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"Looking for a gamer's guide to rigging ships" Topic

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Dameon Inactive Member25 Nov 2017 12:01 a.m. PST

I am currently rigging my WarArtisan ships. There's a "guide" on the site which gives some tips, but it doesn't really tell you anything about what would go where.

I've found numerous resources on rigging for model ships, but they all are voluminous tomes covering rigging details that we'd never include in gaming scales.

Can anyone recommend a good source for learning the basics of rigging that doesn't get lost in its own pedantic minutiae?

(Apparently there was a network glitch when I posted this, can a Mod please clean this up, please?)

Sergeant Paper25 Nov 2017 12:21 a.m. PST

How far do you want to go? You could add:
1) Standing rigging (the lines that run down fore and aft or from mast to mast) and shrouds (that come down from the mast to the channels on the sides of the hull just behind the mast)

2) lifts (coming down from the mast to the outside ends of each yard)

Like so:

Sergeant Paper25 Nov 2017 12:27 a.m. PST

As a Nautical archaeologist, who studied ship design and construction for my degree, if you aren't sure what goes where, you're probably better leaving the lines off entirely.

On the other hand, if you do add them and get them wrong, you've still done something to dress up the models, and you're no worse than hundreds of naval illustrators and modelers before you.

I do recommend lots of looking at War Artisans's pictures on his website and on Flickr. He has done enough rigging to look really good without going superdetailed and unwieldy.

David Manley25 Nov 2017 3:30 a.m. PST

Drop me your email address and I can send you a handy article by Rod Langton from many years ago

Dave Jackson Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2017 6:18 a.m. PST

The Langton guide is your best bet.

d88mm1940 Supporting Member of TMP25 Nov 2017 11:29 a.m. PST

Agreed about the Langton book. After reading it, you'll want to quit your job, join the British navy and chase Frenchies around the pond…

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP25 Nov 2017 11:43 a.m. PST

I have the Langton guide, and it's very good. Some people (myself included, obviously) find this easier and quicker:

PDF link

If the photos in this guide don't make it clear enough where the rigging should go, there's this illustration in the General Instructions (page 8):


devsdoc Inactive Member26 Nov 2017 5:27 p.m. PST

If you go to Vol's blog paper "A Miniatures Hobby Room" you will find my 4 part guide to Painting and rigging 1-1200 scale sailing ships. It is based on Langton's guide but with Photo's of each stage. Sorry some of the photo's are not the best. Rod and Carol Langton have seen and O.K.ed it.
Be safe

Dameon Inactive Member26 Nov 2017 8:06 p.m. PST

Well, I paid for my membership again but forgot my e-mail here and my paypal are different… You can message me at

I approach this from the standpoint that I am making gaming pieces. They will be handled and played with and are not meant to be models sitting untouched behind glass on a shelf. They only need to look good at table top distance.

Still, I want to be as historically accurate as feasible and not just stringing rigging willy-nilly.

womble67 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2017 3:15 a.m. PST

My list of Useful Wargaming Guides.

Rigging Tutorial

hope it helps.

As always, comments are appreciated.

Take care


Dameon Inactive Member27 Nov 2017 1:42 p.m. PST

Has anyone tried using floral wire?

I am not satisfied with the results of using glue stiffened thread, as it is very difficult to get the lines taut. I have a lot of wire and figured I can just run a Sharpie along it to make it black. I haven't seen any mention of using floral wire in any modeling guides I have read so far but I figured I'd give it a try.

Dameon Inactive Member27 Nov 2017 10:02 p.m. PST

To add on a post for whoever may still be reading or discover this, I've been experimenting with a few different glues, materials for the rigging and techniques.

I've tried glue stiffened thread and floral wire with combinations of white glue, tacky craft glue and super glues.

So far I have had the best results using the glue stiffened thread and gel-control super glue. I cut the piece of thread longer than it needs to be, then dab a bit of glue on the spar/ship where the rigging line will be anchored. I hold the thread in place for a moment with tweezers, letting it bond then leave if for a few minutes to fully set.

Then I put another dab glue where I want the other end to be secured, grabbing the end of the thread with tweezers I pull it just lightly enough to be taut and hold it so the thread passes through the glue. Once it firms up I let it sit for another few minutes then come back and carefully trim the extra rigging thread off with a small pair of sharp scissors.

