Monday, April 26, 2010

The Merchant's House

In this post I present the first of my recently acquired buildings from Tabletop World: the Merchant's House. This will be the usual review + painting guide combination article, so if you are only here for the pretty pictures you'll have to skip the next part. :)
I chose to start with the small house and work my way via the Medieval Inn and the Forge to the Ruined Coaching Inn. This way the building structures get more complex and interested and so does the painting. So here is the smallest, least conspicuous of the buildings, the Merchant's House.

The Kit
The kit comes with very few pieces, i.e. the various floors are solid single pieces - no glueing required. Additional bits include two lanterns and a barrel. One of the supports broke off (see photo, directly below the roof), but could be glued back to the model easily.

The ground floor had a few thin spots and holes, which I had to fill with putty. It wasn't much effort and no big deal.

I really like the design of the house. It is not your standard timber-frame house but neither is it the over the top crap GW has been producing lately. Although this is Tabletop World's smallest building it has a good height (making it hard to photograph in all its glory, see below) and enough different structures to be a good looking house on its own. The spikes on the roof make the house suitable for Warhammer players as it would blend with GW's Empire houses. At the same time you could just remove them to achieve a more historical look. I chose to leave them as they are for now.

There are two flaws in the design of the roof, though. Firstly, the position of the chimney doesn't make too much sense as it would have to go directly behind the window. Secondly, it would be nice if the bottom side of the roof was modelled instead of flat. This doesn't stand out much on the finished model but it would be look better nonetheless.

While I usually paint my buildings in a similar way to my Blue Wolf Inn I had to paint the walls differently this time. Firstly, the surface is different (sanded instead of flat) so I had to change my technique. Secondly, for some time now I have been wanting to use a warmer tone than the cold grey/white. I really like Tabletop World's studio paint jobs and I was very impressed by Jorisch's recently posted Watch Tower. Looking through my available paint pots I found GW's Vomit Brown to be probably the best base colour. And the thought of painting the walls with vomit made me chuckle. Yeah, I am like that... :)

So here's how I painted the walls' plaster:
  • Watered down Vomit Brown (GW)
  • 50/50 Wash of Vomit Brown + Codex Grey (GW)
  • Wash of Fortress Grey (GW)
  • Wash of White
  • Drybrush with White

The inside was painted with Vomit Brown and Bleached Bone (GW) and a few additional stains of Bestial Brown (GW) and White. Vomit Brown was extremely useful as I didn't only use it for the walls but also for the stones: A mix of Black, Codex Grey (GW) and Vomit Brown creates a very natural looking stone tone. I still don't feel like I really know what I'm doing when painting stones as it is a uncontrolled chaos of drybrushing greys and applying mixes of greys and browns. The Vomit mix was the best to come out of this and I hope that by the time I finish the last of the Tabletop World buildings I will finally have my technique down.

Although the inside isn't modelled it looks pretty okay when painted. You won't see the inside much during game play anyways. Still, removable roofs are always a winner.

My second MVP (most valuable paint ;) was Catachan Green. I used it for the roof, on the walls and the stonework and wherever you apply this colour it creates a great weathering effect.

Lastly I added a few Gierburg posters to the walls. This side looks like it was made specifically to provide space for them. More photos:

One of the stand-out features of Tabletop World's scenery is that they build their master models with actual stones, piece by piece. They also use actual wood for the woodwork and it really shows. The detail and structure of this building(and their others) could not be achieved by using modelling putty. This makes painting much easier as you can quickly achieve great effects by simple drybrushing but it also increases the overall painting potential. Funnily, what started as the least impressive building when it was standing there in its resin yellow glory has turned out to be the best building I have painted to date. If the next three houses turn out equally good, then I will be more than happy. And so I am closing this review with: Thank you, Tabletop World, for creating these buildings.

Up next: the Medieval Inn.


  1. First of all, thank you on this great review! It means a lot to us. :)

    The house turned out great! The colors are very naturalistic and harmonious. I especially like the way you've painted the large window and the gargoyle reliefs on the front and back facade. What kind of blue did you use for the large window? I would like to try it.
    Added details are perfect. I love the posters you make and want to do something similar in the future for our buildings (maybe even supply them as a part of the kit). Both the posters, and the dry leafs add to the character of the piece.
    I think this is the best stonework you did so far. Really subtle, naturalistic tones.
    All in all, great job on the building, very realistic and full of character.
    I can't wait to see other buildings painted in Gierburg-style. ;)

    Tabletop World

  2. Thank you, Ivan!

    I am almost happy with the stones. They sure look better than my previous ones - the Vomit Brown is great. I still need to practice a lot before reaching your level, though. Your stones are just perfect.

    I basically used the same technique for the window as with the Blue Wolf Inn (all GW colours but works easily with others, of course):

    1. Painting them entirely with Regal Blue
    2. Adding a little Shadow Grey (a light greyish blue) to the Regal Blue and applying it as a wash
    3. Increasing the grey component of the mix until it is bright enough.

    Always apply the new layers in a highly watered down mix so that it blends well with the previous layer and also don't cover the entire area with the new layer but only a slightly smaller part in the center. This way you have a smooth transition from the borders to the centers.

  3. great work, cianty! ill have to goet one of these to try them out too!
    i tried your painting techniques recently and really like your way of painting shingles and bricks and will use them from now on. pictures will shortly turn up on

    keep it up!

  4. Thanks, widgren! Glad you like it and the tuts are useful. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

  5. I've done it the other way around (the "oh that looks so cool I must buy it even if it might be stupid"-way) – I got my Ruined Coaching Inn yesterday and it's a fantastic model but it will probably take forever to finish. Plenty of details to paint :)

    Anyway, your Merchant's House looks great and I think I will need to buy a bottle of Catachan Green and try it for that weathering effect you're talking about.

  6. The green wash adds a lot to the model. I really recommend experimenting with it.

    Judging from your current buildings I am sure your Inn will look awesome. But I don't see me finishing mine too soon either - of course, also because there are two other buildings coming first. :)

  7. Thanks Chris!
    I will give it a try on our next building.


  8. Thank you for this perfect review! Your painting job and TableTop disign are great!

  9. @Ivan: I very much look forward to your next design!

    @Arny: Thanks! I can definately recommend these buildings to all medieval/fantasy skirmish gamers. The design is great and the prices are reasonable. There really is no better resin terrain available (at least none that I know of).

  10. I know many talented miniature painters, but you are the one who paints the buildings as carefully as the others paint minis. That is great. For us in Poland, the buildings form Tabletop World are beautiful, but too expensive. But we at least can admire these works painted on your blog and it's great to see how much you've done to make your Gierburg's scenery as nice as possible.

  11. Absolutely amazing work on that building Cianty!
    Choice of colours as well as weathering is top notch.


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