So you want to paint a ship…? Tutorial: Part Two

GM_Forge LOGO art2

Okay, so I warned you this might be slow going.  Deep in some deadline driven work on the comic so I was distracted for a few days with no chance to paint during breaks. Finally found sometime before supper tonight. This step will be brief.


First layer of paint

This step is easy. Basically we’re covering up the primer we applied from the last step.

Now not all wood (or ships for that matter) are going to be the same exact shade or in the same state of distress/weathering — so nothing that follows is an exact science. It just happens to be the way I paint these boats. Since I sell them handprinted I try to be semi-consistent in the interest of just speeding things up with fewer chances of screwing up a paint job. I’m comfortable with this method and it consistently works.

For different results you can go with different shades of paint. We’re going to be applying three basic shades of brown to complete our ship. With a possible fourth shade to make things pop (I don’t always apply the fourth shade – just depends on my mood).

In this step we are only going to be applying the first shade and letting it dry over night.

You want a dark brown acrylic for this step. Not brown but DARK  chocolate brown. You might have to mix a dab of black to your paint. Again the exact shade isn’t important. You just want to be in the ballpark. If you have a hershey candy bar wrapper – that’s about the shade I shoot for.



And yes, you could go out and buy a shade of acrylic craft paint that matches. I just find it’s easy to mix it up on the fly on a pallet.

Once you have the the proper shade you want to thin it with water. A consistency of milk is about right but if you’ve got a good quality paint the covers well you can go thinner. You want this coast to pour into all the nail holes and plank lines. It might not look it when you are finished with the step, but this is the paint that’s going to bring out the contrast int he woodgrain and planks and transform it later when we start dry brushing the other shades on.

I use a 1/2 inch house paint brush to do these boats – putting the paint on heavy and then dabbing off the excess. Since the paint is watered down it’s going to dry and tighten up very thin, so you don’t have to be overly concerned about the paint glowing on or filling in detail.

When you are done your ship should look like it’s made of dark chocolate like this.


Doesn’t look like much does it? I will make a confession. I’d painted about 75 of these ships over the past 18 months and for the longest time at this stage, I ALWAYS doubted myself, sure I screwed things up. The real magic starts on the next step when we dry brush our second shade on.

But that will have to wait for the next post.

Note: I mentioned I’m letting this dry overnight. A few hours would suffice for the next step. As I mentioned before I like to paint these in assembly line fashion, so I generally just do the same step to three to five ships and then wait and do the next step a few days later during one of my breaks.

Just make sure the paint is thoroughly dry. Being watered down it could take a few hours.

Till next time.

Edit: BTW I glued in the wooden bow spirit before applying paint for this step.

Leave a Comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *