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"1/4800 ships are awesome and definitely not too small!" Topic

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KniazSuvorov07 Jul 2015 4:02 p.m. PST

…But how small is it, really?


1/4800 is pretty small.














I've been buying batches of 1/4800 WWII ships from shapeways for a couple of years now. Sure, I'm a big naval fan, but mostly I wanted some because the models are produced by egregious 3d-printed futuristic witchcraft technology.



I'm glad I got into these. They're relatively cheap, for the most part incredibly well-modeled, and paint up in anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour or so, depending on the complexity of the model and the colour scheme.


A couple of years ago, this technology was still in its infancy; prints were "fuzzy", and frequently clogged with wax from the printer. Nowadays, prints tend to be sharper and cleaner--much easier to work with.













For anyone who doesn't know, Shapeways is a 3d print-on-demand service: you place an order, they print the model and ship it to you. I've purchased ships from several different sculptors, any of whom I would recommend:
and, last but not least, my own stuff. Yes, after seeing what was possible, I decided to start doing it myself. And no, before someone gets on my case about it, I'm not here to flog anything; I don't actually make any money selling these things, so it's completely immaterial to me if anyone else buys them or not. I'm just sharing what's out there.

Incidentally, Shapeways is offering free shipping this week, so if you ever wanted to try these or anything else 3d printed, now is the time.

myxemail07 Jul 2015 4:26 p.m. PST

Very well done. I would have never guessed that they are that small. The bases with the painted wakes look great too.


svsavory07 Jul 2015 4:37 p.m. PST

Those are beautiful!

MacrossMartin07 Jul 2015 4:46 p.m. PST

Half the size of GHQ, but almost the same detail, from the look of them. Thanks for showing what a 3D print can be, at the hands of a talented painter. The printed bases look great, too.

Dances with Clydesdales07 Jul 2015 5:28 p.m. PST

Very nice!

FML ONeil07 Jul 2015 6:31 p.m. PST

Lord it hurts to see how well you have painted those up … think I'll put mine in the drawer now …


Attackcamel07 Jul 2015 6:45 p.m. PST

"Sharp intake of breath…!" Those are gorgeous! amazing paint job on the whole pile! great bases too! I can't do nearly as good twice as big! Those bitty Planes!!

daveshoe07 Jul 2015 8:08 p.m. PST

Those look great! The frosted ultra-detail printing really makes the details pop out. I had jumped in with the Figurehead 1/6000 ships when they first came out; mainly because they had almost all the ships I wanted in that scale (unlike the 1/4800 scale offerings of the time). But the availability of ships through Shapeways makes me wonder if it is time to take another look at 1/4800 scale.

Mako1107 Jul 2015 9:28 p.m. PST

Wow, those do look stunning, as do your very nice bases for them too!

How did you manage to match the paint on your bases so nicely with your playing surface?

Colored decals, perhaps?

I suspect the addition of the flags and vessel names is a real help too, for such small vessels, for all excepting possibly the most grizzled, and sharp-eyed naval expert.

Thanks for sharing your pics.

Veteran Cosmic Rocker07 Jul 2015 10:14 p.m. PST

That is the finest collection of WW2 naval I have seen – I have 1:3000 and mine are no way as impressive as your models.

Bozkashi Jones07 Jul 2015 10:43 p.m. PST

On, bravo sir!

And yep, a tutorial on your bases would be very welcome


Jcfrog08 Jul 2015 1:02 a.m. PST

Everything here is awesome.
Whenever I will be able to move somewhere with suitable players, I will redo all in 1/4800.

Jcfrog08 Jul 2015 4:59 a.m. PST

I think he took a picture / pictures of his sea mat, probably made up wakes maybe from real pictures, printed the whole and sticks the ships on it.
Or painted the wakes.

Captain Gideon08 Jul 2015 6:25 a.m. PST

I used to have the 1/4800 scale ships that CinC made many years ago but their problem was they only did a small number which was British and German for their North Cape Game and additional ships for those 2 countries.

