Painting Sea Bases (and some ships)

I put together some images of setting sea bases underneath 1/3000 scale model ships. I did dry brush rather more heavily then intended on one pass but overall, the information is good for those preparing small scale model naval vessels.

I based this exercise on two French Armoured cruisers from the early 20th Century – the Ernest Renan and Jules Michelet. The models were sourced from Navwar. They are presented as images below. Click on the images for a expanded view.

The Ernest Renan – French Armoured Cruiser and the Navwar model

I should note as well that this was part of a presentation put together for the Virtual Wargames Club, one of my two connections to sense, relaxation and de-stressing in this increasingly stressful world.

The Jules Michelet – French Armoured Cruiser

Why two French cruisers from prior to World War I? I did toy with the idea of using a couple of battleships but given the choice of the excessive tumblehomes of the battleships compared with the multiple funnels of the cruisers, it was a tough choice. However, who doesn’t like all these funnels?

THe models (both sides) and the material for the masts

Clean up the models, add the masts using the TLAR (That Looks About Right) principle.

Preparing the models

Next we get down and dirty.

Getting messy fingers – making waves

For this step I keep a damp rag or some damp kitchen towel handy to wipe the fingers off. Makes it easier that way. Also, once done, the fingers wash off quite well in soap and water.

I then looked at painting just the water surface but decided to paint the vessels anyway as part of the process.

Painting part 1 – view from left to right

First step, undercoating and I had some brown undercoat from Vallejo I wanted to try. That was followed by covering ship and base with black, then in order:

  1. Dark Blue (Prussian Blue or similar)
  2. A middle shade of blue, applied as a kind of heavy dry-brush
  3. A light blue (in this case, something like a sky blue) also dry brushed a little less heavily
  4. A very thin wash of a light green – in this case, lime green but Citadel has some bright fluorescent greens that will work well. This wash, applied lightly and wet will give a hint of green phosphorescence when the base is finished

After painting the bases, a medium sea grey and black wash was added to the ships

Painting part 2 – view from left to right

Medium sea grey is now brushed over the vessel then the ships are painted with the various colours for the deck, corticene areas, and black in the area where the coaling occurs. Black on the funnels and masts and lastly, a light dry brushing of white on the water surface.

The final product – and two other variations on a sea base

The wakes are then painted on the final version for the two vessels (see the left most images) and voila, done! Some varnishing can be done with your favourite varnish.

The other two images are other variations of a similar process with the Dante Alighieri illustrating the lazy man version of the Sea Base.

I do trust you have enjoyed this how-to post.


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Plastic Basing Material

When I was in Singapore I found a plastic sheet in 1m, 2mm, and 3mm thickness. It sliced easily with a carton cutter knife, resisted warping (although not totally as it seems from recent experience) an holds glue and paint quite well.

I have not been able to find it anywhere else until a week ago when I took a Saturday afternoon out at the mall. It was the first outing since the start of quarantine here in Manila, so first time out in 3.5 months. While out I stopped into the National Bookstore in Glorietta Mall for some stationery. Enjoying some loiter time (there were only about 8 people in the queue behind me waiting to get in so I figured I could browse for 10 minutes at least.

I came across this PVC board shown above. BLoody brilliant stuff and cheap as chips. As I can now find this in Manila, there must be similar in other locations. Great stuff!

Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert – Review

Andy Singleton is a professional figure painter. After some encouragement, he has penned Painting Wargaming Figures: WWII in the Desert. This has been published by Pen & Sword Military. It contains around 200 illustrations over its 157 pages (ISBN: 9781526716316, published on 7 May 2019).

Singleton has broken the book up into two main sections, the first part dealing with the basics, and the second part dealing with specific forces from within the war in North Africa, namely the armies of:

  • Britain and Commonwealth
  • Italy
  • United States of America
  • Afrika Korps

The last two sections in the book deal with Camouflaged Uniforms and Basing.

