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Scenery for Samurai

It’s funny how once you get into a groove, it’s difficult to get out of it, particularly if you are having fun! I had finished all of the original Test of Honour figures as detailed in last weeks blog and my intention was to go back to painting my beloved Napoleonics. I did mention that I fancied painting some buildings but they were going to have to wait. However, having had a couple of really fun games of TOH at the club, I decided to get on with making some scenery.

I had some plastic aquarium plants that my brother had sent me, kicking around the back of my work bench and I had long admired the Sarissa Temple Shrine so I thought that I would make both bits of scenery. It may seem like a strange combination but sometimes two slightly different projects are as fast to do as one. Whilst one piece is drying or setting, you can get on with the other. Having just two projects is about right for me as I don’t loose my concentration!

'Bamboo grove' assembled.

‘Bamboo grove’ assembled.

The ‘bamboo patch’ was the first on the work bench. I already had an idea how I would make it and stole an idea from John Grant at the club, who uses old DVD or CD’s as his bases for scatter scenery. I’ve got plenty of these kicking around as they were giving out DVD’s with some newspapers in the past. Quite why I thought I would need a documentary on Pilates escapes me now but at last it was going to be used for something useful. So using the label side as the base I partially covered it with milliput, pressed three pebbles that I had grabbed from the garden (I didn’t even bother to wash them!) and just stuck the tall aquarium plants straight into the milliput as shown above. I used some cut down pieces at the edges to taper the height but otherwise, assembly was as straight forward as it looks.

Building the Sarissa Precision Japanese Temple.

Building the Sarissa Precision Japanese Temple.

Whilst the milliput was setting, I turned my attention to the Sarissa Temple. These laser cut buildings are just superb in my opinion and actually look fantastic whether painted or not. I like to ‘pimp’ them up a bit and in this case I had decided to paint the building and add some tile effect to the roof. Before assembly, I lightly sprayed the back of the interior pieces with black primer. This was just to keep the inside of the building black as I didn’t want the MDF showing through the windows. It’s not a necessary stage but does improve the finished model. If you plan to paint the interior, now would be a good time to do it.

Before I assembled the roof, I used the panels as a cutting guide for the textured plastic sheeting that I was going to use. It is actually ‘O’ Scale or 1/48th scale Spanish Tile textured plastic card from JTT products. It’s thin enough to easily cut with a sharp scalpel and the only thing to bear in mind is to make sure that the tiles are running the right way on the roof, ie. downwards! I then used super glue to attach the sheet to the MDF roof pieces, although a contact adhesive would have been a better option – my tube of Bostick had dried up though, so super glue did the job. I then assembled the roof as per the kit instructions.

Tile sheets glued to the roof.

Tile sheets glued to the roof.

Once the roof was assembled, I used 1/8th evergreen tube pack 224 to fill the corners. The picture above shows my progress, with the tube blu-tacked into place to test fit before gluing to the tile sheet. I then covered the tube with a strip of single tiles cut from the tile sheeting. At this stage, I used standard polystyrene glue as you can see from the picture. I assembled the rest of the building but did not glue the centre to the platform so that it was easier to varnish. I used the red mahaogany woodstain shown in the picture straight from the can and applied it to the MDF without any preparation. It took around four coats to give me the gloss effect that I was looking for.

Applying the varnish

Applying the varnish

In the meantime, I got on with painting the building itself. I used a Vallejo yellow ochre although the last coat was a mix of 50:50 Yellow Ochre 70913 with Beige 70917 to lighten the effect as it looked too yellow to me. I painted the door and window with the woodstain and then the timber with Vallejo Mahogany Brown 70846.

yellow ochre applied

yellow ochre applied

In between coats drying I went back to my Bamboo scenery piece and once the milliput had dried, coated the base with Vallejo dark earth Textured paste. It was easy enough to apply using a small spatula and a brush to get in between the plants. Once this was dry, I painted it Vallejo Chocolate Brown 70872 and I was ready to start dry brushing!

Ready to dry brush!

Ready to dry brush!

I had sprayed the roof tiles black as I wasn’t keen on the terracotta effect. With hindsight a dark grey would have been a better choice. So it was a case of dry brushing the roof with a mixture of greys and the bamboo base with a chocolate Brown/Iraqi Sand mix.

Dry Brushing complete - well not quite - more grey needed!

Dry Brushing complete – well not quite – more grey needed!

The picture above shows the shrine assembled with the posts painted a bright red 70947 to match the Tori Gate that I have previously completed. Once I had taken this photo I decided that I needed to go heavier with the grey as too much black was showing through the roof. I had also painted the base of the house in Chocolate brown ready for some scatter. The bamboo looked OK – some additional grass scatter & texture was needed.

Temple & Bamboo finished

Temple & Bamboo finished

The Picture above shows the two pieces completed. I have added some brown ballast to the temple base and my usual mix of scatter & tufts to the Bamboo scenery. I perhaps will add another highlight to the roof tiles but I think that the lighting in the picture doesn’t show it at it’s best. So, now that these two pieces are complete, I really must get on with my Napoleonic Cavalry brigade. However, the Geisha would look nice as part of the shrine….

I think I have my next TOH project lined up....

I think I have my next TOH project lined up….

The commercial bit.

Most of what I have used is available post free at the time of writing to most worldwide locations from my shop. Some items may go in and out of stock – we only list what we have in stock ready to dispatch- the links take you to the correct sections in my shop but if you are having trouble finding anything ┬ádrop me a message.

For the range of Sarissa Japanese Buildings and other Samurai items, including the Test of Honour sets click here:


For Glues and Adhesives;


For milliput


For Texture Paste


For Vallejo paint


For textured Plasticard


The woodstain came from Boyes hardware shop and the pebbles from my garden! I’m still trying to source bamboo!