Making Paper Log Cabins

2 May 2020

This is something I've been thinking of trying for a while, and while putting together the pictures for yesterday's photo reference, I decided to try it with a log cabin. The idea is to use photos I have and a lot of photoshop work to create a photorealistic paper terrain piece. Read on to learn how I did it and download the files necessary to make your own!


Paper cabin

I chose to do a cabin because structurally they're very simple, and I could make just a simple box style building. First I had to find the walls - the longer walls are made up from one of the photos I took of an old cabin. I had to do a lot of photoshop work to straighten the image, remove the door and the part of the cabin covered by the tree branch. Then I photoshopped the door back in for one side. If you look close you can probably see the blending. The ends of the cabin are actually from another old cabin pic I had that I didn't use in the article.

Then I took part of a picture of the "new old cabin" to make the shingles for the roof. That required a lot of work to make a large shingle texture file.

Paper cabin, back and side


To assemble the cabin, first print the walls and sides. You will need to determine what size to print it at - this varies depending on what program you use to print the file with - just try to make sure that the wall heights will end up the same. Then I roughly cut the prints out and sprayed artists adhesive glue on them, then applied them to foam core. Then I used a very shap xacto knife to cut out the pieces. For the corners I had cut notches for where the roof comes out from the sides of the end pieces. I also cut away a bit of the foam backing on the long side pieces so that only the printed paper remained - this allows an inset for the end pieces to go into. Then just glued it all together and let it dry. I used a dark marker to try to cover up some of the white paper showing at the corners - that could have been done better. I used some clear tape to reinforce the corners.

For the roof, I just measured how large of a square of printed roof I would need and printed it out. I used a piece of thick paper for backing and pasted it on. You'll notice the roof paper overhangs a bit - doesn't look bad from the top, but I can always trim it with scissors if need be.

I think this makes for a pretty quick way to get some cheap, light-weight and pretty attractive buildings for your wargames. Moreover with some math you can figure out what scale to print the files at to allow you to make buildings at any scale.

Click here to download the files for this cabin. Because some people may want to use this at large scales, I've included the highest resolution files possible - so the zip file ispretty large!

I'll probably do more of these in the future, so stay tuned!