Painting Guide for Ships

Introduction

Painting ships in 1:1200 scale is a quick and enjoyable process. We guarantee that you can paint a sizeable fleet in an incredibly short time, enabling you to start playing Gods of War: Togo promptly.

Preparing the bases for your ships is also an exciting challenge. Fortunately, various manufacturers offer a range of products that allow for stunning water effects. Below, we have included instructions on how to create such bases.

We use Vallejo paints in our descriptions, which you can purchase here, along with contrast paints from GW. Bolter also stocks all the effects used in the base-making descriptions.

You can easily find guides online to convert Vallejo colors to those of other manufacturers.

Remember to coat your model with a protective layer of matte varnish after painting.

We have divided the guide into different eras.

Era IV – Ironclads

This era was very chaotic in terms of ship development, and this extended to their paint schemes.

Generally, black was the dominant colour. After the Napoleonic wars, black became prevalent among sailing fleets, often interrupted by a white stripe (or stripes) where the gun ports were located. Ironclads often inherited this painting style, but there were also other patterns—various shades of grey. Unfortunately, this variety makes it impossible to create a uniform guide for painting ships from this era, as there would be too many exceptions. If you are unsure about which color to use or cannot find sources, the safest option is to use Vallejo 862 Black Grey for the hulls, weapons, or superstructures (or GW Contrast Black Templar). You can then apply Vallejo Trash Metal SC 64 to achieve a more metallic appearance. For the deck (if present, since ships like the Monitor or Virginia do not have a typical deck), use Vallejo 034 Bonewhite. Instead of black-grey, you can also use Vallejo 864 Natural Steel (or GW Contrast Basilicanum Grey, though this will result in a very grey rather than steel-black appearance).

Example Paint Scheme for CSS Virginia and USS Monitor
The intense light distorts the colour of Virginia’s hull, which is steel-grey.

Era VI – Pre-dreadnoughts

Models

In many navies, there were two paint schemes: peacetime and wartime. However, some navies used a single color scheme for both war and peace. By the late 19th century, black and light colors (e.g., white or yellow ochre) dominated the paint schemes for superstructures, artillery towers, boats, and funnels. This was a holdover from the black colors of the ironclad era. In peacetime schemes, white was the dominant color, along with other colors for superstructures. Gradually, at the turn of the century, various navies began adopting different shades of grey as their wartime colors. By the end of 1905, this process had not yet encompassed all navies.

Some navies, such as the Spanish navy, did not use special wartime colors. Since Togo is a game about naval battles, we provide below the paint schemes for various navies in their wartime versions.

Deck – the base color is Vallejo 034 Bonewhite. After painting, it’s good to “dirty up” with Seraphim Sepia shade, then go over again with a dry brush of Vallejo 034 Bonewhite. This will add depth.

Funnel – the color depends on the fleet. Often they will be in yellow ochre, in which case it’s worth covering them with Casandora Yellow shade. For grey funnels, you can use a diluted (50/50) Basilicanum Grey – as a shade.

On the hulls, to avoid them looking too flat, it’s also worth applying a wash (if not using contrasts), such as Nuln Oil or Vallejo Black Wash, and then again using a dry brush in the original color. Ships exposed to constant saltwater didn’t look like clean models in a display case 😉

For those looking to further enhance the appearance of their units, we recommend using Green Stuff World Rust 2288 (Medium Rust) and 2287 (Light Rust), as rust appeared very quickly on the hulls.

We warmly recommend several threads on the Polish Forum Strategie concerning the painting of various ships, including entries in the modeling contest forum (you can use auto translate). Some of them have additional elements made by professional modelers – they are of course not necessary, especially if you are starting your adventure with painting ships. However, we admire anyone who can do such things.

To start, it’s worth checking out the one about painting the cruiser Brooklyn. It shows very well how to paint ships in this scale – from applying the base coat to finishing the base.

https://www.strategie.net.pl/viewtopic.php?f=231&t=19534&hilit=Brooklyn

Battleship Indiana, in very interesting peacetime colors:

https://www.strategie.net.pl/viewtopic.php?f=231&t=21143

Another (fantastic!) paint scheme for the armoured cruiser Brooklyn:

https://www.strategie.net.pl/viewtopic.php?f=231&t=21071

Borodino battleship:

https://www.strategie.net.pl/viewtopic.php?f=231&t=21147

Russian fleet:

https://www.strategie.net.pl/viewtopic.php?f=231&t=21100

Yet another example paint scheme for the Russian fleet:

https://www.strategie.net.pl/viewtopic.php?f=231&t=21055

Armada Española

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

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

Pelayo battleship.
Alfonso XII cruiser.
Armoured cruiser Cristobal Colon. Distinct black hull. White superstructures, with funnels and masts in ochre color.
Armoured cruiser Infanta Maria Teresa displays typical Spanish painting from that period. It features black hulls, white superstructures including the bases of the main gun turrets. The funnels, main artillery turret, and masts are in ochre color. The exception is the superstructures, which were most likely brown (wood color).
Velasco cruiser in colonial paint scheme – meaning all white. Many Spanish (and others) ships were painted this way during service in warm seas. Superstructures notably brown, funnel in ochre color.

