A reader recently suggested that I write how to's on some of my pieces, which sounds like a nice idea. So, I'll be starting a new series called "Snap! That's easy!" which I'll have a link to on the side. Note that I don't claim this is the best way to approach, but rather one that I found worked great for me. If you've a better way or technique/step that might work better, by all means comment. Also, these will be general guides as to the basic concept. You'll need to come up with your own final design based on your specific needs.
First installment is Shingled Wall. I tried a bunch of methods before stumbling on this one. Turns out, it's the easiest possible one I had found, taking little time and few pieces.
Challenge: To create a realistic shingled wall that is thin enough to butt wall corners next to each other and break open windows with a thin wall thickness (thin window sill).
Solution: creates a wall that is 2 plates thick (in most spots) and only 1 plate (tile) thick on the ends for windows and wall sides. This makes for realistic window spaces and really tight fits for corners. The basic idea here is that you will create the wall first – by stair stepping plates – and then attach the entire wall to the base. NOTE: this is not a load bearing wall. For this, I needed to create another wall behind it to support ceiling and other floors. I found I could assemble and attach a large wall perhaps 30 studs high by 40 or 50 wide in under an hour. Below you can see the final look of one of the walls.
STEP 1: The Wall
Stair step black plates 2 x (whatever length you need) on top of each other with one row of studs showing per plate. You can leave a space where windows might go. Be sure and stagger the lengths for basic strength. Black works best as any show through will go dark and shadow, which is what you want.
Add tiles 1 x (whatever length you need) of any color you like. Very important: make sure you overhang 1 stud length of the tile on the ends so that your wall is only 1 thick here. This will give you tight fit corners. Alternate lengths to whatever is aesthetically pleasing. You can use 1 x 2 grilles, 1 x 1 plates or 1 x 1 round plates or whatever creative idea you might have to distress, if that is the look you are going for. I also mix gray and bluish gray tiles to give a bit of discoloring that would naturally happen on the side of a house. To achieve the look that the panels are prying away from the wall, I used a micro screwdriver to gently, but firmly pry the plate away from plates for just a few studs. They hung on surprisingly well and I didn't have any problems with tiles popping off.
Turn around and add a column of stair stepping plates (pictured in red) behind the plates. This is for support. 2 x 3 works nice or 2 x 4. One plate thick is all you need. I was able to support walls 30 studs high just fine this way. If the wall is longer, make a couple of columns. This is particularly true when you cut out a window. In such cases, you'll want to add this plate support on each side (a few studs away) of the window.
STEP 4 (To attach to base)
After you have finished the wall, it is time to add supports that will attach it to the base and correctly pivot the wall so that the shingles angle out correctly. (I have added a vertical line, which better shows that the wall will appear vertical to the viewer. You will need to use Technic liftarms to this end. First, start with a T shaped one as shown which will be used to attach to the base. Next, use a 1 x 1 Technics Brick with hole and attach to the T liftarm with a Technics pin as shown. You will then need to attach the Technics brick to a 1 x 1 plate (pictured yellow) to separate the wall from the liftarm properly. Note, at this point do whatever you need to better support the brick to the wall. As shown, the yellow plate is not enough of a connection.
STEP 5 Strengthen Connection to Technics Brick Attachment
In step 4, we created the basic structure that will attach the wall to the base and allow the wall to pivot properly. Now we need to better support the connect to the Technics brick. In Step 4 we connected the wall to the Technics brick with a 1 x 1 plate (pictured yellow). Next we need to reinforce that weak connection so that it won't immediately fall apart with the weight of the wall.
This step is variable and depends a bit on how tight your spacing is and how good you are with support. For myself, I don't think I'm great and I tend to be a bit sloppy behind the scenes in general. Rather than a step by step on this, I'll just say that what basically worked for me was to add a longer plate behind the Technic brick with one hole and build to the wall again using a combination of bricks and plates. In this diagram, I made the brick transparent so you can see it is to one side of the previously pictured Technics brick.
Note: For high walls, you will need to add another liftarm to the one pictured in order to extend it up. After you do this, continue again with Steps 4 and 5 to connect again to the wall. This can get tricky as not every position on the liftarm will mathematically allow the brick to properly angle to meet the wall. Experiment to see which hole will get the brick to meet the wall.
STEP 6 Attach to Base
Many ways to do this. What worked for me was to add two 1 x 2 with studs on both sides to BOTH SIDES of the holes marked in green. So, you will have one brick on each side of the liftarm. For more support, connect the two bricks with a plate on the top studs.
Good luck with your shingling project!