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Corsair Ship
Painting Guide
By Neldoreth
May 3rd, 2005
The Templates:

Print this out, scaling to fit the 8.5x11 inch page. Copy the printed page at 175% to get the proper size for you're ship templates. Download the corsair templates here.

Step One: Defining the Paint Scheme and the Paints

To be honest I really wanted to wait for the Return Of The King Extended Edition DVD to be released before I painted this ship. Actually I wanted to wait for the Extended Edition to be released before I built it as I knew it promised to have loads of images of the actual miniature used in the films. Of course, I couldn't wait. I actually finished painting prior to the release, but I did take the time to add some more details that I found through the Extended Edition. So my point is that everyone should study the images there prior to making their own... it might save you some remorse...

[Making Corsair Ship image]
There it is again, that oh so familiar picture of the Corsair Ship.

All I had to base the paint scheme on were the fleeting images from the film, but that was more than enough to get the basic idea: The spikes were all rusty metal, and the rest of the ship was rotting wood. The only exception were the light brown, rotting sails and the black rigging. With that in mind I set down to work.

I had a look at my paint collection and picked out the colours that matched the movie images as closely as possible. Of course, since I only have large amounts of brown, black, and white paints, I was forced to do some mixing. I had found long ago that little tubs of black, white, and brown seem to evaporate within days of their purchase... Everything (especially in the LOTR line) has some bit of black and brown. So I went out and pruchased one litre tubs of black, brown, and white acrylic paint. They did come in handy for this project.

I figured the fewer colours to mix the better. My idea was to mix the colour for the sails and then use that to hilight the rest of the ship. That required mixing copious ammounts of only one colour. So I set to work, I used my eye to match the colour, adding little bits of white and black (but mostly white) to the dark brown acrylic paint.

Other colours I used were red brown, aged metal, ivory, and forest green (all paints from IWM). All of these colours were strictly used for the metal. The aged metal was used to get the metal look, obviously. The red brown was used to rust out the metal; using brown wasn't going to work as the whole ship was brown and I wanted some distinction. The ivory and forest green were mixed to add the smallest highlights to the rust.

[Red Brown Paint from IWM]
That red brown paint, it has really seen me through a lot (my whole dwarf and haradrim armies to name a few).

So that is it for the paints. Now on to the painting action!

Step Two: The Most Important Part

There is very little to say here except that the black undercoat has to be done well. Everything needs to be completely covered in the black undercoat. There is a lot to paint on this ship, and as long as a good job is done on laying down the base coat of black, then the rest can go pretty quickly.

One tip I have is to lay down the base coat and then let it dry completely. Have a good look at it, find all the spots where the cardboard has shown through and cover them up. Repeat this a few times, this will assure that it is done well. After this it is a lot easier to be sloppy and quick with the rest of the paints.

Step Three: Painting The Wooden Ship

The first thing I did was a heavy dry brush of brown over the entire boat, carefully missing the parts that would be painted metal. This was pretty quickly accomplished even though there was a large area to cover.

[Corsair Boat]
Here you can see all the brown on the ship... Oh so much brown...

Once the dark brown was on, I used the lighter brown I had previously mixed as a hilight by drybrishing it over the entire ship. It turned out pretty well, and the sort of rotting greyish brown colour added that element to the ship, which was nice. Once that was complete the basic painting of the ship itself was done.

[Corsair Boat]
Here you can see the hilighting pretty well. It adds a rotted look.

I almost left it like this until I took a closer look at the ship in the movie. It reminded me that there seemed to be a lot of rotting wood. Although my drybrushing looked good, it didn't look nearly rotted enough. So I set out to fix that problem.

[Corsair Boat]
Have a look at the dripping rotteness along the gunwhales of the ship.

I grabbed some of the lighter paint that I had mixed and used as a hilight and added some yellow and a little more white. I then added water until the surface underneath the paint could be seen very clearly, about three or four parts water to one part paint. I then put a liberal amount of this on a smallish brush and put little dripping marks all over the side of the ship. This really added the rot that I was looking for.

[Corsair Boat]
I tried to do the dripping a bit longer and curved nearer to the prow of the ship to reflect the fact that most of the water would spend a lot of time there. This image also sets the stage for the painting of the metal bits.

