Tutorial: American Snake Fence September 21, 2021 20:51

For the past two years, I have been collecting and painting miniatures for an ACW table to play Sharp Practice. What I had lacked were the iconic snake fences which give an American themed table context. 

I had researched images and read blogs before coming up with my take on the snake fence.

My initial design for the bases were straight rectangles. After mocking up a couple, I disliked the hard straight edge which provided too much of a contrast to the split rails. 

The 2nd draft was a more organic look which evolved to be thicker to allow for leaning timber on the joints. (More on this later) 

After cutting and making up a batch of the 2nd draft, I found that storage may be aproblem. 

Draft 3, the final iteration was interlinked pieces to allow maximum use of storage in a Really Useful Box. 

I used a combination or wooden pound shop tooth picks and large "cooks" matches. Guidelines to follow are engraved on the bases.  

American Snake Fence bases (set of 7)

I then proceeded as follows holding a base strip like a letter "W" I glued down matchsticks I had previously distressed with a craft knife on the far right / then another parallel to this // 

At either end I glued on off cuts of wood approx 5mm long.

I then built up to a level of from right to left 5, 4, 5, 4 

At irregular places I glued on further distressed matchsticks sloping intowards the joins. TIP: if you place one sloping away on the far left, it will help to conseal the join when fences are laid in a row. 

Before I applied any paint I glued down small pieces of stone and gravel chips ( partly from a fish tank) to represent stone that has been unearthed during the use of the field and placed to the edge. 

To paint the fences I followed a guide from John Bond:


In summary:

Spray black

drybrush flat earth

drybrush green grey (vallejo 707886)

daub a little drybrush Middlestone (vallejo 70882 although my pot is worn and difficult ot read)

drybrush a pale off white or light grey. 

I place the flat earth on card and use a large soft bristle brush for drybrushing. I use the same card and do not wash the brush between colours to get a subtle blend of colour. 

For the gates: 

After much experimentation, I drew to the conclusion that one rail will need to be on a slope. I chose the longest rail to make the gradient as shallow as possible. One the double gates, no small 5mm sections will be needed to support the ends. For the single gates, treat the long pieces as every other end and use the 5mm spacers. 

The gate posts height will vary depending on how high you make the fences; mine came out in the region of 23mm. I lightly tapered the lower end of the post and glued in place. Before the glue was dry on both fence pieces, I glued in the gates and ensured that the posts were vertical before setting aside to dry. 

NOTE: the vertical fence posts were sunk into the ground and do not touch the rail fence.  

For the open gates, I spread a thin layer of filler and dusted with fine sand. On the wide gate, I bent some plastic into a horseshoe shape and impressed a few prints for flavour. 

The bases I painted flat earth and lighlty drybrushed the sand in the gate entrances with a bone colour. The stones were painted dark grey, given a highlight of pale grey and then I applied a "Russian Earth" weathering powder from MIG. 

My final piece of work was to flock and apply static grass tufts, clump foliage and a few corn plants I had left over from making crop fields. 

I hope you find this of use.