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  • Building and painting the HMS Sovereign

    I've chosen the Langton Miniatures ships and I've selected the 1st rate HMS Royal Sovereign as the example. I'll be naturally stating with assembly followed painting, rigging, base work and finally transport / storage.

    This is the contents of a Langton British starter set. They normally sell them as separate parts, you pick the hull, sail set then resin base and rat lines. The set has 4 hulls with "easy"sail sets, photo etch rat lines, bases and a ensign set.

    These are the tools needed to assemble them. A Xacto knife, small needle files, super glue and a pin vice with a assortment of bits. The small stack to the left are tiny rare earth magnets.


    Using the knife and files clean the small amount of flash and mold lines. I start with the hull and stern peice saving the sails for later. After cleaning the cast I wash them in warm water with a small amount of dish soap.

    Hull and Stern

    After drying I drill out the three mast and Bowsprit points. They are already there but rather shallow and small for a good fit.

    Next I mount the Hull to the resin base. Note Ive reconsidered this step and will in future mount the Hull temporally to a Popsicle stick for easier painting. For the base I drill 3 1/8 holes to receive the magnets.

    While it may be possible to carefully drill and recces the magnets the final base work will cover them so I drill through and

    Insert them and setting them to the bottom of the base and gluing in place.

    Next glue the Hull to the base and set aside. Now its time to get the sail set out. This is a 3 deck Easy sail set with the Mizzen, Main, Fore masts and Bowsprit.

    I've chosen the white metal set as the Photo etch may be a bit fiddly for gaming!

    Next I drill out all of the holes needed for rigging. This is .20 bit.

    I drill just above the fighting tops of each mast and the Bowsprit just under the jib sail.

    Next I drill out the Hull. For the masts drill a hole at the rear of each channel (ledges along the hull where the ratlines attach) that's 6. Then 1 just bellow the Figurehead at the bow. The final ones are in the cathead's if possible or through the bulkhead's just behind them if not.

    That's it with Hull now its time for the sails.


    I use small blocks of wood hold the masts for painting. You'll want to lay them out as they will be assembled to prevent any mistakes. The Mizzen is easy to figure out but the Main and Fore masts are very similar. After that's done I use a needle file to put a small grove in each sail set this helps the gluing.

    This done insert the Bowsprit and attach its yard. Then attach the sails and yards to the masts. You should angle the Sail/yard pieces slightly to the right side.
    Every thing ready for priming.

    Painting the Hull

    I've used Rust-olium auto primer for some time now, it has a very fine coat, forgiving the times I lay on to much. It also shrinks up nicely. The light gray is a good compromise between black that obscures details and white that can be hard to cover.

    Guides: I've used these as well as bad ole internet. The Langton booklet is a great resource, I highly recommend it to any interested ship builders. Age of Sail is also very useful.

    Tools: While I prefer the Windsor Newton Series 7 miniature brushes I'm by no means a brush snob. Most brushes if well cared for will give good service all of my utility brushes are craft shop sets. I use a #2 for large areas a #1 for the 1st go through and a 00 or 000 for clean up and detail work.
    About cleaning the water well is for quick cleaning or wetting the brush and the jar with the coil has a good brush cleaner for use between colors and final clean up. You will note the 2 desk lamps in the photo, what you don't see are the 4 fixtures above the desk 2 florescent tube and 2 40w = 100w spirals. I like lots of light and I'm always surprised how much better things look after I clean my glasses!

    One of my favorite tools. This hand vise has been great help you not only need a steady brush you also need a steady mini!

    Paints: Mostly Vallejo Game and Model colors. I've found the Coat d"arms cover very well and use their black & white. Then its a mix of GW, P3 and whatever else catches my eye. I will list what's been used for this ship as we go along.

    First up the Hull

    I prime white the side that is to be painted yellow.

    Now the spaces between the Wales with the closed gun ports get a coat of Vallejo Gold Yellow. A note here don't get to hung up on the colors this is the late 1700's early 1800's paint is going to be very inconsistent. Not only in shade but supply, also some of these ships had very long carers at times with multiple navy's!