Step Four: Painting The Metal Bits

To paint the metal bits I started with a liberal drybrush of aged metal. After I was done I thought it looked pretty good as it was, but I knew that adding the rust would make it that much better. I also noticed that I had managed to dry brush small parts of the wooden hull as well. I was lamenting the fact that I would have to touch up those areas when I got an idea. I would add rusty red brown over this area to emulate that dripping rust look!

[Corsair Boat]
Here you can clearly see all the metal bits.

I started adding the rust by watering down the red brown and applying it in a dripping sort of pattern; the rust should be drippy looking really. It is, afterall, produced by the splashing and subsequent dripping of salty ocean pater. I found that although this looked good, it was too difficult to see the red brown colour. So I put undiluted red brown paint highlights on the metal parts as well.

[Corsair Boat]
Notice the red brown, green, and metal.

After doing this I mixed the ivory and green to make that salty rust colour. I then watered this down a little bit and applied it in dripping strokes. Having learned my lesson from the red brown I made sure not to water it down too much. After all this I was pretty happy, but I had ended up covering up too much of the metal... So I grabbed a shining silver and added the smallest hilight to remind viewers that there was metal under all that rust somewhere.

[Corsair Boat]
This image, filled with metal, hints at the 'Adding Some More Detail' section below.

Step Five: Painting the Sails

The sails were fairly strait forward to paint. The paint that I had mixed earlier was ready and so I began to put it on. After doing a heavy drybrush over the sails I soon realized that I would have to do a complete coat; the dark brown, black, with light brown highlights just wasn't working.

So I set to work on doing a good solid cover of paint over the entire sails. I went pretty quickly with this, not worrying about getting paint on the masts and rigging. I realized later that this was a mistake, taking a bit of time to paint around the masts carefully would have saved me some time later on, and preserved my nice hilighting job...

[Corsair Boat]
Here you can clearly see the sails and the rigging. Also some detail on the deck of the ship.

Once the lighter coat was on I used some ivory for highlighting. I drybrushed the sails with a uniform amount of ivory. After looking at it again, I thought the ivory was too uniform. This prompted me to do blotches of heavier drybrushing in semi-random spots around the sails. This affect produced a sufficiently ragged looking sail, so I was pretty happy with it.

[Corsair Boat]
A close up of the sails and the rigging that holds them in place.

At this point I cleaned up the masts, making sure there were no unsightly light brown splotches. I decided to forgo re-highlighting to avoid marring the sails at all. I figured that hidden behind the sails it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Now it was time to do the rigging.

Trying to keep with the design in the movie I went with black, hilighted with a dark gray, and then a lighter gray. At this point I realized that I didn't like it. The rigging was almost invisible, and looked almost unpainted next to all of the lighter surfaces. This is when I decided to change the design. Don't get me wrong, I don't profess to have better ideas than those who made the ship for the movie, I just thought this ship would look better with light rigging. Also I couldn't stand seeing all the work I had done sewing the sails into place dissappear under a coat of black paint... So I set to it, brown undercoat hilighted heavily with ivory. Once it was done I was happy.

[Corsair Boat]
Nice sail image here. Also a rusty point at the top of the mast.

At this point the ship was completely done as it had been built... But then I got a copy of Return of the King: Extended Edition and took some time to peruse the pictures of the miniature that was built for the movie. This prompted me to add some more detail... Will this ship project ever end?

Step Six: Adding Some Details

So now it was time to look at the stills of the miniature from the Extended Edition. I was quite nervous to be honest; you know when you just finished your multiple choice test in elementary school and you trade it with your friend to mark it in class? Looking at the stills of the miniature were similar to the moment when the test was handed back and it was time to face the music...

And so I looked. The first thing I noticed was that my ship had no oar holes... I kinda knew that they should be there, but never bothered to put them in. At that moment I planned to put them in immedietely... But when it came to doing it I decided not to; after messing around with those Gondorian longships I knew very well how much trouble oars could be... And to be honest I didn't think it took away from the miniature too much not having them... But I do plan to add them in the future when I have the urge to work on the ship again (famous last words).

[Corsair Boat]
Here you can see both the oar holes and the metal siding of the ship.

The second thing I noticed was that the outside of the gunwhales were actually covered in metal plating. At this point it was a little too late to add the plating, as I had already added the rigging spikes along the side of the ship; I would have to remove them to add the metal plating and it would be too much extra work... So I resigned to having a metal gunwhale free ship.

