Scratch Built 28mm Church.

A few months ago I started a new terrain project, to build a multifunctional gaming table that would look good for both 28mm and 15mm ww2 gaming. I wrote about the planning stage on my blog here: Making a gaming table part 1 , unfortunately since then I haven’t really had the time to update my blog on its progress! I can gladly say that the 28mm table parts are finished. The main one is a church.

The first thing was to decide what my church would look like. Just down the road from me is a beautiful little church called St. Bridgets Church, as it happens, I’m getting married there next year! It’s of simple, but typical design, and I love the building, so I thought why not loosely base my build around that one? It’s close enough by that I can go look at it for reference, and easily enough replicated in miniature as it’s nice and simple. You know, finding a church nearby, whether you just want to get inspired (like me) or want to be there to make firm your religious beliefs, tends to be quite easy these days, thanks to digitalization. For me though, I had a church nearby, for those who are new to a place, can with a few web searches find a church near them. All they might have to do is make a web search with keywords similar to “church in Elk Grove CA“, for example, depending on where they live.

Coming back to my model, I said loosely based because this isn’t a “scale model”, this is wargames terrain. I’m not saying I’m doing a half-cocked job, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. At the end of the day as long as it looks good for my paras to fight over then I’m more than happy!

The other reason why I say loosely is scale. At 28mm, a true scaled one would be huge. The fact is, churches are generally pretty big buildings. Usually the largest in their surrounding areas (unless you live in a modern urbanized area like london or new york etc). A good, loose rule of thumb is that 28mm is the height of the mini from “eye to foot”, and with most human sized models considered to be an average of 6′ tall, this makes 28mm roughly 5′ 9″ (but for ease, lets say 6′ again). a quick look at google maps gives me a rough estimate that St. Bridgets is about 25m long. That’s about 82 feet. So, 82′ divided by 6′ will give us how many 28mm lengths this would be if in scale, and that’s 13.6. 13.6×28 = 380.8mm(15″) long is how big it would have to be if in “true” scale. Considering my table is only 6′ long, having a 15″ long building on it would take up a lot of room! so I decided to downsize it a bit. The whole model is about 10″ long, so about 2/3 the size it “should” be. Still large enough to be very imposing on the tabletop, but small enough that it can neatly sit on the gaming table and not get in the way.

To build the model I used:

  • 5mm thich foam,
  • 1mm thick plasticard
  • various “wills kits” for the walls, roof & pavement
  • warbases small windows
  • a 12″ x 12″ 6mm thick MDF square
  • some wooden lolly sticks (the door)
  • woodland scenics clump foliage for the hedges
  • metal mesh for the hedges from a bird feeder from wilkinsons
Scratch Built 28mm Church - planning

Scratch Built 28mm Church – planning

Planning was easy, with a photo reference and having found a cardboard box of roughly the right size I dry assembled the walls onto base. I’m using a 12″ squard base as my board has pre marked sections where a 12″ base can sit in it. Meaning I can swap out the features of the board and keep it fresh without having to make a whole new board.

Scratch Built 28mm Church - planning

Scratch Built 28mm Church – planning

With the dry assembly looking good I marked out layout with a pencil on the base.

Scratch Built 28mm church - pavement

Scratch Built 28mm church – pavement

I cut some of the wills kits “crazy paving” for the path leading to the church, this was stuck down with hot glue. The join isn’t as obvious when its all painted up.

Scratch Built 28mm church - the base

Scratch Built 28mm church – the base

I raised up the base with some blue foam, this also makes the path sink into the base. The church itself is raised even higher with another piece of foam.

Scratch Built 28mm church - starting the walls

Scratch Built 28mm church – starting the walls

I used this box as the base for the church, then stuck blue foam to the outside of it with hot glue for the basic shape.

Scratch Built 28mm church - roof

Scratch Built 28mm church – roof

Same principle for the roof. As this needs to be at an angle, I beveled the edges of the foam with a craft knife so it sits better.