Each section is split into three levels of complexity, “conscript”, “regular” and “elite”.

Conscript is like the beginning painter level and will get armies onto the table quickly. As the painter develops their skills, or for readers who have painted figures before, the regular and elite levels provide greater degrees of complexity in painting of the figures.

Singleton covers both plastic and metal figures and while all the illustrated figures in the book are either 20mm or 28mm figures, certainly the techniques could be used for figures of 10mm or larger. 6mm and 2/3mm figures require a different approach to painting altogether.

Andy uses much the same techniques in the painting sections with a little variation. The paints her iuses are the popular Army Painter and Vallejo ranges of acrylics and for each figure he is illustrating, he provides a paint bill of materials for both Army Painter and Vallejo paints.

I will admit that my preferred size for World War 2 gaming is 6mm (1/300, 1/285) and as mentioned above, painting figures of that size requires a different approach to painting.

However, recently the publications of Too Fat Lardies for Chain of Command and What a Tanker have me considering some 20mm or 28mm forces. North Africa seems a reasonable location to try those rules, especially with the early war equipment from the Italians and Commonwealth Forces, then the Commonwealth and Germany followed by the introduction of the USA and some Free French forces.

The section on Basing is perhaps the simplest section in the book given that the setting for the forces is North Africa where we are dealing with sand, sand and more sand … except for the dust!

I do think that the softback of this book is a shade expensive for, although if puchased in the context of a club library, would be a good edition. The Kindle or ePub version is better value I think.

The painting advice is good and following Singleton’s suggestions will have the gamer producing either quick armies at Conscript level or very well painted forces at Elite level.

Singleton also has a Painting Guide out for Early Imperial Romans (released in November 2019). Keep an eye out for Andy Singleton’s next book as well – Painting Wargame Figures: Rome’s Northern Enemies due for release in June 2020. Both these books will fit nicely for those of us considering the Too Fat Lardies new rules, Infamy, Infamy!

 

Sea Bases

Magnet attached to Base

Making the Sea Bases is a fairly straightforward, although slightly messy process. To be totally honest, I stole the method from the GHQ website but adapted what was there for the bases under the vessels. I also used Vallejo or Citadel paints for colouring the bases then varnished with Vallejo or Army Painter varnishes.

The method, starting from scratch. I found some brilliant board in Art Friend, Singapore, that I have not found elsewhere . It is, I am sure, a plastic of some sort but behaves in many respects like a cardboard. If you are reading this Doug, I seem t recall showing you a piece in Canberra one or two lifetimes ago 🙂 

Anyway, the process should work well with MDF or other materials as well although I am not sure I would try with cardboard (does anyone base on cardboard anymore?).

Magnetic strip is added under the base for those times transporting. The Navwar metal ships are probably robust enough to handle some bouncing around during transport but Fujimi plastics, and I guess GHQ Micronauts are a little more fragile with more parts that can break off.

Flex Paste spread across base, ships pressed in

The next step is to spread some of the flex paste across the base. This is kind a hit and miss at the start until you get used to working with it but I reckon a depth of approximately 1mm is good. I then wait a couple of minutes for it to start to dry a little. 

Next step is to lightly tap a finger across the top. This will add the wave shapes to the surface. the surface can be shaped as well to make a more regular wave pattern or wakes for the vessels (remembering the Kelvin angle of 19 degrees from centre line).

The ship can then be pressed into the surface, perhaps even sliding it forward a little to add a little dimension to the wake on the bow.  

If not able to get Woodland Scenics Flex Paste, which is great for this and some other modelling tasks, maybe the same can be achieved with something like Polyfilla, although I have not tried that. This jar of Flex Pastes has lasted me about 5 years so far and has not dried out greatly yet.

Ship on base. The paste is usually enough to hold it in place

Taking a closer look to the image to the right and below and you can see the rippled surface.

