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Need help on painting sails


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I have no experience with Vallejo textile paint, but it sounds good...any textile dye will do I guess.


Best make several test swaps before you do something you'll regret.

Also worth trying...wash the painted swaps one or more times...to see what happens. A somewhat faded look can be very nice.

Avoid overly bright colours. Try to mix red with brown and maybe a bit black for the darker stripes.


When you wash dyed fabric with 2 colours...be careful...the colours can bleed/blend.

To set textile dye...wash with water with some vinegar.


Looking forward to your build!


Robin  :)

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It is a question of scale and what the base material is going to be. Real fabric is not really suitable except for the largest scales, say 1:20 or above, due to too coarse weaving and thick threads.


Personally, I would go for either the silk fabric that is/was used in model aeroplanes or fine paper. Both can be stabilised and shaped using diluted white glue or thin lacquer. They then can be painted e.g. with acrylic paints.


Below is an example from my own production (in 1:90 scale):






The sails are put together from individual panels. I gather something similar could be done for your sail and the panels painted in different shades of red (ochre). What is the latest research on Viking-age sails ? I am not up-to-date there, but believe that at some stage diagonal panesl were discussed and re-inforcements with leather stripes.

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Do you mean a 'furling' sail, or a 'furled' sail, i.e. is it a static model, or do you want to move the sails ?


If you use the silk mentioned as a basis and give it a thin coat with diluted acrylic paint to close the 'holes' in the fabric, it stays reasonably flexible and can be furled before(!) being really painted. A too thick coat of paint may come off. However, this may require some experimenting. I would also paint the two different colours as base-coat before furling in order to see, where the separation line between the colours will be.


Constructing the sail from individual panels could be difficult then, as the 'seams' would not be very strong and my come loose when furling. However, I have done this (individual panels) also on the model in 1:60 scale below and they furled reasonably well. I had some problems with the bolt-ropes though.






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Thx for keeping up trying to help me. English is not my mother language you see... I ment furled sail (its a static model).


Sorry but I havent understood tha with the silk sail. You mean first give it a thin coat then furled it and the paint the finish coat as is allready furled? Sorry for bothering u so much and thx again for your responses

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Textile paints - as far as I know - are not meant to close-up the meshes in the fabric. However, this is really what you need to do, because threads and meshes even of the silk are too coarse. At the model scale you just want to have a hint of texture. In fact the silk only acts as a pliable and non-directional backing.


The thicker the layers of paint, the more difficult the furling is going to be and the less 'natural' and to scale it will look. That is why I suggested to first apply a minimum of paint and then, after furling, apply more paint, if needed. However, this requires a bit of experimenting. In fact, I believe Viking-age sails were woven from wool, rather than flax or linen, which is not easily available in the North (but may have become available through trade routes from Rus or the Baltic areas). This may be good news for model representation, as you would have a rather coarse fabric.


When painting the sail you can give it also more plasticity by applying shadows and highlights - just as figure-modellers do to depict fabric. You may want to consult related Web-sites or fora.

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