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"Painting a Viking ship. What color?" Topic

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Dukewilliam11 Aug 2021 8:10 a.m. PST

I recently purchased a Revell plastic model kit of a 'Viking' ship.

I understand this is opening a can of worms and I will get a different answer from each response, but that is sort of what I an after.

What color(s) would you use to paint the wood?

Please, bear in mind I use Vallejo and Game Color paints, so other suggestions do not help me, though I appreciate your willingness to help.

Thanks in advance,

HMS Exeter11 Aug 2021 8:38 a.m. PST

Considering that there are surviving examples, a Google Images search would be an excellent stepping off point to begin a search for your answer.

I did a quick run through. Most of the ships were a dark, blackish brown, though one seemed like a multi shaded gray.

To be sure, the similarities in appearance may well be a product of curators using similar chemicals and treatments to preserve the ships, the vessel's age or interment.

If, as you well might, you choose to disregard the appearance of the surviving examples as corrupted, I kinda think you're free to employ whatever you like.

Just my tuppence.

BillyNM11 Aug 2021 8:55 a.m. PST

Why not use a colour schem like those shown on the Bayeux Tapestry? Whatever they looked like in past I'll bet it wasn't how they look in museums now.

gbowen11 Aug 2021 8:57 a.m. PST

I went for green and red

Personal logo Grelber Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2021 10:01 a.m. PST

I did the bulk of the hull, inside and out, in dark wood brown and the top rail in a fairly dull blue. I have a second ship which will get a red or yellow top rail. IN both cases, the figurehead (a dragon) will be painted in more or less natural colors.


Aidan Campbell11 Aug 2021 10:12 a.m. PST

This might be somewhat of a "pet" topic for me having worked as a conservator preserving excavated period originals and having been involved in sailing replicas as well as having designed/built two myself as well as produced replica woolen sailcloth to equip these hulls…

In most cases I'd stick to a suggestion of natural timber treated with natural tars/pitch, so something dark with just enough shadow highlight to make a model interesting.

In rare case there is a little evidence for the most prestigious fighting ships to display a little painted colour along the upper strakes and "dragon heads" in which case stick to natural hues.

Biggest thing if wanting to look more authentic is to remember that linen/canvas sails didn't come in to use until the end of the Viking era most used woollen sails (most fleeces at the time weren't white but natural greys) with various fish oil and ochre smorring to weather-proof them. Striped sails look good on models but a dirty grey red/yellow ochre hue might me more realistic.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2021 10:52 a.m. PST

Dark brown fading to grey with green or red highlights on areas like the upper strakes, figurehead, etc.

Personal logo x42brown Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2021 6:08 a.m. PST


is what pine tar on wood looks like on a modern Sweedish boat. The pine tar is the same as was used from way back. I would take this as a probable colour ans was what I tryed to achive on my boat

Aidan Campbell12 Aug 2021 8:52 a.m. PST

@x42brown – I'd suggest somewhat darker than this as that picture shows a heavily refined pine tar, maybe even one manufactured in a factory as a thinned solution mixed with oil and varnish for a better finish. Probably something similar to Varnol which was lovely stuff to use before it became difficult to obtain.

If you've tried to use more primitive experimental archaeological methods to produce the tar from scratch it is rarely so clean as to give a shiny oiled look being a little closer to the black Stockholm tar vets apply as a medicinal remedy to animal's hooves.

Also the timber in that picture gives the appearance of being machine polished before being treated which would change the look.

You may want to Google the Roar Ege to get an impression of how a truly authentically built, used and maintained replica ship looks.

Dukewilliam13 Aug 2021 8:14 a.m. PST

Just what I needed, thanks men.

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