    Next is the tricky part. Take your time and keep er steady, small brush (0 or 00) a little paint and small sections at a time. Trying to do a entire Wale from stem to stern in one go is tough. Keep it simple. I've painted the Bowsprit as well as it and the Masts are to be the same color.

    That's it for the Hull sides. Up next is the Bulkheads and Decks. I start with the inner Bulkheads. For the RS its P3 Sckorne Red but any dark red will do. Then the Deck for this its Bone white. The Hammock netting is white and will get a wash later.

    The gun carriages are Vallejo Scrofulous brown as are the other Deck rails, stairs and grates. The guns are black with a dark gray highlight.

    As you can see in these photos I've also primed the Stern and Head rails.

    Now the Stern galleys again primed white for the yellow and a dark blue for the windows.

    The Bow.

    With this done I next put down a light brown wash on the deck and a light black on the Hammock netting.


    Painting the Masts and Sails.

    I start with a Vallejo Bone White base painting the sail first.

    Next its a white dry brush.

    After that I pick out the Buntline and Reef point lines with Ocher Green. I use this on the tie off points on the yards as well.

    If you've the time and patience you could add patches and seams adds a nice touch.

    Ok on to the masts. For the Royal Sovereign I've painted the lower and mid section Gold Yellow.

    The top section and yards are Vallejo Scrofulous brown to simulate varnished wood. The Fighting tops are black.

    With that done I seal the hull and sails with this, works as well as dull coat at a lower cost.

    Setting the sails to the Hull. With a small amount of super glue (to much will squirt out on to your nice clean deck). The foremast should be canted slightly forward. The mainmast and mizzenmast slightly abaft. Don't worry about how they drop in initially after the glue sets you can go back and carefully bend the into position. Also take a look forward from the stern getting the tops lined up.

    Scale check


    Its not that difficult honest. Like anything else with the right tools and patience it can be done. Your ship will look unfinished without it.

    The stand is some scrap lumber with a clamp and a hole for my hand vice. The stand helps in two ways first it raises the ship to eye level, second it allow you to spin the ship with ease for rigging from port to starboard.

    The other items are a xacto with a fresh blades to cut thread ends. Two tweezers to tie the smaller knots ( you might notice that I've one squeeze to grip type and a squeeze to release type, my brain had a real hard time with this! ). Super glue to set the knots with tooth picks to apply it. And naturally the thread I have a single strand polyester and a .8mm (.003") thread. The polyester looks better as its closer to scale but its very fiddly with a natural spring to it. The .8mm thread is what I'll be using this time.

    Remember the holes I drilled during the assembly stage? This is why. What I'll be doing here is the Standing rigging these are the lines that hold the masts in place as apposed to the Running rigging that is used to work the sails. The Standing Rigging will keep you mini's masts in place fore and aft, larboard to starboard imagine that : ) Staring with the Foremast tie one end off on the Channel or Bulkhead depending on where drilled, give it a bit of glue. Now run this up through the upper Fighting top and and down to the channel on the other side tie this off and run it up to a point above the upper fighting top. I dont tie them off here only at the sides. After securing it at the channel you started with run it up to the top of the mast. Tie it at this point and run it down finishing off at the opposite channel. This will give you three lines spaced up the mast holding the mast firmly side to side, you'll also note that as the hull points were drilled slightly aft of the masts they are held firmly aft. Repeat on the other two masts.

    Next up is the fore aft rigging. This can be a complex or simple as you like. I start at the lower sections first. From the lower fighting top of the mizzen mast I run a line to the base of the main mast. Then a line from the upper fighting top of the mizzenmast through a hole in the mainmast to the base of the foremast. The third line is from the top yard of the mizzenmast through the hold at the upper fighting top of the mainmast then to the lower fighting top of the foremast from there I tie off at the hole above the yard on the bowsprit, from the bowsprit one last line to the hold on the hull just below the figurehead. The point of this whole mess is you now have a good deal of strength from the lines tied to the hull behind the mizzenmast through each mast and the bowsprit and back to the hull.