The other things I noticed were the extra spikey bits that adorned the side and rear of the ship. I was actually quite pleased to see these things, as I thought the ship was missing a little something; it could really use some pizazz. To be honest I had noticed some of these things on the movie images, but the details were so ppor that I couldn't really figure out what I was looking at... But now with the close up miniature images, I was set. Studying the spikey metal additions to the raised rear deck, along with the oar shearing implement near the front, I set to work on making them.

[Corsair Boat]
Here is a good view of the extra metal bits on the stern.

The first things I worked on were the extra spikes on the elevated stern section of the ship. I wasn't entirely happy with what I had there in the first place, so these extra bits really appeased my annoyance with my previous work. I had a look at the images and then grabbed 1.5mm cardboard and sketched the shapes onto it. Once I was happy I cut them out, and then used them as templates to cut out a copy of each for both sides of the ship.

[Corsair Boat]
Here are my added spikey bits; I am quite happy with the way they turned out.

I then painted these in the same way I painted the metal on the rest of the ship. Once the painting was all done and dried, I simply used some white (PVA) glue to fix them into the appropriate positions. I was quite happy with the result.

[Corsair Boat]
Here are more of the stern spikey bits I added; I am quite happy with the way they turned out.

Having successfully added the rear metal details I moved on to the oar shearing implement. This is the part that I had noticed from the movie images, but I couldn't figure out what it was; was it a piece of metal or some flapping canvas? I couldn't really figure out why it would be there in the first place, so I just decided to forget it. But now that I had a good look at it, I wanted it. It even inspired me to come up with some oar shearing additions to the ship rules...

[Corsair Boat]
Cool image of the oar shearing implements, as well as the entire front of the ship, from the ROTK:EE miniature.

Again I sketched the shape onto some 1.5mm cardboard, and I cut out a second one. I realized though that I couldn't just glue this to the side of the ship as it must be sticking out a bit to reach the oars of the enemy vessel as it sped by. So I cut a small pice of balsa, one side flat and one side angled. I painted it, along with the oar shearing implement and stuck the flat side against the ship with some white glue. After that dried I glued the oar shearer to it, giving it a nice angled look.

[Corsair Boat]
Here is the oar shearing implement that I added. I think it worked out pretty well.

As the last addition to the ship I considered adding a door leading to the hold... The door image from the Extended Edition movie was just beautiful, and I really wanted something to spice up the deck, as it was pretty plain. The problem was that I had crafted the stairs on the raised area without considering a door, and so I wouldn't be able to center it properly. Furthermore it was going to be a lot of work; getting it to fit properly at this stage, painting it properly without ruining the rest of the paint job... So I decided to forget it until I had the urge to work on the ship again...

[Corsair Boat]
The wonderful door to the hold of the ship... Maybe some day.

Finally I needed some bolt throwers. The ones in the movie were cool, and adding them to the deck would really a) add to the look of the ship and b) increase the ship's firepower. The convenient thing was that there were already rules for a bolt thrower; the orc bolt thrower rules would work perfectly...

Building it was not too difficult. I sketched the basic shape onto a piece of cardboard. Once I was happy with it I cut it out, making a template for these sort of things allow you to make a couple of them without too much trouble and also allows you to make more in the future if you need to (if I make another ship, it will need some bolt throwers of its own). I then sketched and cut out some thin cardboard for the metal bits, including the actual bow part of the bolt thrower. I just eyed these ones and didn't bother making a template.

I glued it all together piece by piece, starting with the base, moving on to the main bolt thrower part, and then finally glueing the bolt thrower to the base. Once the glue was dry I added the string. I used black thread to wrap around the metal bits and act as the rope that would launch the bolts; it turned out really well. I used white glue to fix it all in place; white glue is the best as it dries clear. Once all the glue was dry I painted it in the same fashion as the rest of the ship... And the project was finally done... Until I decide to add more detail :)

[Corsair Boat]
The bolt throwers in all their completed glory. Chec out images above and below to see them on the deck of the ship.

Here are some more pictures... Even sneak peaks of next months battle report.

[Corsair Boat]

[Corsair Boat]

[Corsair Boat]

[Corsair Boat]
Looks like the Gondorians are being outmaneuvered....