At this point, I leave the vessel embedded in the base overnight to let the Flex Paste dry properly and cure. I have not had any warping on the bases of any of the ships I have based this way.

I guess it would be possible to paint after a couple of hours.

I should add as well that when doing this, it is useful to have a damp rag handy to wipe finger on as the Flex Paste will build up there. I have not had any problems either just using a naked finger and/or a coffee stirrer to do these bases. 

A better close up of the surface prior to painting

For painting the bases, firstly I undercoat the base and the ship in water undercoat suits the painting style I am using. For recent vessels this has been grey. I then use four colours in the following order:

  1. Dark blue
  2. Light or fluorescent green
  3. Light blue
  4. White

The process is to first paint the base in dark blue as a foundation coat. Next the green is thinned down, to almost invisible – say 1:5 or 1:6. The base is then washed in the green. When that dries, a dry brush of light blue followed by a light dry brush of white.

Paint the ship, then using white again, run it down the side of the vessel, letting it thin as you drag it down to make the wake on the side of the ship. When dry, the sea can be varnished, other in satin of gloss varnish, depending on what you prefer. The vessel can also be varnished, in matt or satin. Voila, you have a ship that looks like it is at sea.

The final result – in this case, satin varnish on the sea surface

Two Weeks Locked Up, Two Weeks to Go!

Two weeks of extended community quarantine have now passed and while the daytime has mostly been taken up with work from home tasks, late night to relax I have been working on some 1/3000 scale Fujimi models of modern Japanese warships.

These are delightful models, full of character and detail. When compared to the humble Navwar models I painted a couple of years ago, well, there is no real comparison. Admittedly these are somewhat more expensive, maybe 1.5 times the cost of Navwar and plastic so lack the reassuring heft of metal models, but the final result of a little work, and they look absolutely wonderful.

The decals that come with the models really make these too, even down to hull numbers on the vessel, something that is far above my painting skill. 

I am becoming a big fan of decals for 1/3000 scale models and the flight deck decals that are produced for the 1/3000 scale Navwar aircraft carriers are brilliant, really making the model stand out, however, they are really only available for aircraft carriers.

The decals for these Fujimi vessels perform the same magic, marking the landing spot for the ships’ helicopter(s).  This box represent the first flotilla of the modern Japanese fleet, circa 1995. I have another box of Fujimi ships that represent the same flotilla several years advanced, including a full-on helicopter carrier, a DDH that is currently under conversion to become an aircraft carrier.

As for the community quarantine, it is tough residing in 42 square metres. In the afternoon I walk to the local convenience store for “food” – in my case, a large can of beer. It is my only outside time unless I am called into the office. I do hope that after the month that Metro Manila, indeed, Luzon, has spent locked up flattens the curve enough for us to rejoin the world outside, and safely for us old-timers.

So, for sanity’s sake, my late evening, after work, was spent adding just one colour to the models, followed by the can of beer then sleep. Last weekend was the first one off as well and that allowed me to finish the vessels. You can see the progress below:

Next task, in the late evening, tidy up my work/hobby table. Yes, it is a shared space. Then decide on the next painting project.

Labels on 1/3000 scale ship models

Japanese vessels – ready for Modern Naval Wargames

With a large collection of 1/3000 sale ships (more unpainted than painted I will admit), remembering the name of all the vessels can be a memory trial. As the vessels are primarily painted to wargame with, it is good if both sides can see the vessels name during battle.

One option is to put the name under the base, but this suffers from the vessels being lifted off the game surface constantly to check. A second is to add the name to a tab at the rear of the base, in the wake as it were, in the same way that Figurehead provide a label area for their 1/6000 scale vessels.

