Sunday, June 7, 2015

Small Tibetan Buddhist Temple in 28mm

It's been a while since I last worked on my village for Tibet/western China, so I thought I'd take a break from painting figures and get another building ready. This is a small Buddhist temple that will be the center piece of my village. Though a grander building would have been more appropriate, I wanted to keep the building's footprint the same as my others to keep the village layout modular (still haven't built the hillside yet).
 The inspiration for the design came from images of two monasteries I found online, which are shown below:
 Litang Lamasary Monastery. Source:
Samye Monastery. Source:
Since I haven't really shown an construction photos with my previous buildings, I though I'd include some here. Work started with an inner card core glued down to a card base.  The base extends out from the core to hold the slanted outer walls in place. As this building will have an open entrance, I had to incorporate the slant into the entryway walls.

This shows how the outer walls get glued into place.  As I never seem to be able to get everything completely square, I always use the core as my guide when cutting the outer walls to shape.

For the windows, I cut holes out in the outer wall, then mount the windows behind on sheets of heavy paper (usually sections of manila folder). This helps give a little extra depth to what could be a very flat looking paper building. Strips of paper rock texture are used on the corners of the building to hide the joints.

For the entrance, I have cut sections of basswood down to appropriate lengths to form columns, then used bits of card covered in Tibetan temple textures to form the walls. This provides extra support for when I glue in the upper balcony level.

This is the front wall for the balcony, with the window section about to be added. Due to the size of the window, I've upgraded the backing to card rather than my usual heavy paper.  The balcony wall will not be slanted, so I've left some paper overhangs to cover any gaps.

The balcony floor was glued down, and the front balcony wall added. Card sections are added to the side for extra durability.

The assembled upper balcony level with a view of the entrance details. The border of the white and burgundy bricks isn't completely even around the building, so the seam will need to be hidden with trim.

The trim, window coverings, curtains, and icons have been glued to the building. For the curtains, the images were glued to manila folder sections for extra strength.

With the building complete, I turned my attention to the roof.  I wanted it to be removable, so I cut the card slightly larger than the building top, then edged the underside with strip styrene to form a lip.  The small, raised wall on top was cut from foam board, then wrapped in black paper.  Liquitex natural sand was used to texture the roof, leaving some of the card uncovered in preparation for the central tower.  Section of decorative toothpicks were used to create the roof's corner pieces.

The central tower has been added, and jeweler wire (painted tan) strung between the posts to support the paper prayer flags. The Tibetan temples often display a dharma wheel and deer on the roof, so I have added those elements as well.  I had hoped to create something a bit more 3D, but didn't have much luck.  As such, I used 2 copies of a photograph glued to either side of some clear plastic (lined up using a bright light), then cut out the shapes.  Though not ideal, it should be fairly sturdy and I hope the prayer flags will help hide its 2D nature.

Here are a few more shots of the final piece, which has been sprayed with matte sealant to protect the paper.  Overall, I am really happy with the final product.

Note: I have now put part of my architectural details collection online.


  1. Absolutely cracking stuff sir! That entryway is a thing of beauty...

  2. Excellent building - very envious ! , Tony

  3. That is excellent! Thanks for the tutorial.

  4. I love this project, the modelling is top draw. Well done.

  5. Simply stunning! This certainly will be a real eye catcher on your table.

  6. Great work. Really like these buildings you are making.

  7. Another brilliant piece from a Master craftsman!
    Hopefully I get to see it in person soon. We need to get together and war game ASAP!

  8. Incredible work! Fantastic looking result.