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Gradara castle

Please scroll down for more details of the project

Welcome to the Gradara castle town project page.
This will be the main place for following the progress on the 28mm Gradara castle town model for an event next year at the actual town.
Please see the link below for the actual town website.
Please also scroll down as there are various updates for the project.

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The municipality of Gradara (north east Italy near San Marino) has commissioned me to make a 28mm scale model of their castle town for an event in the castle next year.

The model size is 24oomm x 3600mm and will be split into six sections for ease of transport and storage (there is a chance it might go on tour but that has yet to be confirmed).

The main brief was to have a model of the whole town that was suitable for wargaming but also that had access inside the walls for the period around 1446.

There has been a lot of preparatory working out and drawing work for the scale and suitable size of the model. Some elements have been scaled down a bit to allow them to fit on the separate bases.


The first samples have been completed and you can see these below. It's mainly laser work with a few scratch built elements and this will be the case for the vast majority of the town.

There will also be buildings/houses inside the walls; most of which will have interior access as well.


As mentioned, some of the details of the castle have had to be changed to allow the model to be used for wargaming. One of these was the actual thickness of the walls, which are surprisingly thin. Fortunately, Google Earth Streetview has come to the rescue with being able to see elements close up.
The figures used are going to be on 20mm bases and so the model will have to accommodate this.


Even with Google Streetview, I will be visiting Gradara to take photos of specific areas and also to talk with local historians and archaeologists regarding the actual look of the town and interior buildings for the period it is being built for.

The town is celebrating the siege of 1446 and the model will be built to represent it at that time.

Second update

The main wall sample is now done as well. There need to be a few thing changed to it but that's what samples are for, to iron out the details.

I will be drawing for the next few weeks so there won't be that much to show but in July there will be some good progress including work on the first of the baseboards and groundwork.


There will be some sort of wooden platform/walkway between the wall and tower to allow access between both and this seems to be the case with all the towers.

The unpainted lower section of the wall is where the groundwork will eventually go and there will be some updates regarding that in July.

Third update

Now that the sample details are sorted, it's onto the main build. The baseboards are all going to be made to the same basic specs; 1200mm x 1200mm and 100mm deep. All the groundwork etc will be built on top of these (as shown on the left) with mdf sides following the edge profile which is then filled in with polystyrene. 


The walls are placed on solid supports underneath to get them to the right height, but they are loose for the time being. Once the groundwork has been roughed into shape the walls will be painted and stuck in place and the final groundwork sculpting will begin (more on which later).

That's not solid polystyrene though, there are a series of 'ribs' underneath that finish below the proposed surface and the flat polystyrene is glued onto these. It's a simple method to save material and potential weight.
The polystyrene will be formed with knife work, scrapers and sandpaper. Once it is pretty much sorted then a layer of sculptamould will go over everything.


There will probably be a few gaps to fill in with more polystyrene but they can be done and then the sculptamould can be applied pretty much straight after.
The painted walls will be stuck before the sculptamould goes on so they can be blended in. I will also add a few rock outcrops for some variety but they will be kept to a minimum (apart from round the keep).

Fourth update

The polystyrene has been roughed to shape and the sculptamould has been added following the contours and several relatively flat areas have been added to allow the easy placement of figures. The sculptamould takes a few days to dry but once it has it is very easy to sand and prep for painting.


As mentioned, I've added a few rock 'faces' to various parts of the ground work. This will help to break up the monotony of the greenery when it is applied. The patch to the right is where I ran out of sculptamould but more has arrived now and I can complete the basics on this section.

The walls have had their microstrip elements added (more on which later) and they were also given a quick sponging of textured masonry paint in various areas. Once this had dried, the whole set were given a spray of the base coat and several speckles of suitable colours were applied (as shown in the samples above). The rocks in the area are sandstone and a suitable base colour was chosen for the outcrops.


The walls and towers are now stuck in place and when more bases are made I will be able to add the next stage of colouring in.

The other bases need to be done before more can be done to this one to allow the same colours, tones and greenery to 'cross' from one base to the next.

What's a castle without a giant attacking it :-D

Fifth update

Part of the castle was undermined and Gradara would like this to be represented on the model so I've made two removable sections in the area where the undermining was supposed to have occured.


The removable sections will of course be made 'solid' and there will also be sections of rubble that can be placed in front and behind the wall when the undermining has taken place. These will be fairly flat to allow the placement of figures.

The cut profiles for the ruined sections are the same both front and back to allow for easy placement of them. The walls are quite a bit away from the baseboard edge so easy placement is a necessity for easy gameplay.


I should be receiving information regarding the interior very soon and when I start on that I'll be able to take photos both front and back, although I have started on a couple of generic houses that I will show in due course.

Sixth update

Time for some interior buildings. I've been given a pdf which is full of examples of how the buildings would've looked for the period.

Mostly they were simple, two storied houses but would have several different types of details. Barred lower windows, wooden oriel window and projecting balconies to name but a few.


