Black Seas, Resources

Painting Vessels from the Age of Sail

Black Seas painting guides and paint sets...

Painting Vessels from the Age of Sail
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In the Carronade Era, there wasn’t a clearly defined painting scheme consistently used by specific nations, but rather a fairly limited pallet of colours that could be used in various combinations by each Captain.

Captains of Unrated Vessels and most Frigates could paint their ships in a variety of colours like all white, all yellow ochre, all red, all black, or all dark blue-grey. But more commonly painted the hulls black and added a coloured stripe of varying thickness in yellow, red, pale orange, white, green, or occasionally light blue. Ships-of-the-line tended to have a more limited pallet, so here we present a few ways in which you could theme your fleet.

Royal Navy

The Royal Navy favoured black for their hulls with one, two or three stripes painted in yellow ochre (described as “baby puke yellow” at the time) which did not necessarily run along the lines of the gun ports. In the 1790s a new chequered scheme was introduced known as the “Nelson checker” which had the addition of painting the outer part of the gun ports black on the yellow stripes. The Masts could be varnished wood, yellow or white with black Tops, Bands and Yards.

Royal Navy Paint Set

Below is a list of the paint bundle’s contents, as well as a guide to its usage with Royal Navy vessels, as shown in the image.

  • Army Painter Black: Hull, masts, anchors and gun barrels
  • Vallejo 913 Yellow Ochre: Hull and masts
  • Army Painter Dragon Red:  Inner Hull
  • Army Painter Oak Brown: Deck, lifeboat inners, gun carriages
  • Vallejo 820 off-white: Keel, masts, lifeboats
  • Vallejo 310 (Panzer Aces) Old Wood: Deck details
British Ship

French Navy

French hulls were usually yellow or red, with black stripes, sometimes with blue details. We have used a light shade of yellow for our French and added an upper blue stripe on most of the ships to unify the look of the fleet. Masts were yellow with white, black or blue Tops, Bands and Yards.

French Navy Paint Set

Below is a list of the paint bundle’s contents, as well as a guide to its usage with French Navy vessels, as shown in the image.

  • Army Painter Black: Hull, masts, anchors and gun barrels
  • Vallejo 976 Buff: Hull and masts
  • Vallejo 963 Medium Blue: Inner Hull and side panelling
  • Army Painter Oak Brown: Deck, lifeboat inners, gun carriages
  • Vallejo 820 off-white: Keel, masts, lifeboats
  • Vallejo 310 (Panzer Aces) Old Wood: Deck details
French Ships

Spanish Navy

Spanish ships followed various different patterns similar to the French and the British. However, Spanish captains favoured a red or maroon hull with black stripes. They could also add some blue details, especially on the stern of the ships. Like the French, they could have white or yellow masts with white, black or blue Tops, Bands and Yards.

Spanish Navy Paint Set

Below is a list of the paint bundle’s contents, as well as a guide to its usage with Spanish Navy vessels, as shown in the image.

  • Army Painter Dragon Red: Hull and masts
  • 950 Matt black: Hull, masts, gun barrels and anchors
  • Army Painter Spaceship Exterior: Sails
  • Army Painter Leather Brown: Deck, keel and lifeboat inners.
  • 963 Medium Blue: Bow and stern
  • 820 Off White: Lifeboats, bow and stern detailing
  • Army Painter Brain Matter Beige: Deck details
  • 843 Cork Brown: Gun carriages
Spanish Ship

US Navy

During and immediately after the American War of independence the colours of US hulls would either be quite generic like wood or white with black stripes or would follow the British colours. Later on, they started adopting a black hull with white stripes, with black or white masts and wood, white or black Tops, Bands and Yards.

US Navy Paint Set

Below is a list of the paint bundle’s contents, as well as a guide to its usage with US Navy vessels, as shown in the image.

  • 950 Matt black: Hull, masts and anchors
  • 820 off-white: Hull, masts, lifeboats
  • 310 (Panzer Aces) Old Wood: Deck
  • 315 (Panzer Aces): Light Wood: Sails
  • 984 Flat Brown: Wooden deck elements and lifeboat inners
  • Army Painter Pure Red: Gun Carriages and gun ports
  • 924 Russian uniform WW2: Hull inners
US Ship

Other Details

The Inside Bulwarks were usually red, yellow, khaki green, blue, black, or wood and the Gun Carriages red, yellow or wood. The insides of the gun ports were red, yellow, black or wood. The decks were lighter ash or very light wood colour and the gratings, rails, and similar containers or openings on the upper deck were black, wood, red, maroon or a darker wood colour and usually were of one or two different shades on the same deck.

The Keel could be copper, white, black, red, blue, khaki green or wood.

The stern of the ships could be quite decorative and could be painted in either similar colours to the hull, or in a contrasting colour, with black, blue, red, white and yellow ochre being the most popular, but could also have the decorations painted in gold or painted realistically to what they represented.

The figureheads could also be painted to match what they represented or they could be white, gold, bronze or wood.

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Dan Hewitson
Dan can often be found contemplating the mound of unpainted minis building up under his desk. He has a tendency to roll lots of ones. He also has a tendency to complain about rolling lots of ones.