Sunday, September 10, 2017

What Is My Time Worth, Part 3: Painting the Hull

As the title says, this is the point where lots of paint starts getting sprayed, brushed, rebrushed and otherwise applied.  So, how do we get from this:

Full disclosure: This is not the one I am painting.  I forgot to take a
picture of it unpainted.

to this:
Perhaps I should have taken this off the painting stick so you could see the
hull a bit better?

I use a black spray paint undercoat for my hull and my masts.  While it does mute the colors that go over it somewhat, it has the advantage of hiding any small areas that my paint job misses.  A white or grey undercoat, on the other hand, makes those areas stand out even more.  What you can't do though, is just use the undercoat as your base coat and paint around it.  Even though the model is on a painting stick, the undercoat will still rub off from handling.  So yes, the black undercoat then gets a coat of black on top of it.  😒  Of course, it doesn't have to be black.  I've also used Payne's Gray on hulls, and it gives a different, shinier look than straight black.

I had originally thought about doing the ship based on the painting of HMS Euryalus in The  Trafalgar Companion, which shows her looking like this:

I later chose against it, mainly because I was tired of painting a scheme I've come to refer to as BBB (Basic Boring British).  Instead, I pulled out my Anatomy of the Ship: The Frigate Diana and decided to go that way instead.  If you're not familiar with that book, HMS Diana looks like this:

A bit more colorful than HMS Euryalus is portrayed, to say the least! So, why did I choose this paint scheme instead of the previous one?  My rationales go like this:
  1. When I get to play the Battle of Trafalgar, the smaller ships likely won't be on the table,
  2. It is still an authentic historical paint scheme,
  3. The earlier paint scheme of Diana will give me more use out of the ship, and 
  4. I was tired of painting black and yellow (Did I mention that earlier?  I feel like I might have.).
 When I paint a hull I do the deck first, then the sides, and then finish up with the bow and stern.  I don't use washes because I have never managed to get a good hand on using them.  They either come out too dark, or with no effect at all other than muddying up all the colors.  So, what you see on the upper deck is the end result of painting and then careful touch-up work.  It is probably slower than using washes, but it's also the only way I know how to paint.  The bow and stern are painted the same way:  Paint, touch-up and re-touch until it looks right.

If you look at the hull, you'll see that the gunports without covers are painted in either a dark gray (in the hull) or a lighter gray (on the upper deck).  I do this so that it gives the effect of light coming through the gunports on the upper deck, or the shadows of the gundeck.  The hull gunports on this ship are particularly dark, because I figured that the boats on the skid beams will block out most of the light coming into the lower deck.  The light gray areas around the upper deck are hammock storage, and the dark brown lines on them represent the stanchions that support the netting.  The Langton manual on painting suggests painting light brown or gray criss crossed lines to represent the netting, but I can't do that neatly.

I don't have a specific time breakdown for each part of painting the hull, because it's not really that simple.  I know I said deck, hull and then bow/stern but it's not quite that simple.  When I'm painting the hull, if I see something I missed on the deck then I go back and fix it.  The only thing that I can say with any certainty is that it took 50 minutes to paint the stern and quarter galleries to my satisfaction.  Overall though, my notes show that it took 185 minutes to completely paint the hull.  Given that my timing isn't totally exact, I'm OK with saying that it took 3 hours to go from bare metal to finished hull.  In the next installment, I'll paint the masts and get them ready to glue into the ship.


  1. Replies
    1. It does sound terrible, doesn't it? "Oh my God, three hours!" However, that is a bit misleading as it wasn't three hours in a single go.

      While I can't tell you how many minutes were spent on each part of the hull, I can tell you how long the painting sessions were. I painted the hull in seven sessions: 1x4 minutes (that was priming), 1x32 minutes, 2x22 minutes, 1x55 minutes, 1x40 minutes and 1x10 minutes. If you average them out, the mean session time is only about 26.4 minutes. If you don't count the priming, then the average session becomes about 30 minutes. Now that doesn't sound so bad. When I added the times up, I have to admit that I went, "wow, didn't FEEL like three hours or thereabouts."

  2. Looks great so far. Your comments make me want to invest in that Langton painting guide.

    When it comes to assembly, painting, etc..there is actual time spent on the model and the real time it takes to get all hobby time in.

    I like this series of posts and looking forward to the next one.

  3. Stew,
    It's mostly a rigging guide, but it does have some nice painting suggestions as well. You'll be seeing a lot more of it on here when I start rigging the model, that's for sure.

    You're absolutely right about the model time and real time requirements. I've always guessed that we spend 90% of our time painting and only 10% playing. That is why I prefer the Langton models; if we're going to spend most of the time painting then you might as well paint the best models out there. Fortunately, I'm now in a position where the model time/real life time divide is in my favor. If anything, my problem is that if I'm not careful I fritter the day away doing other stuff.

    The posting rate here may drop off for the next couple of weeks. I have another game project that I'm getting ready for our convention at the USS Texas in October. I will put that up on a new blog page when I'm closer to being done. It has nothing to do with sailing ships, but the header DOES say, "and other game things that attract my attention."