I do have to say that their Hood had as much detail as a GHQ Hood.

CinC never continued that line a shame really because I heard that they were going to be doing American's and Japanese which someone saw the early versions of them but nothing more.

For myself I have 1/6000th scale and the entire German,Japanese and Italian WWII Fleets I also have some British,American,Dutch and French ships as well.

The other thing I like about the 1/6000th scale is that made many of the Never Built ships for many of the countries like the H-44 for example.

I know that the 1/6000th scale is smaller than 1/4800th scale but you can still make out what the ships are and they paint up pretty good too.

Mute Bystander08 Jul 2015 7:36 a.m. PST

+1 Captain Gideon, though I limited myself to the Java Seas battles and a single modern ship.

That said, you have an outstanding set of ships there!

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2015 8:58 a.m. PST

First, I have to join the chorus here in expressing my appreciation. Those are beautiful. Very well done, sir. Bravo!

I had never noticed how complete the range of available 1/4800 models has become. And there are planes…! ZOMG!!!

Where do you live? I want to play in your games. grin

Please tell me you're bringing these to Navcon in Milwaukee in October!

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2015 9:12 a.m. PST

I think he took a picture / pictures of his sea mat, probably made up wakes maybe from real pictures, printed the whole and sticks the ships on it.
Or painted the wakes.

Bingo. The tops of those bases are clearly printed on a color printer and glued to the basing material. The result is simply brilliant.

If you look carefully, you can see that the basing material is two layers. I'm guessing the bottom layer is magnetic material.

I love the way these look. My toy envy dial is registering all the way in the green zone.

- Ix

goragrad08 Jul 2015 9:55 a.m. PST

Very, very nice!!!

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2015 10:13 a.m. PST

BTW: the decks of those carriers are painted, not decals. You can tell if you scale up the photos.

- Ix

jgibbons08 Jul 2015 5:15 p.m. PST

Really nice job at any scale…. But at 1/4800? Wow

Robert Kennedy08 Jul 2015 7:05 p.m. PST

Awesome!!!! Thanks for posting grin


My 1/4800 scale model ships Yahoo Group

Robert Kennedy08 Jul 2015 8:21 p.m. PST

KniazSuvorov. Could I use your photos in my 1/4800 Yahoo Group.


colkitto09 Jul 2015 2:59 a.m. PST

These are stunning. I would really like to hear how you painted them: the "For Dummies" approach, if possible!

Mallen09 Jul 2015 4:10 a.m. PST

OMG. My right hand's tendonitus acts up when Ijust think about trying to paint them!

KniazSuvorov09 Jul 2015 4:18 a.m. PST

Thanks everyone, glad you enjoyed them. At some point I'd like to do a proper painting + basing tutorial with pictures, but for now here's a short version:

Basing for dummies: Yep, you've guessed all my secrets! The 'water' surface is just a free, tileable texture I pulled off the internet. I made up a bunch of bases with flags and labels in a graphics editor, and printed them out on photo paper. I've been hand-painting the wakes, although it probably would've been smarter to airbrush them digitally!

The backing, is, as Yellow Admiral has guessed, magnetic. I bought cheap self-adhesive magnets meant for business cards. These are simple to cut to size with a steel ruler and a dull x-acto knife. I double-layered the magnets to give the base a bit more stiffness.

Painting for dummies: these things are so small that contrast is everything. I keep the dark colours in the paint scheme the same shade I would use on a larger model (keeping in mind that the same shade will tend to look darker on smaller models), while making bright colours quite a bit lighter. Base colours can be slathered on indiscriminately, but you'll want at least one fine pointed betail brush (spotter or liner) in the 5/0 to 20/0 range. My technique is as follows:

1. Clean and prep the model. For 3D prints, I throw them in a jar of undiluted all-purpose household cleaner for a week, to get rid of the wax. Once rinsed, they're ready to go.

