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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The Modern Japanese Fleet – Complete

Well, complete except for the aircraft.

The painting method of the Navwar ships was simple. I started by cutting some 3mm thick bases to an appropriate size. Added some Woodland Scenics Flex Paste to the base. Tapped my finger across the wet flex paste to give it some texture. I then slid the ship into the paste and waited for it all to dry.

I under-coated the ship and base in white. To see what I was doing, I then covered the whole ship and base in a black ink wash.

The base was then painted a dark blue (use your favourite). Once that was dry, a light blue was made into a thin wash and washed across the base (and I mean thin). When dry a colour like Games Workshop’s Citadel Snot Green (or whatever it is called these days) was also made into a very thin wash and washed across the base.

The ships were painted in Army Painter Ash Grey. I kind of use a wet/dry brush technique. Some black ink again and then a light grey touch on some of the raised detail and the vessels were painted, except for the helicopter markings on the stern. These were painted as much with a fine pen and ruler as possible however as I cannot find a yellow pen (go figure) I used Citadel’s Sun Shining out an Orc’s bottom Yellow and some careful(ish) brush work.

Add some name tags, some white paint, thinned, for the ship’s wash then gloss varnish on the sea surface and satin varnish on the ship. I’m quite happy with the way these have turned out, especially the simple sea bases. I will go back over the Chinese and Indians and gloss varnish the sea surface to make it more reflective.

The photos below were taken with a camera and because of the light, a flash, which has kind of washed the grey out a little like a sunny Pacific Ocean day. Next for the Japanese (and Chinese and Indians) is the aircraft – but that will need to wait until I sort out some employment.

New Naval Bases

Japanese to the front, Chinese in the middle and Indians at the rear
Japanese to the front, Chinese in the middle and Indians at the rear

I started the modern Japanese and for this fleet I am trying a little texture on the base. I will describe the method later (as I have shamelessly stolen it from the GHQ website and a YouTube video I think – more about that later).

In the meantime, Japanese to the front, Chinese in the middle and Indians bringing up the rear. The Chinese and Indian subs are on just a plain painted base, the Japanese on a newly, slightly textured one.

A close-up of the new textured bases
A close-up of the new textured bases

On the Workbench — Prototypes

A naked metal Tupolev and an Ilyushin overfly an undercoated Japanese vessel
A naked metal Tupolev and an Ilyushin overfly an undercoated Japanese vessel

Doing some prototype testing. Thought I’d start with the two biggest aircraft and see how the basing and painting would go.

I think future aircraft will be on sightly shorter stands — still thinking about that though!

One Thing I Love in Manila

I am staying at the Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences and need to get to the Shangri-lah Hotel. I used Google Maps for directions. Walking turns out to be faster than catching the bus! Traffic in Manila? Nah! 🙂

The Walk is faster than the bus
The Walk is faster than the bus

Un Chocolat Chaud


One of the nice things about spending a week in Brussels is the chocolate. One of my favourite chocolate dishes is hot chocolate. My local brasserie, Brasserie Merode, offers Un Chocolat Chaud.

This is essentially a cup of very hot milk and a block of dark chocolate. Insert the chocolate into the milk and stir it around. Bloody marvellous!

One less pleasant experience is walking home in the snow when the wind is blowing it directly into your face.

The SMH knows better where I am


I’ve been travelling again, a lot recently, in fact. Today I was in Jakarta again and over breakfast I opened the Sydney Morning Herald on the iPad for a quick update of the Australian news. One of the options available with the Herald iPad app is that the Herald will use location services to determine where you are and then give you the weather for that area.

Today the Herald decided I was on Christmas Island. Mind you, judging from the weather of Christmas Island, I think it would have been a better bet than Jakarta today 😆

Photo-etched Brass


It was my first time with the photo-etched brass and I was kind of nervous. The building that it was on was the GHQ Models Russian Orthodox Church. The brass parts were the crosses for the spires on the church.

The brass parts were easy to separate from the brass sheet, simply requiring a little careful work with a sharp knife. I then needed to smooth out (file) where the parts were connected to the brass sheet. Filing was a difficult task as the brass is fine and easy to bend, however, gentle filing with needle files smoothed them out.

A bit of superglue work (on my fingers as well as on the building) and the building was complete. It is now prepped in black undercoat and ready for paint as well.

You can see the brass crosses on the top of the building.

New Toys – The First South Americans


The mailman knocked and a parcel arrived from the nice folks at Tumbling Dice in the UK. The Peruvian and Chilean Navies in 1/2400th scale for my little South American project. I’ll post more detail over the weekend as I get these little beauties home and have a chance to shuffle them around the coffee table making suitable nautical sounds.