One proviso is that most of the buildings have access for interior play. Not a problem really although all the buildings will have a slight line in them where the joint is. The interiors will be kept simple with a minimal amount of detail.

The buildings have been made from two layers of 2mm mdf (two layers cuts better and allows for recessed details that will become apparent at a later date). The roofs are from 1.5mm card but have plenty of internal structure so are incredibly robust.

The roof tiles have been drawn in Rhino in 'sheets' and have been printed. I will be casting them to cover all the roofs.

Roof tiles 1.jpg

Once I get a few more buildings done and have got some levels sorted for the interior I'll be able to take some proper interior shots that will help to give a better impression of what inside the walls will look like.

Seventh update

The model is progressing well and it's time to test some colours on the actual walls. It's a slightly different process than on the original samples as it's a larger area and the parts need to be done in conjunction with others.

There still needs to be finishing elements to add to this but it's on it's way there.


The colours are slightly different to the initial samples as they were to settle on actual techniques rather than colours. Also, the lighting for these is rather dark as i decided to rain (welcome to England lol) and I don't have the proper lights set up yet.

The drawbridge works and I'll post a video on that soon. Fortunately, it's on the edge on one of the boards (the split line is on the left of the gatehouse tower) so access will be fairly simple as the boards can be split apart for gaming purposes. In fact, a game could be held on one of the boards on it's own.


The groundwork has been tested as well. It's a mix of sponge foam in various grades and colours. I've also added a few patches of darker flock in various areas to help reduce the sameness of it as it is a large area to the front.

When the time comes for the final details then I'll add a few things like bushes and shrubs to help add an extra level of detail.

Eighth update

'Planting' of the houses has begun. Pretty much all of them will have interior access to allow gaming to happen through most of the town.

All the buildings have been drawn and I'm going through cutting them into the boards and filling in the gaps etc.


There are still some details and roofs to do but as most of these are separate they can be done away from the boards themselves.

There is plenty of room between the buildings to allow for fingers and tape measures :-)

A lot of the building locations are taken from an 1800's map of the town and the consensus is that the locations wouldn't have changed at all really over the years, just certain areas got buildings added or older houses were rebuilt.

There are paintings and such of the town but given that these are mainly medieval some leeway has been applied.


Most of the buildings were rendered in stucco or plaster but there will be a couple of brick buildings in among the rest. There are also some very simple churches that will be present; the current ones being later additions.

Ninth update

Salute 51 is over and I've started to edit the photos from the show.

Some of you will know that the game won 'Best Presented Game' of the show; a pleasing outcome :-)

Gradara 5.JPG
Gradara 3.JPG

The model is on a small tour of some of the gaming shows in Italy with it's next appearance at Play Modena on the 17th of May.

If you're in Italy at that time be sure to pop along as it's a massive show and there will be plenty on offer to the vast majority of gamers.

The eagle eyed amonsgt you will have noticed that the keep is missing, this is simply because it wasn't going to be finished on time and I wasn't going to rush it.

I will be posting a few updates with regard to the keep construction when there is something to show in a week or so; so watch this space.

Gradara 4.JPG
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I will be taking the finished keep to Gradara at the beginning of June and will document the visit and final set up of the model in it's resting place.

I'll also be adding more of the finished and edited photos here and will add a dedicated gallery of all the finished pictures in due course.


Tenth update

As some of you may have seen, the Gradara model had it's inauguration in the city of Grarada this past weekend (8th & 9th June) and I was fortunate to be able to attend.

I took the octagonal tower the is in the north corner and some new towers for the two churches that are inside the walls.

Gradara 13.JPG
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The town of Gradara is a delightful place, full of character and history. The keep is suitably impressive but unfortunately the Italian government had decided to do some restoration work on the interior courtyard and so there was quite a lot of hoarding about.

There is a wall walk around most of the town walls and they have some spectacular vistas.

Because of the work being done on the castle, the model was in the town's exhibition centre but it will be moved into the castle proper hopefully in a few weeks.

It was well received by those that attended the weekend; gamers, the public and local dignitaries and there was plenty of room for the model to split apart as was originally intended.

Gradara 13.JPG

The keep is still being worked on as there are quite a few differences between how it is now and how it might have been during the siege that the model was made for (1446).

I will be visiting the town again in September to take the keep but will update this page when there is something decent to show (everything is pretty much drawn but will need changing a bit).


Gradara 14.JPG

There were two games that were run over the weekend. A small Italian Wars skirmish game in the morning run by Sam of Masterstroke Games called Force of Virtue and Dragon Rampant games in the afternoons run by Gianluca and James from the University of Edinburgh.

Both games were also well received. There were other games and demos as the mayor, Filippo, wants to have a regular gaming weekend during the summer tourist season.


Gradara 14.JPG

I'll finish this particular update with a couple of choice pictures of the castle and town of Gradara.

One final note is to the team at Gradara and to send my heartfelt thanks for being such excellent hosts with a special mention for the mayor of Gradara, Filippo Gasperi, without whom none of this would've been possible. Grazie mille a tutti


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