How to paint our ships?

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Painting ships in a 1: 1200 scale is very quick and fun. We guarantee that you can paint a large fleet in a very short time, which will allow you to start the games in Gods of War: Togo.

A very interesting challenge is also the proper preparation of the bases, fortunately various producers offer different and easy to use water effects. In the following, we have included instructions on how to create such bases.

We use Vallejo paints for the description, which you can buy, among others. here: and GW contrast colors.
All the effects used in the description of making the bases are also available in Bolter.

You can easily find tutorials on the Internet converting Vallejo colors to those from other manufacturers.

Remember to cover your model with a protective layer of matt varnish after painting.

We have divided the guide into epochs.

4th Era – ironclads

This era was very chaotic in terms of ship development, as well as painting.

In general, black was the most common color. After the Napoleonic Wars, the black color began to dominate among the sailing fleets, separated by a white belt at the level of the embrasures.

Ironclads often inherited this way of painting, but there were also other patterns – various shades of gray. Unfortunately, the variety of painting makes it impossible to create a uniform guide for painting ships from this era, because there will be too many exceptions. However, if we are wondering what color to use, or we cannot find the sources, the safest thing to do is to use Vallejo 862 Black Gray for sides (or Black Templar Contrast, you can put over it a Vallejo Trash Metal SC 64 for a more metallic look), weapons or superstructures and Vallejo 034 Bonewhite on board (if there is, for example, Monitor or Virginia do not have a typical deck). Vallejo 864 Natural Steel can also be used instead of black and gray.

Our experience shows the best and quickest results with Black Templar Constrast paint and a thin layer of Vallejo Trash Metal (or without the latter if we want just a black look).

Monitor and Virginia. Strong light distorts Virginia’s steel gray side.

6th Era – predrednoughts


In many fleets there were two colors: peace and war. Some fleets, however, used one color – the same for war and peace. At the end of the 19th century, the dominant color was black and bright colors (e.g. white or yellow ochre) when it came to painting superstructures, artillery towers, boats or chimneys – it was a legacy of the black colors of the era of armored ships. In turn, the peace color was dominated by white (and other colors of superstructures). Gradually, at the turn of the century, successive fleets began to introduce various shades of gray as their war paint. By the end of 1905, this process had not yet reached all fleets.

Some fleets, such as the Spanish ones, did not use special war paints.

As Togo is a naval wargame, so below are the paint schemes for different fleets in the war paint scheme.

Click to enlarge.

Deck – the base is Vallejo 034 Bonewhite. After painting the deck, it is worth “staining” with Seraphim sepia, and then run over again with a Vallejo 034 Bohewhite dry brush. It will gain depth and look better.

Funnels – depends on the fleet. Often they will be yellow ochre, then it is worth covering them with shade Casandora Yellow. With gray funnels, you can use, for example, a diluted (50/50) contrast Basilicanum Gray – as a shade.

On the ship’s sides, so that they are not so “flat”, it is also worth putting a wash (as long as you do not use contrasts paints), eg Nuln Oil or Vallejo Black Wash, and then use a dry brush in the original color again. Exposed to constant salt water, the ships did not look like clean models in a display case 😉

For those who want to improve the appearance of their ships, we recommend using Green Stuff World Rust 2288 (Medium Rust) and 2287 (Light Rust), because rust appeared on the sides very quickly.

Armada Española

Black hulls, white superstructures, partially white or yellow ocher gun turrets, yellow ocher masts and funnels.

Some of the smaller units serving in the colonies had white hulls, the rest of the colors as described above.

Pelayo battleship.
Alfonso XII cruiser.

Nippon Kaigun

The Japanese quickly began to use gray war colors. The entire hull will therefore be gray (neutral grey), the deck bonewhite, often the tip of the funnels will also be black. Some ships could have black cannon barrels, with larger caliber cannons.

The gray hull should be treated with diluted (50/50) Basilicanum Gray contrast as a replacement for the wash.

Battleship Mikasa painted by Von Koenigs Paints. The Japanese gray color, with which the ships were painted, was a bit darker than, for example, the American one, so the best choice is Vallejo 992 Neutral gray. Mikasa presented in the picture is a bit too bright BUT you have to remember that salt water can be merciless on ships painting 🙂
Cruiser Izumo, typical painting for a Japanese ship. Vallejo Neutral Gray and then diluted 50/50 GW Basilicanum Gray.