2. Paint the vertical surfaces. I use a "large" (size 0) brush to apply the ship's base colour-- it doesn't matter if you get any on the decking at this point. Camo patterns (if used) are painted over top with a detail brush.

3. Paint the horizontal surfaces. I use a detail brush for superstructure decking, as well as areas around the turrets, etc. You want to be a little more careful at this point not to mess up the vertical paintwork. Don't worry about painting over small deck details (mushroom vents, anchor chains, winches, etc.)

4. Shading. I use black ink diluted with flow aid (meant for airbrushes), about 1 part ink to 2 parts flow aid. Brush it over the model, making sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies.

5. Highlighting. To really make the details pop out, I paint any edges visible from a top-down perspective with a lighter shade of the ship's base colour-- usually a very light grey. This is where all the previously-ignored details (AA mounts, liferafts, mushroom vents, etc.) are picked out. Yes, I do this by hand! It takes a steady hand, but the results are worth it. After much practice, it takes me about 6-7 minutes to highlight a destroyer, 15-20 minutes for a cruiser. A late-war battleship with piles of AA might take the better part of an hour.

6. Aircraft. I paint these pretty much the same way as the ships: base coat, shade with diluted ink, then highlight details (canopy, engine cowling). Use the point of a pin to dab on the roundels. Again, since these things are the size of gnats, contrast and brightness are key; try not to paint your plane the same colour as the deck or catapult it's going to be sitting on.

KniazSuvorov09 Jul 2015 4:23 a.m. PST

Robert: go ahead and use whatever pics you want in the Yahoo group. I can post the images for the ships' bases there as well, if anyone wants them.

Captain Gideon09 Jul 2015 6:51 a.m. PST

Thanks Mute Bystander.

Some Chicken09 Jul 2015 10:58 a.m. PST

Wowser. I am in awe, and give up now.

Robert Kennedy09 Jul 2015 12:26 p.m. PST

Thanks and please do KniazSuvorov grin


Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2015 2:50 p.m. PST

Your painting technique for these is almost exactly the same as I have used for 1/6000 models – which makes sense, since they are similarly tiny.

BTW, after reading several Internet discussions like this one on TMP, I tried Bestine for removing the wax from 3D plastic prints, and it appears to work perfectly, without attacking the plastic. It will probably do a better job in a couple hours than you get from a week of soaking in detergent, no brushing necessary.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2015 3:49 p.m. PST

Wowser. I am in awe, and give up now.

LOL! Please don't give up. His technique is actually pretty easy; all you have to do is follow his recipe and you'll get similarly impressive results, quickly. I admit his skill with a brush, picking out all those details, may be better than many of us, but in these tiny scales you can actually get away with a much broader dry-brush technique and nobody will complain.

I've used a similar technique on 1/6000 scale miniatures (though my bases aren't quite as nice to look at), and I found I could get an entire task force from bare metal to playable in about a week. There are some steps that require waiting (soaking off wax, waiting for paint or primer or clearcoat to dry, etc.), and some things will slow you down: wooden decks, cammo patterns, special things like those Italian barber-pole bows, probably the airplanes. However, using this scale and KniazSuvorov's techniques, you could churn out all the ships for the entire "hunt for the Bismark" scenario (and even throw in a few "what if" vessels that weren't present) in a week or two. It might take a month to prep for Coral Sea or Guadalcanal (two fleets, lots of planes).

I didn't realize the 1/4800 scale had grown so complete. I'm tempted to sell off my 1/2400 collection now and start over.

- Ix

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2015 4:19 p.m. PST

The photos above nicely illustrate something I've said in other threads – matching the pattern of one's ship bases to the sea surface you play on is more important than making the bases look perfectly realistic. Compare the photos above with this one from WTJ:

The WTJ model and the base are both nicely painted, and the base is a very nicely done "green" sea color with beautiful waves and a lovely glistening water effect, but it doesn't blend in at all with the sea cloth around it. The visual effect of this on the gaming table is a fleet of dark green rectangles, because the bases have a much greater surface area than the models and from a distance invariably distract your eyes from the ships mounted on them.