Nippon Kaigun

The Japanese quickly began using grey for wartime colors. Therefore, the entire hull will be neutral grey (neutral grey), with a bonewhite deck. Often, the tops of the funnels will also be black. Some ships may have black gun barrels, especially for larger caliber guns.

For the grey hull, it’s worth using a diluted (50/50) Basilicanum Grey contrast as a substitute for wash.

Mikasa battleship painted by Von Koenigs Paints. The Japanese grey color used on ships was slightly darker than, for example, the American shade, hence the best choice is Vallejo 992 Neutral Grey. The Mikasa shown in the photo is a bit too light, BUT one must remember that saltwater can be merciless to ship paint 🙂
Izumo armoured cruiser, typical painting for a Japanese ship. Vallejo Neutral Grey followed by a diluted 50/50 mix of GW Basilicanum Grey.
Shikishima battleship in peacetime colors: white hull, brown superstructure, funnels and masts in ochre color.
Armoured cruiser Nisshin in wartime colors: entirely grey, with only the top part of the funnel in black.
Harusame type destroyer in wartime colors – painted in grey.

Rossijskij Imperatorskij Flot

The Russian fleet at that time had two types of wartime colors: one for the Baltic Fleet and another for the Port Arthur Squadron.

Painting of the Port Arthur Squadron posed a challenge due to uncertainties in historical sources and the difficulty in determining the exact shades used at that time. The photo of the Varyag below shows a variant using Vallejo Olive Green paint. Despite heavy use of dark washes, the result is not entirely satisfying as the models appear too bright.

Therefore, a better approach would be to use Vallejo 70.887 US Olive Drab (also known as Brown Violet), as seen in the next photo depicting the battleship Peresvet. After applying this color, it should be shaded with Athonian Camoshade from Games Workshop (GW).

Varyag cruiser in the Port Arthur Squadron paint scheme. Unfortunately, historical sources are conflicting, and the exact shade of green used on these ships remains uncertain. Torgill used Vallejo Olive Green for painting this ship, darkened with a wash, but a more appropriate choice might be Vallejo Brown Violet (70.887) or khaki.
And here is the battleship Peresvet painted with Vallejo US Olive Drab (formerly known as Brown Violet), with GW Athonian Camoshade applied as a shade.

The Baltic Fleet of the Russian Navy had completely different wartime colors: black hulls and all other elements, except for the funnels (top 20% painted black), were painted in yellow ochre. Therefore, the best choice here would be to use GW Black Templar contrast paint, or Vallejo 862 Black Grey (followed by a lighter dry brush).

Coastal defense battleship Admiral Ushakov. Hull painted with Vallejo 862 Black Grey, but an even better solution is using GW Black Templar contrast paint. Funnels are Vallejo 913 Yellow Ochre, with the top 20% painted black. Deck is Vallejo 034 Bonewhite, washed with Seraphim Sepia, and then dry brushed with Bonewhite again.
Korietz gunbout started the war in peacetime colors, hence painted white. Her sister ship, the Mandzhur, which also served in the Far East, will have the Port Arthur Squadron paint scheme.
Battleship Borodino in the Baltic Fleet paint scheme: black hull, funnels in ochre color, with the upper part of the funnels painted black.
Another variant of the Baltic Fleet paint scheme: white main gun turrets and superstructures. Funnels in ochre color with black tips.
Torpedo boat 142, Baltic Fleet paint scheme: entirely black. Analogously, for the Port Arthur Squadron, it would be entirely green.
Varyag protected cruiser in peacetime colors: white hull with funnels in ochre color (upper part, with black above the narrowing).
Gunboat Korietz, colonial colors. It fought in such a paint scheme at the Battle of Chemulpo.

Royal Navy

In the era of interest, the British Royal Navy used two primary paint schemes. Starting from the first armored ships like HMS Warrior, the British painted their hulls black. Later pre-dreadnoughts and other classes retained this paint scheme. For simplicity, we refer to this as the “Victorian” paint scheme, although it’s not entirely precise. In this scheme, the hull was painted black, sometimes with an additional white stripe (see photos below), superstructures, armament, and boats in white (upper part of boats in brown), and funnels in ochre color.

