 1p coins again) and just fits into an A4 printing paper box lengthwise.  I’m glad I’ve got it done now and am keen to use it as an objective in a game at some point.  Now all I need is for someone to suggest I could do with some junks to float on that river next to it!  Maybe a “paint a boat” monthly community challenge is in the offing, although I think I’m quite capable of turning out junk anytime!



    • Thanks IRO! Hate to think I’ve managed cute, but I could make a ruined cottage to swap out with one of the existing ones since they’re removable. Mounting board is good quality card, about 1.5mm thick, comes in different colours and you use it to frame pictures (think cut a square hole in it and place the picture behind it showing through) before you put the whole thing inside a proper frame behind glass. Hope that makes sense!

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  1. Very, very nice John. I love those buildings. You’ve got the layout spot on along with the scale and a great paint job too. The bridge is equally cool and the removable roof is very neat. Either the photos are staged or you have to be the neatest and the tidiest modeller I know!

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    • Thanks Dave, I’m glad you like them! I did hum and hah a lot with the cottage layout but I’m pleased with it. I could kick myself about the bridge ’cause in the end it took almost no effort to finish it. You guessed it, photos are staged, I don’t do neat and tidy!

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  2. Ambitious stuff John, and I like the concept of both as executed. First, love the farm, and that modular concept you used is great. The bridge is very nice, and the second highlight to give the impression of layered tiles is brilliant and a great idea I have filed away for future reference. I also like the way you sized up the central pier to the river. Expertly done John!

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    • Thanks Mark! I use a modular approach mainly to make things easier to store (and it must just be coincidence that the gap between the two cottages is big enough for a Char B or Somua S-35 to lurk in). When I made my first Chinese buildings I made a stencil that let me drybrush just the right distance apart to represent tiles, but the bridge was just too big for that to work. So I just mixed a lighter highlight, dragged it along the tiles in a (near enough) straight line, and then repeated that three or four times, moving half an inch further up the roof each time. I was quite happy with it! And I think it was maybe good luck rather than good management with the bridge pier, but it worked.

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  3. Well mate words escape me ! I won’t say the cottages are cute in fact they are spot on ,if you had more time you could easily nock these beauties out and make a fortune ! ,as for the bridge I had Maeno’s problem and only saw it just now , beautiful job mate so clean and oriental looking ,yeah love to see you have a go at some junks .Question ,what have you made the water out of it looks really good ! .

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you like ’em, Pat! I should maybe have added that the cottages are resin kits and I’ve only added the base, walls and outhouses. I’ll be honest about the water – it’s simply mounting board painted Humbrol gloss brown, nothing more than that! I long ago decided that for streams and small rivers viewed from ground level (i.e. as soldiers would see them) brown was the right colour for me (the smaller stream strip that meets the river is one of the very old Bellona vac-formed streams painted the same way).

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      • Well bugger me mate that is so clever ,Our Lizz should make you some kind of Master Order of Models ,that’s what I really appreciate ,inventiveness ,so simple but so effective so a pat on the back for that one Sir John and I will call Phill and put a word in his ear about the honour bit ,but I’ll just wait a bit until he gets over the little accident thing , it’s a bit of a shit to lose ones licence at such a tender age ,I’m sure it wasn’t his fault .

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        • I’m really a bit of a shy modest wallflower, so I’m both blushing at your comments and having a good chortle at the same time! But since TIM has worked out that I’m 36 on my birthday if you could use your connections with the royal family to get ’em to get an emergency bill through parliament reducing the state pension age to 37 that would be grand!

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Damn, those are really nice (and of course, you’d finished the cottages!) That bridge though – *of course* you bloody made it yourself. I can tell because it looks like one that I’d buy from a shop in kit form or pre-assembled!

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