By contrast, KniazSuvorov picked a pattern that blends in almost perfectly with his chosen gaming surface, so there's little to distract your eye from the ships themselves. What you see when you stand back is a fleet of ships surrounded by square miles of open sea. (If the text and flags "floating" near each hull bother you, you can move them to the bottom of the base, or maybe onto a vertical edge.)

- Ix

Skarper09 Jul 2015 8:13 p.m. PST

Very impressed. The painting is spot on and the basing takes the cake!

colkitto10 Jul 2015 2:20 a.m. PST

Thanks for the description. Am now looking forward to reading your full tutorial when you get the chance!

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2015 1:28 p.m. PST

Nicely painted and based (even though I don't like bases). Given the fragility of FUD, however, bases might be necessary.

One possible improvement would be to paint the sides of the bases a lighter color, to compensate for them usually being in shadow. By trial and error, you could get them to disappear when lit from above, which is the usual direction.

Again, nice job!


Robert Kennedy13 Jul 2015 2:14 p.m. PST

I've got a couple of hundred ships right now. I just received in the mail today the USN 3" DE x6 (FUD),2 each of Evarts (GMT)Buckley (TE)Cannon (DET)/Edsall (FMR) and the,

Deckpark USN Early War Alternative (FUD)
TBF (34)
2x single
8x 2 (wings folded)
8x 2 nose to tail

SBD (28)
4x single
8x 3 nose to tail

F4F (42)
4x single
6x 3 nose to tail
4x 2 (wings folded)
4x 3 (wings folded)

that I ordered from the SNAFU Store at Shapeways. I can't wait to paint them. I hope I can be as good as the ones here LOL. grin




HistoryPhD08 Sep 2015 9:47 a.m. PST

Suvorov, those have to be the best bases I've ever seen!!

Grignotage15 Sep 2015 10:53 a.m. PST

Those are fantastic. I have loaded up my cart at shapeways with stuff for Guadalcanal.

What fragile are they?

Robert Kennedy30 Sep 2015 6:52 p.m. PST

The ships seem pretty sturdy. The aircraft on the other hand are kinda fragile.


Timmo uk05 Dec 2015 4:32 p.m. PST

They look fabulous to me. I have 1/4800 on my back burner to do one day.

Robert Kennedy18 Dec 2015 1:10 p.m. PST

I'm glad that the availability of types is finally getting bigger .


SymphonicPoet01 Jan 2016 11:29 a.m. PST

Very impressive. Very very impressive indeed.

WWIICentral06 Jan 2016 7:49 p.m. PST

I ordered several ships from Shapeways as a result of this thread and I received them today… I'm honestly disappointed. I mean no disrespect, your ships are beautiful KniazSuvorov!

However, from my standpoint, this isn't really an option for me going forward. I spent ~$33 on 1 Carrier, 4 Battleships, and 4 Destroyers. When I opened the package I immediately felt like I overpaid. I felt even worse when I gently pulled the destroyers out of the bubble wrap to look at them and the superstructures easily snapped off.

The detail on the models looks great and the designers have done a tremendous job, but the printing material is just too expensive and not at all durable.

I just wanted to share my personal experience. Perhaps others experience has been better.


fullmetal201508 Jan 2016 11:26 a.m. PST

Nice stuff and love it all, but I do have a few questions.

1.) is it just you an the ones listed above that only make this scale of ships?

2.) are you looking to broaden your aviable ships?

3.) best paint to use?

4.) like WWIICentral stated above is there a proper why to remove them from their wrapping and such?

I have a large 1/2400 scale fleet, but would love to go to smaller scale an keep the details, like in your models. Only hesitation I have is one durability and two would anyone be interested in purchasing my fleet I have now?


KniazSuvorov10 Jan 2016 5:29 a.m. PST

I'm kind of surprised to see this old thread still alive and kicking! It's nice to know there's interest, however.

