Ships of the line - in contrast

For Poldercon 2020, I painted several Black Seas ships for the participation game I was running there. Now here was the problem, how to transport a whole pile of ships in my luggage from the UK to the Netherlands. The answer was simple, in kit form. So I had to come up with an elaborate way to paint them on the sprue, and then assemble them in the Netherlands.

I started before I left the UK by spraying the sprues white with primer. I then coloured each individual section using Citadel Contrast paints. Instead of using painting guides, I looked at old paintings of naval battles for inspiration. A quick Google-Fu can turn up several impressive images of naval battles of the Napoleonic period. Perfect!

I found several colours from the Contrast range which were of great use to me. I always started with a white undercoat. The Contrast Skeleton Horde was great for a light wood deck colour. For the darker wooden parts of ship's hulls, I either used Aggaros Dunes Contrast or Nazdreg Yellow Contrast, which makes a good 'baby puke yellow' for British ships. Different combinations of the three gave me more colour options.

Black Templar Contrast was used for the crossbars of the masts and on the black parts of the hulls. As cannon mounts and the inside of the hulls were typically red, I used Flesh Tearers Red (for the British) and Blood Angel Red Contrast (for other nations) on these. The cannons themselves were done initially with Black Templar, then with Vallejo Mettalic Black (073). For the furled sails, I used Contrast Apothecary White.

These require a few touch ups before they are finished.

While a little care is required with using the paints (the trick is to use enough but not too much), the overall result was very satisfying and quick. There was the odd mistake, but I found where the paints overlapped, a tiny bit of white primer and a covering of the original colour could hide most errors or where I had cut the finished model from the sprue.

The Bucentaure just needs sails and rigging.

With this done, I simply had to assemble the ships, touch up any parts where the sprue met (apply white undercoat then the contrast colour to patch). I did not have time to add the rigging and sails, but this didn't matter much. I had the ships I needed for the demo. Contrast paints can be a useful asset. I still view the Citadel Contrast as only one tool in the painter's box - providing an undercoat and first basecoat. Additional highlights should go on top, but they get the job done and with a little skill, done well.



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