Chilean Navy Ensign

I prefer to base my vessels on 3mm thick bases and add the vessels name to the side. The 3mm thick base is good as it allows those of us with corpulent fingers to grip the base and not hold the vessel in our fingers. More importantly, I like how it looks 🙂

The method used to produce the base labels is quite straightforward.  Using word processing software such a Microsoft Word or similar, I create a table of six columns. In the second, fourth and sixth columns I type the vessel’s name.  Let’s use three modern Chilean Naval units for an example: Almirante Cochrane – a British Type 23 class; Capitán Prat and Almirante Latorre – Jacob van Heemskerck class.

Ensign placed

I then decide on whether I will add the national flag or the naval ensign. I usually lean towards the ensign although in some navies the national flag and the ensign are the same. In this case, a hunt on Wikipedia for “Chilean Navy” will return the basic details, including national flag and ensign.

Table set to Autofit to contents

Next step is to resize the text. The font I use is Calabri (not sure what the Apple font equivalent is) and it is set to “bold” and resized to 6pts. I also set the table contents to “Autosize to contents”.

The ensign is then copied and pasted to the first column, first row of the spreadsheet. It is usually quite large at this point. Once the ensign has been copied in, then we resize that image, using the size of the text as a guideline.

Ensign resized

The image of the ensign is then copied to the empty cells we have ready for the. We set the wrap text option for the image to “square”

It can then be moved to the next column where the name of the vessel is.

Set the distance between image and text … make 0.1cm in this case

When formatting the layout of the image, under text wrapping set the “Distance from Text”, Right to 0.1cm (or 1mm).

After this it is pretty much straight sailing.

Drag the ensigns to the left of the name of the vessel (see Almirante Cochrane below). Once the columns the flags were originally in are empty, they can be deleted.

The table can then have a design adjustment in “Borders and Shading” by turning off the cell lines in the table.

Select the table one last time, set font colour to “white” and the “fill colour” to a dark blue, close to the shade you will use on the base. You end up with something like below.

The final name labels

Of course, when I got to the end of this it occurred to me that the blue on the ensign may make it disappear after printing. In this case I would add a white border around the image.

I then use a sharp knife to slice the names from the sheet and some PVA glue to affix to the base. Slap on a bit of varnish and job done!

Moving Right Along – Wargaming Tasks – 2019 update!

I indulged myself in January 2019 when I posted Wargaming Tasks – 2019 – another indulgence I am sure! Apart from the miserably poor painting performance over the period 2017 to 2019, I noted some other items on the list including:

  • Anthony’s 20mm World War II British
  • Finish off the 1/285 scale World War II Japanese
  • 1/285 scale World War II Hungarians
  • 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes to be completed
  • 1/1200 scale Coastal Warfare Ships
  • The 1/3000 scale Jutland Fleets
  • Houston Ships Italians and Austrians from the Battle of Lissa
  • Dystopian Wars fleets, and
  • Peshawar and the 2mm armies and aeronefs

Well, I can say that in April 2019, flat out at work though I was, I did find some painting time over Holy Week here and have managed to continue painting a couple of nights a week. Anthony’s World War 2 British are now set for return to Anthony on my next trip through Singapore.

Well except that the 2-pdr and 6-pdr needs one more coat of paint or two 🙂 Late Update (May 2nd): the 2-pdr and 6-pdr are now finished as well. Job completed, finally!

I also managed to spend some time working on repurposing my Middle Imperial Romans – these were painted by a paint shop and were organised for SPQR (Polemos rules) but I decided to re-purpose them to DBA and Impetus – using a 40mm base.

I also managed to start work on my modern Soviet Naval group by starting to read the Naval Institute Press’s Admiral Gorshkov. A review of that will be coming soon as well as photographic progress of the painting of that fleet.

I also managed a few book reviews, principally Silver State Dreadnought – The Remarkable Story of Battleship Nevada; Maritime Operations in the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-1905, Volume 2 – Julian S. Corbett – Review; World Naval Review 2019 – ed. Conrad Waters – Review; and Narrow Gauge in the Somme Sector – by Martin J. B. Farebrother, Joan S. Farebrother – Book Review. I have another 7 or 8 books in the reading and review pile. The next one is likely to be dealing with Coastal Forces which runs the risk of distracting me from my 1/3000 naval and ancient wargames and lead me into 1/1200 coastal forces!