1.) There are a bunch of different designers offering models in this scale. Type "1/4800" in the Shapeways search bar and they'll come up.

2.) Me? No. Not currently. The most prolific designers are probably matt_atknsn and echoco (links in the OP). echoco takes commissions, if you want something specific made.

3.) I use acrylics (Vallejo). Anything that doesn't melt plastic should work, though.

4.) Some orders have come in ziploc baggies; some in bubble-wrap baggies (each individual item in its own bag). I just open the bag and gently tap (DON'T pull) out the models.

WWIICentral raises real concerns about durability: the sort of handling that would bend a mast on a metal model will snap it clean off a 3d print. As long as you don't lose the broken part (and remember that these parts are really, REALLY small), you can superglue it back on, and it will actually be stronger!

Note that designer EBard makes models that are MUCH more rugged (see link in the OP). He is also very amenable to combining his models into a single print item, which saves a lot of $$. The tradeoff is that his models don't have the extra-fine details of other designers. (Enterprise, Saratoga, Shokaku, Zuikaku and Hiyo in the pics are EBard models)

Regarding price: I expected 3d printing to get cheaper as the technology matured. Defying expectations, models are probably twice as expensive now as they were a few years ago. It's sad.

A few notes that might help some of you save money:

1) with Shapeways, you pay a base fee for each item printed. That means if a designer is willing to combine multiple items you want into a single print item, it costs less. This would also be a good way to avoid purchasing unwanted class duplicates. For example, Ebard made me this: link , which costs considerably less than buying each of these items separately from his store.

2) If you register for a Shapeways account, they will occasionally send you e-coupons.

3) If you leave a bunch of stuff in your shopping cart without buying it, Shapeways MAY send you an e-coupon to convince you to buy!

4) All of the models shown in the OP are printed in FUD (Frosted Ultra Detail). There is now a horrendously-expensive FED print option, but (without having seen it) I doubt the extra detail is worth the extra cost.

5) If you buy something, Shapeways will probably send you an e-coupon to get you to buy more.

WWIICentral10 Jan 2016 6:09 p.m. PST

Thank you for clarifying, I can confirm your comment on the Ebard miniatures.

*The CV-5 I ordered from Ebard is more durable. It is chunkier looking, but it's still probably more detailed than a 1/6000 Figurehead CV-5.

It's good to know that you've got some suggestions on how to make the pricing more affordable. This could be very helpful for folks looking to get into 1/4800.

Lastly, after looking at the 1/4800 prints that I ordered, I have more respect for your skilled painting. Wow! That's pretty impressive!


Bezmozgu710 Feb 2017 6:01 a.m. PST

Mike, your work is brilliant. I've just started work on some of these and can't seem to get all the wax out of the smallest recesses. What household cleaner do you use to soak the miniatures before rinsing? Thanks!

hindsTMP Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2017 12:04 p.m. PST

In case he doesn't answer, there are 2 schools of thought on this. Search the boards for "Bestine" or "WTJ".

The first school (derived from the on-line Model Railroad community) uses the not-too-unhealthy solvent Bestine (rubber cement thinner), which removes all the wax, leaving the model white and opaque.

The second school uses various combinations of detergent and brushing, which despite their claims, leaves a wax residue. FYI, you can paint over wax if you use latex paints, due to their "skin" effect. I painted a birthday candle several months ago, and it is still in pristine condition. What would happen in a heated car is TBD.

Mark H.

AlexiusStephens05 Apr 2017 7:50 p.m. PST


Your important post inspired me to adopt your methodology and over a few days I have been creating the photo paper printouts with digitized labels as you did. So far they are spectacular and visually appealing…although I do have a question as to what type of adhesive you used to base the actual ship to the photo paper, and also the photo paper to the base itself without distorting either one. I am thinking of using acrylic bases from Litko.


SymphonicPoet07 Apr 2017 8:23 a.m. PST

If I had it to do over again I'd probably go 1/4800. Or even 1/6000. Makes for better looking fleet engagements, I think. Those look great! Well done.

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