    After that I run three more for aft lines. Note the one line that was specifically run with a eye to match the angle of the jib sail. Also note the line placed on the rear or mizzen sail this will be used to attach the ensign.

    Now on to the bowsprit. This line starts at a hole in the bulkhead just behind the cathead from here to the yard tie here, at the tip of the bowsprit and on to the other end of the yard. Next to the opposite bulkhead. Not done yet now run the line through the hole in the bowsprit above the yard and back to your start point and secure it.

    For a better idea of what I'm trying to get across here there is Langton Miniatures' Assembly, Painting & Rigging of Napoleonic Naval Models in Scale 1:1200 long title excellent resource.

    Three more steps Rat lines, Basing and Transport.

    The Langton photo etch ratlines are easy to use and add another nice touch of realism. The three deck set has 4 lines per mast while their not numbered you can tell what goes where.

    I prime them and paint them on the sprue adding a spot of brown for the eye's

    Cut them out with a small sharp pair of scissors. Fit check each one before applying a small amount of superglue and setting them. The lower one should set on the channel and should attach just under the fighting top. The next one sets on the lower fighting top and fits under the upper fighting top. Fit testing is vital a misapplication of superglue at this scale is bad, very bad trust me.

    After the ratline its the ensign and pennants these came with the 4 hull sets but like the ratlines can be purchased separately.

    Originally I had set three small rare earth magnets in the resin base provided. During painting I found that while this looked best the base was to low or thin and risked damaging the ship each time you picked it up. To remedy this I added a Litko 3mm x 40mm x 80mm plywood riser.
    The extra 5mm length gives me a place to add a magnetic name plate and the 3mm rise makes it easy to pick up. Oh yes I did add three of the small rare earth magnets to the new bottom.

    The base color is Vallejo Scurf Green followed with a dry brush of Wolf Gray and topped with a light dusting of White. To give it the translucent wet look I topped it all with a layer of Vallejo Water effects well, "Transparent Water".

    The transport case is a $9 pine case from a craft shop. I removed the handle and flipped it over putting a new handle on the "bottom". Then a block of 3/4 pine was added to the inverted bottom to make it flush. To this a thin sheet of steel was added for the base magnets. This gives me a hard case that I don't have to risk the masts and yards to get the ship out of. Why all of the added trouble? unlike other mini's damaging one of these ships is likely to be the end of it.

    The finished item HMS Royal Sovereign. Thanks again for taking a look hope it helps.

    This article was originally published in forum thread: Building and painting the HMS Sovereign started by fire6 View original post
    Comments 9 Comments
    1. David Manley's Avatar
      David Manley -
      Text is great - pictures not appearing!!!
    1. The Cowman's Avatar
      The Cowman -
      PERFECT first article!
    1. Bluedevil's Avatar
      Bluedevil -
      I've read this from top to bottom and back! A great guide to build a shp model and very coprehensive!It will come in very handy when I get my Langton miniatures!:)Thank you very much!:D
    1. Coog's Avatar
      Coog -
      Extremely well done! You have far, far more skill and patience than I.
    1. Volunteer's Avatar
      Volunteer -
      Very nice tutorial. More concise and complete than mine. You do things somewhat different, but on the whole get nice results.
    1. Bruce's Avatar
      Bruce -
      Thanks for this very well photographed tutorial Fire6; it will be a handy reference as my age-of-sail ship collection grows.
      I have all of the tools, paints and brushes because I paint miniatures of several descriptions (aircraft, BattleTech and fantasy figures), but so far I have not painted any tiny ships. Soon though.
    1. Lucky Jack's Avatar
      Lucky Jack -
      Very good hints and realy fantastic photographes
    1. garchilajr's Avatar
      garchilajr -
      I. Am. Aghast.
    1. capncarp's Avatar
      capncarp -
      Gah. Disgusting display of raw, offensive talent.
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