Let's Build a Mosque!

The finished mosque
This is my first attempt at a terrain project, well, ever.  Me and Headologist are scurrying around trying to build up armies and play new games (as well as feeding our 40K frenzy), but we don't have a lot of terrain.  As you know, I'm working on some UK and Taliban for Force on Force, so I thought I'd throw together some Afghan buildings for use in our games.

I'm going to start with a mosque.  Why?
  • Almost without exception, every village in rural Helmand province has a mosque (usually three or four)
  • They are simple, rectangular standalone structures which look almost identical to one another.
  • Compared to houses, they are very easy to make as there are no walls or add-on annexes to worry about.
So, I started hunting for reference photos - which don't exist.  Afghanistan is one of the oldest urban civilisations in the world and it has some really breathtaking architecture (no exaggeration), especially in the north, and mosques tend to have the most attention paid to them with fancy blue painted walls, gold domes and pillars, etc.  But I wanted to replicate one of the thousands of tiny, one-room mud-walled affairs that populate Helmand province, and they are so unassuming that there are no photos out there.  

They simply consist of one room, maybe 3 meters wide by 10 long, one door in the short end, and a semicircular enclave protruding from the western side (all mosques face north, so when the mullah stands in this bit, everyone prays facing westwards - towards Mecca). Although I do consider wargames to be gloriously uncontroversial and politically/religiously neutral, with such an important religious building as a mosque I think it pays to do the research.

Anyway, RE lesson over - onto the building!  The tools and process for this build are really easy.  Cardboard (I'm using shoebox card as it's quite thin, but still corrugated which helps with bending and shaping), craft knife, pen and steel rule, as well as ready mixed filler for texturing.

1.  Draw the net of the building.  It's best to do all six sides (i.e. with a floor) as this will give it more stability.  For 28mm, I'm using 2" wide and high, and 4" long.  Remember the flaps, which will help with the gluing.  I found these a bit too small, so next time I'll be making them a bit bigger.
2.  Cut out.  Nice and straightforward.  It goes without saying that those who, like me, have to use the dining table for modelling, a chopping board is vital here.  You can see I've added a door on one end, and two windows in one side of it.  Leave the other side blank as the side that faces west has no windows in it.
3.  Cut a small, rectangular section as shown, about two-thirds the height of the walls.  This will form the mullah's enclave.  Bend it into a semi-circular shape and using PVA glue, give it a roof (as shown).  This can be very fiddly - patience required!  A blob of blu-tak on the inside may be necessary to hold it in place while the glue takes.  This can take the better part of an hour to set fully, so holding it like this was not an option!
4.  Further to the above, gluing the thing together can take a while and it's alarmingly prone to pulling itself apart before the glue sets.  You can see here elastic bands work well, but sellotape would also do. If you can leave it in place, it gives it extra strength while it drys.
5.  After a suitable period of drying (better safe than sorry here - I left it for an hour), glue on the enclave on the blank side as in the picture.  Again leave it to dry for a short while, then add the filler for texture. A butter knife will work here, but mine came with a handy little applicator. This stuff really is the best option, it's instant, effortless, and cheap (the tub you can see here cost £2 and has lasted six months so far).

And that's it! Again leave it to dry fully before moving on to painting. Lessons learned include:
  • Bigger tabs on the original plan will make the final model stronger, and also reduce the amount of time it needs to dry.
  • My filler dried out - you can easily resuscitate it by adding about two egg cups full of boiling water, then poking with a knife and working the water in. After about five minutes of stabbing/stirring, it's good as new.
First building built! 

As for painting, these things are literally built out of dried mud mixed with straw (which becomes incredibly strong once dry), so I used the same Desert Yellow/Bleached Bone method as on my bases.  I also gave the building a vigorous brush-down once dry; this got rid of any lumpy bits of filler left sticking out.

Also, check out my last post, which now has new and improved photos! Thanks for stopping by as ever.


  1. Awesome. I look forward to seeing the final result. I need to buy some filler. I haven't tried it before, but it seems to be a wonder tool for terrain making.

    1. Thanks Boxer. As you can see, I've updated it with the finished product! Filler is a real winner - I also use it for basing as it's great for 'bulking out' bases cheaply, to make them look as if they're trudging through 3D mud and sand, rather than flat, 2D static grass. It can be painted to be just about anything - although sand and dry mud looks best. And it's mind-bogglingly cheap!

  2. That's quite nice, just needs a little sign out front that reads "Mullah Abdullah's RPG Emporium", "Our prices will blow your mind!". Lol.

    1. Aha, great idea! Do you think it will arouse suspicion amongst the dear boys in blue if I start typing that into an online translator?

    2. I just assume that the NSA tracks all my Google searches. I've looked up too many weapon systems and maps of conflict zones not to get flagged. Lol.


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