Rossiyskiy Imperatorskiy Flot

The Russian fleet at that time had two types of war paint: for the Baltic Fleet and for the Port arthur squadron.

Port Arthur squadron livery. Its true color is always a challenge due to the problem with the sources, as well as with assessing what shade the mixtures of colors of the time gave. The photo of Varyag below shows the variant using Vallejo Olive Green paint. Despite the strong use of dark washes, the effect is not entirely satisfactory, the models seem too bright.
Therefore, a better idea would be to use Vallejo 70.887 US Olive Drab (also called Brown Violet), as you can see in the next photo of the battleship Peresvet. Athonian Camoshade from GW should be applied over this color.

Wariag cruiser in the painting of the Port Artur squadron. Unfortunately, the sources are contradictory – it is not known exactly what shade of green the squadron ships had. We used Vallejo Olive Green, then nuln oil wash, but khaki or Vallejo Brown Violet (70.887) may be more appropriate.
And here is battleship Peresvet painted with Vallejo US Olive Drab (formerly Brown Violet), with GW Athonian Camoshade applied.

The Russian Baltic Fleet had a completely different war paint – black hulls and all other components, except for the funnels, which were painted yellow ochre (top 20% black). So here it is best to use the Black Templar contrast with GW, or Vallejo 862 Black Gray (and then a slightly lighter dry brush).

Coastal defense battleship Admiral Ushakov. The sides of Vallejo 862 Black Grey but a very good, even better solution is the Black Templar contrast from GW. The chimneys are Vallejo 913 Yellow Ochre, the top 20% are black. The deck is Vallejo 034 Bonewhite, wash Seraphim Sepia and dry brush – Bonewhite again.
Korietz started the war in peace colors – hence the painting in white. Its sister ship Manchur, which also served in the Far East, will have the painting of the Port Arthur squadron.

United States Navy

The American fleet had one war paint scheme at that time – ships were painted gray (that’s how they were painted just before the outbreak of war in 1898). It was clearly a lighter gray than the Japanese, so we recommend Vallejo 870 Medium Sea Gray.

Armored cruiser Brooklyn, sides and superstructures are Vallejo 870 Medium Sea Gray. The deck is Bonewhite, Seraphim Sepia and bonewhite dry brush. Rust effect applied to the sides: Green Stuff World 2288 Medium Rust and 2287 Light Rust.
Brooklyn from another perspective.

Bases and water

Ships in GoW: Togo we have to put on bases. It is best if they represent water (although some people like transparent plexiglass bases).

Our own HDF bases must first be painted with Vallejo 899 Dark Prussian Blue or a similar dark blue color. After sticking the ship model, we apply Mig Acrylic Water Deep Oceans A. MIG-2200 (you may use similar product from Vallejo or other company). The color of the base will affect the color of the water.

The specimen will be gray first. After applying it, spread it over the entire base (Be careful not to stain the sides, although you will cover a part of them anyway, in the end the water waves) to get the effect of rippling water. Then we leave it to dry (24h), during which it will turn navy blue.

After the water at the beak has dried, apply Green Stuff World 1285 Splash Gel Water Effect to obtain the effect of “cutting” the water through the beak. The further away from the beak, the lower the effect (generally up to 1 cm in length). The gel is easy to form, so it is worth “cutting” it so that it resembles waves departing from each side. Then we have to wait for it to dry.

Since the gel is transparent, after it dries along the sides and on the dried gel, paint the foam using Vallejo Water Texture Foam Effect 231. Behind the ship and obliquely from the bow, paint a wake. This is best done with the dry brush technique.

Foam along the sides and a wake. It is also worth folding the curves with a little splash gel.
After the splash gel dries, use Vallejo Water Texture Foam Effect 231. Paint a thin, white line along the sides, and paint the curves and a wake behind the stern with a dry brush.

A wake. First, I applied splash gel there to make the water more wavy, and after it dried, I used a dry brush with Vallejo foam effect.
Infanta Maria Teresa-class cruiser after the gel dries – before painting it with a dry brush. As you can see the gel has become transparent.
A wake (from Wikipedia – public domain)
Modern U.S. warships with a wake.
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ron Reeves (RELEASED)
The waves go sideways creating a “chevron” having a standard angle of 39 degrees, but this can vary depending on the speed of the sailing ship.

We hope that the guide will allow you to paint amazing ships that will win many rivers, seas and oceans, but above all, will let you feel like a real sea wolf and enjoy a good game.

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