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I recently had the pleasure of attending another Admiralty Models workshop, this time it was a two day workshop on painting friezes and flags. This was my fourth Admiralty Models workshop and as with all the others I came away with knowledge and skills that could immediately be applied. There were a total of 8 attendees, some of whom I knew from previous workshops and several new faces. This workshop was held in scenic Niagara-On-The-Lake, ON at David’s house.


The Friday session began with David giving a really informative demonstration on color theory. We all know that mountains in the distance look bluish even though we know they are covered with green trees. Many ship modelers don’t take this color shift into consideration when painting flags and friezes for their models. David explained how to select the correct colors to mix in order to arrive at a color that looks correct. I think everyone came away from this demo with a much better understanding of color and how it impacts our models.


Next we did a hands-on exercise painting a ball. If you paint a circle on a piece of paper all you have is a circle. If you are trying to represent an object that is three dimensional there are some techniques that can be employed to arrive at the effect. David walked us through these steps and I for one was very pleasantly surprised at how well my very first attempt turned out. With a better understanding of how to represent 3D objects we moved on.


We talked about how to prepare paper for painting so that it doesn’t curl up when it dries. There is nothing worse than spending time painting something only to have it curl when you are done (and we all know once that happens there is no undoing it). Next we talked about how to transfer a design to the paper that will be painted. With that done we moved on to actually painting some elements of a frieze. For our exercise we used some of the ornamentation from the stern of the Minerva of 1780 which is on display at the USNA Museum. We took our time with this exercise and at the end of the day I had started to master the skills needed to paint a more than passable frieze. It was a very productive day. One of my samples is displayed at the top of this post, much magnified.


Saturday started with coffee and a discussion of the previous day’s lessons. I think everyone was happy with what they had learned and the knowledge that they could apply what they learned to actual practice. We talked a bit about the subject each of us would use for today’s flag exercise. For mine I selected a US flag from 1815 which I then modified by adding the words “Don’t Tread On Me” on one of the white bars. David commented that this was an ambitious first project because each of the 15 stars was only approximately 1/8” high. With drawing in hand we moved down to the work area and got busy. Our flags would be painted on SilkSpan so that after they were painted we could drape them. David circulated as we worked and gave us tips as we painted and explained common mistakes people make when painting flags. By early afternoon my flag was painted and I was impressed. By using the color theory David had given us the day before I was able to paint a flag that really did look authentic.


Once the painting part of the lesson was done David went into detail how to mount the flag to a staff. Many people simply glue the edge of the flag to the staff and leave it at that. Left this way the flag is very unrealistic; it is flat and sticks straight out from the staff. Our last exercise was to drape our flag to give it a much more realistic look. This is the first flag I’ve painted and for a first effort I think it came out very well.




Every year as modelers many of us spend time and money trying to learn new skills that will allow us to better represent the ships our models portray. I’m a member of The NRG and the Ship Model Society of New Jersey and through these groups I get to rub elbows with some of the best modelers out there. I post here on Model Ship World but more importantly for me, I read the build logs of modelers far more skilled than me and I learn from each and every one of them. Over time I’ve built up a library of books and magazines and I spend countless hours every year reading them. All of this is done in the hope of improving the quality of the models I build. When trying to learn technical skills I have always done best when I work with a professional who can guide me personally. It’s for this reason that I consider the money I spend on workshops by Admiralty Models to be a very wise investment. Greg and David are some of the best in the business and working with them in very small friendly groups is an ideal way to learn. In the two years since I attended my first Admiralty Models workshop David and Greg have gone from being skilled mentors to friends that I can count on for advice.


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I second that! Here on the West Coast we have nothing like these classes. Would be nice to have a video on what these are. Even at a nominal cost on DVD.


How about it Admiralty?



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David and I (Admiralty Models) will happily travel to your local clubs, weddings or Bar Mitzvahs for individualized workshops. We're doing another cross-section workshop in Atlanta in November. It would be near impossible to do the contents of a workshop online as they cover two days. We provide the highlights in our accompanying booklets but the actual workshops consist of a series on demos followed by participants doing the work with help and guidance as needed.


We were very close to doing a California workshop this year but fell just a few participants short of making it happen. Possibly videos in the future...stay tuned.

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Videos would be great! Watching someone do it is so much easier to "get" than just reading about it, no matter how well written. Of course, nothing beats face to face, but if that's not possible, video is a good option.

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These workshops are not so much 'see' as 'do'. While there are demonstrations of techniques and discussion, much of the weekend is taken up with participants actually trying out and practicing these techniques. There is ample one-on-one assistance and feedback - impossible on a DVD recording. One learns much more by doing than by simply hearing or watching.


Also, quality video production, other than in a studio and editing suite, is another subject entirely.

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