Tag Archives: Scenery

Constructing a Caravanserai

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Constructing a Caravanserai or ‘Serai’

Caravanserais were a common feature of the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asian landscape from Medieval through to near modern times. They were more often than not quite simple affairs designed to provide security and refreshment along the many trade routes. They were usually spaced a days travel apart or at major crossroads. If the region was disputed these compounds could take on a more martial role with stronger and higher walls as well as fortified towers and parapets.


This design is for one of the more common examples. This one has been constructed for North West India but with some simple adjustments, mainly to the gateway it could easily be made to represent one of the multitude of other caravanserais in other areas. This basic structure has a basic hollow box square compound with four walls surrounding a courtyard containing the well.


The dimensions have been specified to enable decent space for figures to be placed without significant danger of them falling from the walls.


  • Cutting board or surface
  • Metal straight edge ruler with handle
  • Sharp knife/scalpel (preferably with new blade)
  • Ruler + pencil
  • Set- square
  • PVA wood glue
  • Masking tape
  • Plaster/filler with the means of applying it such as a spatula, paint knife or large brish
  • Sand to mix into plaster
  • 30mm circular tube or compass (or similar) to describe the arches
  • Sewing pins (small heads)


5mm Foam-board

Exterior Walls

  • 2 x 300mm x 100mm
  • 2 x 290mm x 100mm

Interior Walls

  • 2 x 290mm x 70mm
  • 2 x 190mm x 70mm

4 archways should be cut into each of the interior walls where they face into the inner courtyard – except for the wall containing the main gate. These archways will need to be 50mm at their highest and 25mm wide.


  • 2 x 290mm x 50mm
  • 2 x 190mm x 50mm

Courtyard Well

  • 4 x 60mm x 10mm

Baseboard – thin ply

  • 320mm x 320mm

Coloured felt or fine striped material for interior curtains

Mount-board card for constructing main gates 2 x 90mm x 70mm as well as interior doors (2 x 40mm x 25mm) – refer to the sample templates. Alternatively 4Ground do a very useful set of 12 doors.

Mount board or thin balsa for the tiling around the top of the courtyard well (4 * 6mm x 60mm). Lightly score tile impressions into the card using a ball-point pen and ruler.


  1. Glue exterior walls using the set-square to ensure edges are at 90 degrees to each other.
  2. Tip – use masking tape to secure the joins whilst the glue is drying. Joins can be reinforced by bracing them with the small-headed sewing pins through the two pieces of foam board.
  3. Glue in long interior walls and roofs.
  4. Glue short interior walls and roofs.
  5. Attach gateways and interior doorways.
  6. Dress walls with plaster/sand mix.       Apply with reasonable coverage using a spatula or paint knife. Don’t be afraid to create texture by dragging the knife or stippling with a thick brush.
  7. Tip – to achieve a more ‘organic’ and slightly worn appearance use your knife to remove the straight corners and apply slight divots into the corners prior to applying any of the plaster. This removes the rather engineered sharp corners and suggests a more mud/adobe feel once the plaster has been applied.
  8. Gently sand down the walls to remove any excess flaky plaster
  9. Tip – once sanded down apply a watered down PVA covering to the entire model to secure the plaster before any paint is applied. This should protect the model from any rough handling and stop the plaster falling off.
  10. Assemble courtyard well and attach top tiles.
  11. Paint. If PVA has been applied to the entire model earlier then spray paints can be used without damage to the foam core, otherwise apply a simple undercoat. Use of progressive lighter shades either by angled sprays, or dry-brush will finish the main painting required for the walls and walkways. Paint the gateways and doors a dark brown weathered wood effect.
  12. The baseboard should be dressed and painted as appropriate to the region which it is intended for.
  13. Cut and attach the coloured felt to the interior faces of the arches surrounding the inner courtyard.


Use of this model in Wargames

This model was originally constructed to support my interest in the Indian Mutiny (1857-1858). Two of the earlier battles involved serais, the Battle of Budli-ke-Serai on 8th June 1857 (the give away is in the name), and the Battle of Najafgarh on 25th August 1857. In both incidents the serais were central to the Mutineers battle plans representing the focus for their defences.