I also still have in the queue:

  1. 6mm 1815 Prussians – Heroics and Ros figures
  2. 6mm Napoleonic Poles – Baccus 6mm
  3. Some 6mm Napoleonic German states – Adler figures
  4. 6mm Baccus Napoleonic Brunswickers and Dutch Belgians
  5. My 1/3000 Russo-Japanese War fleets – with about half of the vessels repainted into more correct colours
  6. A 6mm Baccus English Civil War starter set – both sides. I am trying to decide however whether to use them for the English Civil War or the Thirty Years War. That internal debate should keep them off the painting queue for some time
  7. Heroics and Ros 6mm Greeks for yet another Ancient project. I am still waiting on the delivery from Rapier Miniatures, but I fear these are the first order to the Philippines to go astray as it has been over 6 months now Update (May 1st) – I just received an email from Stefan at Rapier (not bad, about one hour after posting this) to note that the parcel was sent but they will send again. Brilliant service guys – thank you.
  8. Heroics and Ros 6mm modern French for Cold War Commander
  9. Fujimi 1/3000th Pacific War World War II ships. These are nice, see Fujimi Navwar 1/3000 Naval Vessels Ready for Paint for images
  10. Seven fleet packs from Navwar – 1/3000 scale ships, for:
    1. Modern British
    2. Modern Dutch
    3. Modern French
    4. Modern Italian
    5. Modern US
    6. World War I Argentinian
    7. World War I Brazilian

So, add to that the other stock items here such as the fleets from the Battle of Matapan, Philippine Sea and Jutland and I am likely to be busy for a few years yet!

 

Past the Block

Or at least I will be if manage to paint some more tomorrow night. All it needed was a good Fokker – a Fokker D.XIII D.XXI.

I decided that I would work on the Winter War 1/285 scale aircraft that I have in a set – Finnish fighter, Soviet bombers and fighters. These game from Raiden Miniatures. Tonight I managed to paint a top surfaces white (Army Painter flat white), the under surfaces light Grey (Tamiya British Light Aircraft Grey) and then start on the Olive Green disruptive pattern. Photos below.

I stopped at the point I did for two reasons. One os that I was not going to paint past midnight and the second was that Tamiya does not play well with Army Painter paints and the top colour was starting to strip the white. Hopefully tomorrow there will have been a more thorough drying and thr Tamiya will not strip the Army Painter..

Lastly, I started on the Fokker D.XIII D.XXI simply because I could not find the Brewster Buffaloes. They will be next on the list.

Prussians – 1813-1815

As I have been suffering a painting block, I thought I would do some mundane things like sorting and tidying over the weekend to see if that helped me over the block. The Prussian project I started nine years ago seemed like a good place to start. I had brought the figures from Australia to Manila packed rather well as it turned out – they survived the trip in Hold Baggage well. The figures painted and based are below.

Those still requiring the bases to be finished are included the following image.

The full force thus far – including those with part finished bases

So far looking at the painted figures, while the infantry uniforms are a Prussian Blue, it appears almost black here. I am thinking I will need to lighten them up a little.

I am happy with the artillery and cavalry colours however.

Once I started unpacking the unpainted figures, I quickly got a sense of the size of this project as in total, when completed, the force will consist of:

  • 33 Infantry Bases (792 figures)
  • 14 Cavalry Bases (140 figures)
  • 12 Artillery Bases (12 guns, 12 limbers and 60 crew)

All the unpainted Prussians in the box now. Time to get cracking

I’m building the army with Heroics and Ros figures. H&R do a Prussian musketeer which I am using for the musketeers and fusiliers, the stovepipe British for the reserve infantry and then the Landwehr figures for the Landwehr. That seems to provide enough variety between the figures.

