Association of Model Engineers    

homeaboutactivitiesjoin now!


The Making of Hornburg at Helms Deep

 by Alex Vella

For finished Photos click here...



The model is loosely based on the Lord of the Rings movie rendition of the fortress. The source was mostly the internet which provided many Images as well as descriptions on some scale models of the Hornburg. These however tended to be on the small side with quite a few short cuts as a result. My own version differed from the film version mainly in the side tower shape which in the film is in a six-pointed star configuration. The tower is not very distinctly featured in the movie and so I felt that a more interesting shape was warranted and that is what I set about to do, hopefully with some success.


Tools and Materials


Tools were of a very basic variety. Craft Knives with disposable blades as found in most hardware stores were used. Steel rulers of 60cm and one meter in length were extensively employed for measuring and cutting. The metal edge is especially important for safety when cutting. Any metal flat bars such as aluminum are equally useful for this purpose

 White glue was the type mostly used for bonding the various materials. Some super glue was also employed to a very limited extent.


The Build

 1 Corrugated cardboard, mostly 4 ply, formed the basic structure. Internal reinforcement was also made of this material - often formed into a V cross-section, for added strength, as seen in the picture.




2 Card of the grey type used by builders and obtainable from hardware stores, was pasted over the cardboard. This combination of card over cardboard gives the structure great strength and helps it hold its shape.



3 Thick cartridge paper, such as found in drawing books, was used to form the stonework. In my case I used old BOV calendars which are printed on very good art paper.


Strips equal in width to the blocks to be represented are cutlengthwise and pasted near each other on paper, such as photocopy or computer printer paper. These are then cut horizontally to the height of the blocks. You now have rows which represent “filati”. Paste these onto a new sheet of paper but with the spaces of one row placed above the middle of the blocks of the lower row of blocks and so on. You now end up with a wallpaper type of wall which can  be pasted directly onto the grey card, after cutting it to size and shape. Any window and door cavities are also cut out prior to gluing.


4,5,6 The tower was similarly formed although itwas a more complex structure requiring some fiddly work. This was white glued and held together withmasking tape for greater strength - especially duringthe drying  period. Stonework application here required some careful measuring and application.


7,8  Rounded structures are built around cardboard footprints with internal card supports. Otherwise they are built up exactly like flat surfaces




9,10, 11 Here the central structure  is nearing structural completion with the tower fixed in place.





12,13 The completed model has received a coat of sandy- textured whitewash. This rounds-off the edges of the blocks of stone, roughens the exterior, and integrates the various elements of the structure. The whitewash, when thickly applied, acts as a form of plaster which was especially effective in covering over the battlement tops.




The mountain and other rocky surfaces are built up with newspaper bits immersed in dilutedwhite glue over odd pieces of cardboard, newspaper and expanded polystyrene ( JUBLO to the Maltese). Three coats of newspaper were applied over each other and allowed to dry overnight. A final coat of tissue (toilet ) paper was glue dabbed over the newspaper giving the rocky surfaces an authentic texture.



14 The Hornburg is finally complete. It has received a coat of automotive grey cellulose primer (3 cans!) and a wash of black oilcolour to pop out the stonework. This was followed by a dry-brush with white oil colour. Oil colour was used herebecause it travels better in crevices as a wash and gives a more subtle effect when dry-brushed.


A green wash was then applied to the rocky surfaces and a brown one to the fortifications to give some contrast between the two surfaces



 The Hornburg took four months to make and is 6 feet in width and two feet at its highest point. It occupied the space of a desk and finally a bed during construction. In the end though it was well worth the effort.


Copyright © AME 2006

Home | About Us | Copyright | Disclaimer | Contact Us

designed by Carl Mifsud