Dec 13, 2015

Le Superbe

On my quest to "field" ships in a 6mm battle, I had found this 1/500 scale model produced by Heller. It is a simplified version of their large scale 18th century ship of the line. It sadly comes with a moderately useful brush, some pots of useless acrylic paint and super (st)icky superglue, all in a big plastic box next to the kit, increasing the price. But a price of one ship would not hurt, am I right?

The hull is adequately detailed and easy to assemble. Of course I had to dismember it to create a waterline model. The plastic masts are not so bright and the injection mould sails are positively ugly and unnatural. But that can be fixed, resorting to the old method of broom bristle and paper soaked in PVA. Plus it helps a lot to have free space when rigging the old lady.

It was an early realization that I had to take different steps to complete this model. Luckily I've had some experience with scratchbuilt kits from before. So first I assembled everything minus rigging and primed it. Then I painted the deck and the masts. All the ropes between the masts followed while working on the basic colors of the hull. Then I have made the thicker parts of rigging from plastic broom bristles, priming then painting them. Then the masts and sails had to be touched up to remove black stains. 

The masts were painted with a single layer, brown wash and highlights. On the hull I used multiple layers. I started with blocking in the yellow parts, then a brown wash, then a highlight with buff, over that a yellow glaze, then a second wash and a buff highlight. The point is that yellow is tricky and requires a lot of attention.

The stern is always the most decorative part and Le Superbe is not an exception. I used bright colors and two layers of blue highlights on the windows.

When the hull was completely painted I moved on to the base, which is plasticard with some green stuff sculpted waves. I used a mix of dark green and blue, some wet highlights then drybrushing the waves, complete with two thick layers of glossy varnish.

She's still going to need some ropes about the sails, the English terminology for such things eludes me at this moment, but she was close to completion so I dared show some photos. The rest of the rigging will be applied after the ship's had a layer of matt varnish.
Working on these sorts of models is a relatively new fascination compared to painting figures, and when I'm not cursing like a good old sea pirate about messing up the rigging again* it is oddly relaxing.

* Sun Tzu says that for every minute spent building a model, nine minutes should be spent cursing loudly so your neighbors could learn about your fierceness and courage.


  1. Wonderful job!
    always follow sun tzu's wisdom!

  2. What a beautiful ship, great job!

  3. Very nice converted ship. Looks great crashing through the ocean waves.

  4. She came out quite nicely, Andras ! Good job with the rigging, just enough to create a realistic impression but not so much to bog you down with the build.

    1. Thank you. It will look more crowded after varnishing.

  5. Superbe indeed..!! Fine job, as usual I am amazed how you masterly work these tiny models! Cheers!