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP28 Nov 2017 2:54 a.m. PST

That sounds like it works alright, but if the thread is properly stiffened, it shouldn't be necessary (or even possible) to pull it taut. Any length of stiffened cotton thread less than a few inches long should stand out perfectly straight when held horizontally by one end. Such a piece, cut exactly to the length required, should stay perfectly straight when dropped into place with a tiny bit of glue on each end. This would save you lots of work and time over any method that required each end to be secured separately.

I've lost count of how many hundreds of ships I've rigged this way, and I've never had to pull a line taut.

As for your question about florist's wire: yes, I have used it, and still occasionally do. On larger models, when the stays can get to be quite long, I'll substitute a few wire stays for the thread to keep the masts from flexing when the ships are handled during play. Even a slight flex of a mast more than a couple inches tall can cause the attached rigging to kink or pop loose on one end (which is easily repaired, but why risk it if it's not necessary?)

Master Caster Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2017 8:21 a.m. PST

I had to look up what scale, period and materials the War Artisan ships are. If these are paper models you're referring to i'm not familiar with that type of material. Having said that may I offer the following:
1. I have 5-7 books in my library all geared to rigging sailing and early steam vessels or parts thereof one of them just on British ships. 'Rigging Period Ship Models' by Lennarth Petersson is good and he does another book on just fore-and-aft period vessels.
2. I show some of my Sea Eagles 15mm vessels at shows and conventions and seeing the rigging up close is a very daunting and overwhelming thing for many potential customers. I tell them going one step at a time with a good guide can make it an enjoyable and rewarding experience. But don't overdo it. Model ships in any scale do not need nearly the actual and correct amount of rigging unless we are talking about 'museum' quality vessels like those seen at The Mariners' Museum or other nautical museums. 'Some' standing rigging for support is essential if the model is going to travel or will be played with in games. 'Some' running rigging or a suggestion of the same is needed to give support to yards and sails. Best go adding on rigging up to a certain level that looks good to you and then stop. Too much can be a chore. Too much rigging done on a scale model can easily overwhelm the visual effect.
3. Third and last is rigging material. For a long very long time I have pitched using rigging threads from a company in Germany called 'MOROPE'. It is mainly polyester rigging thread (no fuzzies) made in many different scales (yes, even rigging thread comes in different scales) and last I looked he makes three colors black, brown and manilla. Purists can even order left or right twists believe it or not. Google their web site and there you will find a US supplier in the Chicago area. I use MOROPE on both 1/600 scale and 15mm scale models and I highly recommend it. I also urge you to find a set of baby fingernail cutters. The best tool I've ever used to trim loose ends in one quick shot. 'Micro Mark' sells or used to sell a rigging jig for doing rat lines in different sizes/scales and I recommend you getting one of those.
I've seen it countless times where out of scale rigging (too thick) or sloppy and careless work on rigging has greatly detracted from the looks of a period model. And I think that's what you want to avoid by posting and asking the question to begin with. Ultimately do what best works for you by practicing and developing those methods, materials, tool work and tricks that get you where you want to be with your models. And Enjoy!
Toby Barrett

Personal logo War Artisan Sponsoring Member of TMP29 Nov 2017 12:21 p.m. PST

Good info and excellent advice, Toby.

I'd like to re-emphasize your final point to Dameon (and anyone else learning to rig small ships). If, after a bit of practice, the method and/or material you're using is frustrating or the outcome isn't what you expected, then try something else. You should find both the process and the end result satisfying. It's a hobby . . . you're supposed to be enjoying it!

Weirdo30 Nov 2017 2:41 p.m. PST

On my War Artisan ships, I use the tutorial devsdoc mentioned, though I leave the shrouds off in an attempt to preserve my sanity. (Can't say that's working, though it certainly simplifies the madness around the mizzenmast.) I find it works very well, and the method of using a single long thread to make several lines and stays breaks the task down into nicely manageable chunks. You do have to poke holes in the hull for the backstays, catheads, and under the bow, but that's easy enough to do with a thumbtack and repair any damage to the printed image with marker or paint.

The only really tricky part are the headsails. Unless you use floral wire for the fore stays, there's nothing rigid to attach the sails to. I'm okay gluing them directly to the threads, but it's tricky every time. I often cheat a bit by attaching them at enough of an angle that they barely touch the bowsprit rigging and put a bit of glue there to help brace them.

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