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Painting 1:700 Black Seas French Brigs

Master & Commander Starter Set
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$70 USD

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GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP writes:

Looks good enough for a miniature battle game, cheers!

Revision Log
27 May 2020page first published

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1:700 Black Seas British Brigs

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian paints brigs for the British fleet.

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian explores the Master & Commander starter set for Black Seas.

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©1994-2024 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian writes:

A while back, we looked at the Master & Commander boxed set for Black Seas (from Warlord Games).

Master & Commander boxed set

The boxed set contains sprues with parts for brigs and frigates. In this article, I'm assembling and painting three brigs as French ships.

Brig sprue

To my eyes, it looked much easier to build and paint the ships in sub-assemblies, rather than build the entire brig and try to paint it after assembly.

Brig hull parts

The hull consists of three parts: two sides and the deck. I thought the deck would be easier to paint separately, so I assembled the hull at first without the deck.

Assembled hull

I used brush-on plastic solvent to put the hull together. The odd thing about the design of the model is that the tabs fit the hull together horizontally, but not vertically, so double check the fit before the bond is hard. You might need to clip or pinch the bow to get a good bond there. With some file work, you can eliminate the seam on the flat part of the stern.

Primed hull and deck

I then spray-primed the hull and deck white.

Deck painting

There are lots of opinions about the 'right' color for decks, anything from dark brown to near-white (British holystoned decks). I went with tan, and used a black marker to color the guns.

Deck painting

A wash with Coat d'Arms Super Wash Dark Brown brings out the deck lines.

Deck painting

The decks are finished with colors to match the painting scheme for each brig. A little black ink wash darkens the hatch grills.

Hull painting

Meanwhile, I've also painted the hulls. The Black Seas rulebook provides useful guidance about which colors were more popular with the various nations. I experimented with three hull colors: medium brown (leather brown with dark brown wash), black (black drybrushed with dark gray), and black/red/light blue (also washed to bring out detail). The blue stripe on the black and brown hulls was done with marker pen.

Painted deck and hull

Now it's time to put the deck on the hull. But wait! I may have out-smarted myself. The deck doesn't just fit into place – it has to be popped into place. Hope the hull holds together!

Decks in place

Made it! I used superglue on the hull before popping the decks in, since the parts were painted.

Decks in place

I touched up some scratched paint afterward.


Each brig has a bowsprit and two masts. The rear mast has two spars which need to be glued on – the fit of the pieces guides you to the right angle, but you'll have to double-check that you have the spars parallel to each other. I painted the masts the same tan as the decks, then added color to match each brig's painting scheme. One mast and the bowsprit have reefed sails: I painted these white, washed with different colors as an experiment (medium brown, dark brown, and black), then highlighted again with white. The most painstaking part of painting are the platforms and ties on the mast and the bowsprit sails. My shortcut? Black marker for the lines, cleaned up when the sails are painted white.

The masts can now be glued into place. The big masts plug into holes in the deck, and be careful – once the masts are in place, it is difficult to adjust them without risking snapping them off at the base! This gets tricky because even though you line them up right, you kind of have to pop them into place into the deck with your fingertips, and they can twist unexpectedly. Double-check that the masts are straight and parallel to each other. The bowsprit slides through a hole in the hull and into a channel in the deck. Be careful not to snap it, and make sure the sails are straight before you insert the mast, because it's hard to adjust later.

This article concludes with the models painted and ready for gaming. Later, I'll add the extras: sails, flags, rigging, anchors, and I'll base them for safe storage.

The light blue is eye-catching, but perhaps too bright.


Similarly, I think the brown hull looks nice, but I wonder if it's too light.


I'm pretty sure the deck scribing is out of scale, but don't it look good? grin


And if you're wondering why my 'French' brigs don't share a common color scheme… this was an age when individual captains decided what their ships would look like, with wealthier captains having more options. There were popular trends, but no enforced uniformity, and a ship could move between fleets due to capture!


Now, as I like to say, I show off my work only to show what an 'average' gamer can accomplish…


…and sometimes, I make mistakes, too! grin


I was certain I double-checked my work! Battle damage, anyone?


I'm not sure that can be fixed, either. Oh well, she can still steer straight on the tabletop!


A black hull saves you a step… you don't have to paint the cannon snouts separately!


Looks I forget the final painting pass on these masts! I see blue goofs. See what you learn when you take big pictures of little models?


The big spar connections on the rear mast are clunky, but anything else would have been too delicate.


I kept the sterns simple – just a solid color.


I was trying here for a plainer ship, perhaps with a captain of lesser means.


Those ropes or ties or whatever they are on the bowsprit sails were difficult to paint without doing too much.


My next project will be to paint the British brigs – same models, different paint scheme. Should go faster this time.


Your comments, criticisms, feedback, etc., are always welcome!