Scratch Built 28mm church - roof

Scratch Built 28mm church – roof

Here’s the two halves of the roof before they get stuck on.

Scratch Built 28mm church - basic shape complete

basic shape complete

The basic shape of the church is now complete. Like I said, it’s a pretty standard church, nothing too fancy here. The blue foam is nice and light so the model doesn’t weigh a lot at this point. The foam is still pretty rigid though, so it holds it’s shape nicely.

Scratch Built 28mm church - starting to look like a church!

starting to look like a church!

This was the hardest, but ultimately most rewarding stage. As you can see the “wills kits” easily make believable walls very easy to create. The hardest bit is cutting the pieces so they fit together. The plastic is hard and it’s easy to destroy the detail if you are rough with it. it’s handy if you can get pieces where the edges will be hidden!!

Scratch Built 28mm church - front door

front door

The door was made by cutting a door shape from plasticard, then overlaying that over the top of some lolly sticks which had been stuck directly to the foam. Giving the impression of a heavy wooden door.

Scratch Built 28mm church - windows


The windows come from the Scottish firm “warbases” and were very reasonably priced. The plastic was a bitch to cut to get them to fit, but they look good once they were in!! I’ve stuck some plasticard behind them otherwise the foam might stickthrough and it doesn’t take paint very well in most cases.

Scratch Built 28mm church - large windows

Scratch Built 28mm church – large windows

The large window was cutout from two layers of plasticard after drawing the shape on in pencil, then scoring into it a few times with a sharp scalpel blade, then carefully bending it so it snapped where it was scored. I would have liked to have done something fancy with this, but ran out of time before I had to use it the first time. After that I just didn’t go back to it!

DSC_0910Scratch Built 28mm church - large windows

large windows

The edges where they were rough were filled in with the wonderful pollyfiller. I love filler!

Scratch Built 28mm church - fillered

what? you thought I’d get through a build without using filler?? ppfftt

The base was then covered in filler, sealing all the edges and smoothing them off ready for the layer of gravel for more texture.

Scratch Built 28mm church - base textured

base textured

I cut up the bird feeders (the wire has a smaller gauge than regular chicken wire, of about 5mm, which is perfect for bocage type hedges. This wire was then bent into shape and pushed into the base. The foam really helped here. I then added some hot glue to keep it all in place.

Scratch Built 28mm church - base textured

Scratch Built 28mm church – base textured

Small patches of small stones were glued down with PVA glue, these add a little bit more texture. This is pretty much the model finished being assembled.

Scratch Built 28mm church - undercoated

church undercoated

I undercoated the whole model black with my airbrush and black vallejo primer. By this point It was the night before I was supposed to be using the model on a gaming table at a big convention in Carlisle, So I had to rush the paint job. but I was still pretty happy with it.

I painted the whole model grey (again vallejo, again airbrushed), then I covered it in vallejo black wash to get into the recesses, then drybrushed the whole thing with a slightly lighter shade of grey. The door was painted brown and the large window blue. It’s not clear from the pictures but I actually painted the roof a slightly different colour to the walls too to make it a little different. It’s quite subtle though so the camera doesn’t pick it up too well.

Scratch Built 28mm church - finished


The base was then flocked, with PVA glue and some fine shrub blend (javis), and then the woodland scenics clump foliage applied to the wireframe hedges in a tri-colour blend. This was done with hot glue.


Scratch Built 28mm church - finished


To finish off I added some scenic flowers along the edge of the path.

Scratch Built 28mm church - finished


The finished piece.

Scratch Built 28mm church - On the board

On the board

Here’s the model on my finished board, only a few hours after I finished painting it! The board was on show at Megacon In carlisle where I ran a few Bolt action intro games with my British Paras and German forces.


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Thank you for reading.

About The Author

Chris has been a Wargamer since he was 12 years old, progressing through 40k, WFB now playing a diverse range of games from 15mm WW2, to space combat games, and even the odd game of judge dredd.

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