Attachments to come include;

  • Templates for walls, roofs, and well
  • Templates for gates and doors

Photos of finished model

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The Siege of Barwarie – Water Tower

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The Siege of Barwarie had a few significant features which ought to be incorporated within any game, including the various bungalows, but the most significant item which cannot be missed is the actual water tower where the Brits ended up defending.

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I have attached a powerpoint slide which can be printed off in A4 (unsure of appropriate scaling for US).  It is composed of three elements, the main central building and two side rooms.  This model was derived directly from the newspaper article of the day which was meant to reflect the notes and drawings of Mr Ryves who survived the event.

Barwarie Station Template – stripped

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15mm/18mm Nissen Huts

I’ve just seen some fantastic nissen huts from the capable hands of Andy Cummings suitable for most things from FOW 15mm WW2 back to All Quiet on the Martian Front up to more recent conflicts.

The models are made of resin and are gorgeous.  I’m unsure of the measurements but from my poor memory would say around 6 inches long and 3 inches wide (happy to be corrected).  They come in various formats with door and window combinations.

They will be available for sale through Mike at The Scene.  I think that they will get their first showing at Penarth tomorrow (31st January).  I would imagine that these will go fast because they are such a versatile model.  For an early view check out the background scenery on this post for the All Quiet on the Martian Front game…


Hopefully I’ll be able to pick some up for myself.

Home-made Stone Walls (28mm)

I had a go at making a stone wall on one of my 6 inch hedge bases.  I followed an idea on YouTube which may not have been the best idea.  I built three layers of lego up with one ‘bump’ depth and 6 inches long.

I then mixed up some PVA with some fine grain gravel (approx 3mm to 5mm grains) sufficient to fill the cavity and then spooned the mixture into the Lego form on the base and left the lot to dry.

Next day I started to dismantle the lego shell but found that the PCA hadn’t set so kept having to leave the most recent element exposed to dry as I went along.  This took a fair few hours or mainly waiting around.

Eventually I managed to remove all of the Lego and left the wall to dry.

OK so the wall looks roughly OK, but given the amount of time wasted doing it hopefully I’ll come up with a more elegant solution for my next batch.

Home Made Hedges with gates

It’s only when I got my first batch of hedges on the table that I appreciated that I’d neglected to allow for any entrances between my fields (bar leaving a gap between the hedge bases that is.)

So my next project was to construct 2 gateways for each 1 foot square worth of hedges so that there could always be an entrance and a option for a separate exit to a field.

The gates were constructed fairly crudely from matches.  I glued 4 horizontal matches to two verticals with light touches of PVA where they touched.  I then subsequently glued a cross bar across the 4 horizontals.  When the gate was dry I clipped the two verticals until they looked the right height for the gate.

I then cut and trimmed sufficient rubberised horse hair for the hedge ends (approximately 2 inch lengths).

the gates and hedge ends were then glued to my 6 inch hedge bases (from Blotz) with the gate in the centre of the base.  I used a glue gun as this gave a very resilient bond as well as set fairly quickly.  You only have to avoid bringing your fingers (you don’t do that often I can tell you).

Gated Hedges in use in Chain of Action game before being finished off


Once set I added some ground cover around the gate and hedges in the form of putty and loose grit.  Once this was dry I gave the whole lot a spray with brown acrylic paint.

Once dry I dry brushed PVA onto the hedges and applied the flock scatter.  I use a fairly light grain Blended Turf (Earth Blend) from Woodlands Scenics.  This has a slight rubbery texture and glues very well.  It’s also got the added advantage of coming in almost a litre bottle for £9 which was considerably cheaper than the alternatives.

I then lightly dry brushed the gate as well as the ground around the hedges before adding some static flock to the base.  You could also put this around the gate if desired.  I then added some additional details in the form of flock ‘clumps’ which I get from eBay.