Pictured above is my latest experiment with a technique to make brick in 1/35 scale. Where in my previous sample, I chose to emboss the mortar lines into a sheet of cardstock to mark the location of bricks, these are individually cut and laid. I’m very happy with how well it all came together and think that this is pretty close to how I’d like to proceed.
The first step in the process was to actually make the bricks. I see a number of modellers, in online forums, using rubber moulds to cast plaster bricks that they simply lay up, in miniature, as you would in real life. I’d like to try the plaster moulds someday but didn’t here. Instead, I’m working in cardstock and my approach uses a thinner brick to represent the face and not the whole brick. I’m okay with this and enjoy working in cardstock so this felt “right” to me. Both methods offer something that embossing doesn’t and I felt it easy to see the attraction:
- When you emboss bricks you’re doing so one in one hard and straight line, one entire course at a time. If the building your making a model of has settled chances are those bricks aren’t in that same straight line in real life if they ever were.
- I found that when I embossed the vertical mortar courses I tended to create a short pull in the face of the cardboard that just looked like what it was and nothing like the real thing this is just me I know others have found ways around this problem and I probably could too, eventually.
- By working one brick at a time I could easily replicate any bond pattern as doing so really doesn’t take any more work than not.
- In a scale this large, it just felt neat to do and it really was fun.
I used cheap cardstock recycled from the back of a used notepad. As much as I’m excited about the ability to apply this technique to model distinct brick patterns there is still a call for uniformity and if I can’t make a lot of reasonably uniform bricks I probably can’t make a uniform wall of them.
“….but how?” I wondered.
Then I had what felt like a pretty powerful “Eureka!” moment: Using a knife and straight-edge scribe vertical lines 7mm apart. Don’t cut completely through the material but get pretty close to doing so. When the sheet has been divided vertically, turn it and then cut into strips 2mm wide. Once all the strips are cut, simply go back and finish those vertical cuts. I tried this out for my sample and it worked very well. Lots of very uniform brick and very easy to do. I was really impressed with just how easy it was to make myself quite a neat little pile of bricks this way. (With a face of 2mm x 7mm my bricks are just a bit of the wrong size in 1/35 but close enough here works for me since I’m testing the process more than the scale).
When I first started glueing them in place, I spread a thin layer of glue the full length of a couple of courses of brick. I found as I pressed bricks into the glue that the glue had a tendancy to squelch up between the bricks and make a very tiny yet still full-size, in terms of irritating, mess. To avoid continuing this madness, I found it easier to just use the tip of my knife to pick up a drop of glue and glue the bricks in one at a time. While not something that occurred to me when I adopted the latter approach to glueing bricks in place, this method uses less glue and exposes the cardstock to less moisture and should be useful in mitigating warping. Again, as I type this, glueing bricks in one-at-a-time sounds tedious but it really wasn’t.
It didn’t take long to lay up this short section of wall. I didn’t bother to make up some half bricks to represent a course of stretchers and regret not doing so. In this sample, I only marked one datum line to guide the brick courses. It might be useful to mark some additional ones to help manage the shape of the brick courses. If I were replicating a complex pattern I’d be really tempted to draw the pattern first and glue that to the wall, then lay the bricks overtop to ensure that I didn’t stray from the effect I was modelling.
The time to do something in the hobby shouldn’t matter but this little sample took just about an hour from start to finish, including clean-up. It was fun and from a very early period it was easy to appreciate the effectiveness of the approach. It’s certainly another strong vote to working in a larger scale and I feel like I’m starting to find something here I like.
In terms of “next time” I’ve a few things to try:
- Make up some shorter bricks to represent stretchers
- Try using a layer of cardstock underneath to represent a brick course raised from the face of the wall, such as a parapet
- Try working into an inner and outer corner
- My bricks are just under 0.5mm thick. They’re thick enough to accomodate actual mortar but I didn’t do this. I laid them pretty tight together and relied on the paint I was using as a base colour to fill these gaps and represent this effect. I think I’m okay with this.
That was fun!