Around 1903, the British began implementing a new paint scheme on their vessels aimed at reducing visibility at sea. They started painting entire ships grey (except for the upper parts of boats). For simplicity, we refer to this as the wartime paint scheme (Vallejo 991 Dark Sea Grey).

Some cruisers or gunboats that served in tropical waters were painted entirely white (or with ochre funnels). For simplicity, we refer to this as the colonial paint scheme.

Therefore, players will have a choice between two, and for smaller vessels, even three, paint schemes!

HMS Niobe, a Diadem-class cruiser. The photo clearly shows the distinctive white band running high along the hull. However, not all ships of this type had such a band.
HMS Minerva, an Eclipse-class cruiser, displays a different variant of the Victorian-era paint scheme. In addition to the white band, the upper part of the bow (raised portion) of the hull is also painted white.
HMS Forte, an Astraea-class cruiser, in colonial paint scheme – hull painted white.
Battleship HMS Britannia, King George VII class, in wartime paint scheme (introduced from 1903 onwards).

United States Navy

Flota amerykańska miała jeden schemat malowania wojennego w owym okresie – okręty malowano na szaro (tak pomalowano je zaraz przez wybuchem wojny w 1898 roku). To był wyraźnie jaśniejszy szary, niż u Japończyków, zatem rekomendujemy Vallejo 870 Medium Sea Grey.

Armoured cruiser Brooklyn, hull and superstructures in Vallejo 870 Medium Sea Grey. Deck in Bonewhite, washed with Seraphim Sepia, and dry brushed with Bonewhite again. Rust effect applied on hulls: Green Stuff World 2288 Medium Rust and 2287 Light Rust.
Armoured cruiser Brooklyn from a different perspective.
USS Brooklyn in peacetime colors: white hull, funnels, and superstructures in ochre color.
Armed yacht Vixen in wartime colors – painted grey.
Armed yacht Gloucester also in wartime colors – painted grey. It fought in such colors in 1898.

Bases and water

Ships in Gods of War: Togo need to be placed on bases. It’s best if they represent water (though some prefer transparent acrylic bases).

Tutorials on how to make such bases can be found on our YouTube channel.

We also recommend a great comparison made by Paweł Reszka in the Facebook group regarding different shades of water:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/615266705289069/posts/2514953255320395/

Achieving water effects using the colors indicated in the image and Vallejo 26.202 Mediterranean Blue.

Another comparission by Pawel:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/615266705289069/posts/2651984214950631/

Creating water effects using the colors indicated in the picture and Mig Acrylic Water Deep Oceans A.MIG-2200, among others.

Our HDF bases should first be painted with 899 Dark Prussian Blue or a similar dark blue color (e.g., Kantor Blue from GW). The base color will affect the water color. After attaching the ship model, apply Mig Acrylic Water Deep Oceans A.MIG-2200 or a similar product from Vallejo.

The product will initially have a grey color. Spread it evenly over the entire base. Be careful not to stain the ship’s hull, although some parts will naturally be obscured by waves. Allow it to dry (24 hours), during which time it will change color to navy blue.

Source: the manufacturer’s website.

After the water has dried near the bow, apply Green Stuff World 1285 Splash Gel Water Effect to create the effect of the water being parted by the bow. As you move farther from the bow, the effect should gradually diminish (typically up to 1 cm in length). Use the same product to create the wake behind the ship. The gel is easy to shape, so use a toothpick to create waves resembling those formed by each side of the hull. Allow it to dry and harden (another 24 hours).

Since the gel is transparent, after it has dried along the hull and on the hardened gel, paint foam using Vallejo Water Texture Foam Effect 231. Paint the wake behind the ship and diagonally from the bow using a dry brushing technique.

After the Splash Gel has dried, use Vallejo Water Texture Foam Effect 231. Paint a thin white line along the hull, and use a dry brushing technique to paint the wakes and the wake behind the stern diagonally.
The wake behind the stern. First, I applied Splash Gel there to create more waves in the water, and after it dried, I used a dry brush with Vallejo Foam Effect.
Cruiser of the Infanta Maria Teresa type after the gel has dried – before dry brushing it. As you can see, the gel has become transparent.
Wake pattern diagram (Wikipedia – public domain)

We hope this guide enables you to paint magnificent vessels that will achieve many victories on rivers, seas, and oceans, but above all, make you feel like a true sea wolf and enjoy a great game.

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