The Landwehr will be in dark blue coats, the same as the regulars, but some will be in white trousers, some in grey. Perhaps even in a couple of battalions I’ll mix the trousers in the battalion. I haven’t thought that far in yet.

The reserve infantry (British in stovepipe shako) look the part, especially compared to some of the images from the time. The only minor quibble I have with the detail is that the Brits have a backpack and the almost ubiquitous Prussian blanket roll is missing. To be fair to myself however, I have seen a picture of a Prussian reserve infantry figure like that – with pack and sans blanket. Colour of the Reserve Infantry will be a mix of grey and blue uniforms, and maybe even the odd red battalion – again, I am still researching that.

 

Wargaming Tasks – 2019 – another indulgence I am sure!

Back in 2017 I wrote a post, a Self Indulgence – the Wargaming Tasks for 2017 which was, really, a self indulgence. Doubly so as I achieved the following in the two years since then … painted 24 tanks for the Cold War Poles, 12 for the Cold War Danes and prepped the rest of the Poles. So, the painting queue then is still there in the painting queue now.

I also noted that apart from the items illustrated in that painting queue (none of which have had anything done to them), I had a few other items on that list including:

  • Anthony’s 20mm World War II British
  • Finish off the 1/285 scale World War II Japanese
  • 1/285 scale World War II Hungarians
  • 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes to be completed
  • 1/1200 scale Coastal Warfare Ships
  • The 1/3000 scale Jutland Fleets
  • Houston Ships Italians and Austrians from the Battle of Lissa
  • Dystopian Wars fleets, and
  • Peshawar,

I am pleased to report that over the past two years, while doing some work on Anthony’s 20mm World War II British, they are not yet finished (although I am planning on correcting that error tonight as I reckon they are my painting block).

I did complete the 1/300 scale Cold War Commander Danes … mostly. There  is a useable army there with reinforcements in the form of some Leopard tanks but there are still about 12 bases of Infantry that can be painted and added to that army to finalize it.

The 1/1200 Coastal Warfare boats and ships have been based and undercoated and I have also added Italian MAS boats to the collection.

And that is all.

So, to all of the above, which is still outstanding I have added to the paint queue by either order or bringing from Oz:

  1. 6mm Prussians – 1813 Napoleonic Prussians. I actually started these back on 2010 but have bundled them up and brought them over from Oz – Heroics and Ros figures
  2. Some 6mm Napoleonic Poles – Baccus 6mm I think
  3. Some 6mm Napoleonic German states – Adler I think (actually I need to sort points 2 and 3 out one Saturday afternoon)
  4. 6mm Baccus Napoleonic Brunswickers and Dutch Belgians (on order) – don’t ask me why, it just seemed like a good idea at the time
  5. My 1/3000 Russo-Japanese War fleets – with about half of the vessels repainted into more correct colours
  6. A 6mm Baccus English Civil War started set – both sides. I am trying to decide however whether to use them for the English Civil War or the Thirty Years War. That internal debate should keep them off the painting queue for some time
  7. Heroics and Ros, and Rapier Miniatures, 6mm Greeks for yet another Ancient project
  8. Heroics and Ros 6mm modern French for Cold War Commander
  9. Fujimi 1/3000th Pacific War World War II ships. These are nice, see Fujimi Navwar 1/3000 Naval Vessels Ready for Paint for images
  10. Seven fleet packs from Navwar – 1/3000 scale ships, for:
    1. Modern British
    2. Modern Dutch
    3. Modern French
    4. Modern Italian
    5. Modern US
    6. World War I Argentinian
    7. World War I Brazilian

So, add to that the other stock items here such as the fleets from the Battle of Matapan, Philippine Sea and Jutland and you can see that if a wargamer never dies while ever he has items to paint, I should live tp about 150.

Oh, and to add to all that, I brought a couple of boardgames back that I really want to get some game time on!

My painting queue, an indulgence indeed!