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

GM_Forge LOGO art2

So know we’re ready for our third shade of paint. Again we will be dry brushing and THIS time a little will go a long way. You can take this one too far very easily so the trick is remember “less is more”. And if you screw up (I have often times on this step) don’t panic. Just go back to the previous step and dry brush some of shade 2 per the ship and darken things up a bit.

Now the color for this shade is a very light tan. Americana’s “Coffee” works well right out of the bottle but I sometimes use Craftsman’s “Pebble” or Folkart’s “linen”. Or, in a pinch, just add a touch of brown to some flat white paint and mix it. You basically want a very light shade of brown that’s gong to draw out all the high details and grain (including the edges of any raised rails).

I dip my dry brush in the paint and then stroke it across a piece of cardboard until hardly any paint is being laid down. This is what you want – just enough paint so that only a hint is left when you lightly run it across the surface. When applying this shade just hold the piece at arm’s length now and then. If you feel an area needs lightened up, hit it again with more pressure. Sometimes rubbing the paint away with your finger can add some interesting highlights.

Here’s the end result.


Now I will tell you, if you compare this to photos from the last step you find it’s very subtle. And that’s what you want, although admittedly photos don’t do justice to all the subtle highlights and contrasts. Here’s some more pics.




Now we could stop here, paint all the little details (patches, door hinges and iron banding, etc) but there’s one more shade I’ve recent added to the mix that I think is a nice touch.

I take some Folk Art “Cinnamon” and do one more very light dry brushing – most across the deck surfaces and lightly over the entire surface. It adds a subtle touch of color back that makes things pop a bit more.

Here’s the ship with that fourth color.


Again, very subtle and my photos may or may not show it. But to my eye it looks better and is now part of my process for painting all my ships/docks.







So that’s it. Maybe not the best way but it’s the way I do it. And of course this process will work on any wooden piece. I use the same process on my docks and smaller boats.

That’s it for now. Next time I’ll highlight how I paint the smaller details on the ship and then how I rig them up with masts and sails.


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