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To paint or not? Masking off area to show wood planking in just clear coat.

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Ahoy Mates


First I know that I am the builder and can do what I want with my model.


At our building groups meeting yesterday when showing them the progress on my Union Picket boat build,I showed them a test painted strip of the black that I will be painting the hull. They asked me why I was going to paint over the nice job that I had done on the planking of the hull?


Doug in our group was even mad at me for thinking of doing it. He has had a hard time with planking on his Boiunty and had to use quite a lot of filler on his planking. And said that it was not right to hide the planking on my build behind black paint.


I have thought about covering the planking that I had spent spiling and making sure that the steelers were used in the correct shape and size. I used this build to realy get ready for my build of the Caldercraft Mary Rose and other models that i have to build that will be bare wood,just sealed in clear.


I told them that I had thought of just painting black one complete side of the model leaving the other without paint to show the woodwork used in building the model. Or that I would just mask off an area on the hull when I paint it black,that will then only be in the clear coat showing the planks.


Have you seen any builds that have been painted with areas that have the wood planking showing without the paint covering them? And if so,what was the shape and size of the area that was showing the details?


What would be your siugestions as to shape,area(size of masked off area) and area of hull or areas to mask off and show?


Thanks ahead of time for your input.


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I have never seen that arrangement before, not the one side clear coated with one painted nor the patch of clear in a otherwise painted hull.  From a personal standpoint; I like neither choice as I would choose one or the other and certainly not the patch style. I'm not sure of the benefit to mask an area… That's my two cents...


I certainly don't have a problem with painting, in fact the ship I am currently building will be a painted POB hull and I look forward to the challenge.  I hope the planking goes great, without one speck of filler (one can hope) but I will still paint her as that is what this style of ship calls for.

With a better wood, say walnut, cherry, mahogany, a nice boxwood maybe, then I would hope to highlight gorgeous woods with clear coat but like you stated in your opening sentence, builders ship, builders choice. 


Bottom line; if you think it looks good with any version then that is what you should do. Doug will learn to understand  ;)

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Alternatively, you could spot paint.  I did that on my Wasa.  As far as the hull goes, I just painted the bulwarks and stern (along with seemingly a thousand figures).  I've also seen other builds done very effectively using that method. 

"The shipwright is slow, but the wood is patient." - me

Current Build:                                                                                             
Past Builds:
 La Belle Poule 1765 - French Frigate from ANCRE plans                             Triton Cross-Section   

                                                                                                                       USS Constellaton (kit bashed to 1854 Sloop of War  _(Gallery) Build Log

                                                                                Wasa (Gallery)

                                                                                                                        HMS Sphinx 1775 - Vanguard Models - 1:64               


Non-Ship Model:                                                                                         On hold, maybe forever:           

CH-53 Sikorsky - 1:48 - Revell - Completed                                                   Licorne - 1755 from Hahn Plans (Scratch) Version 2.0 (Abandoned)         



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The late Bob Comet of the Hampton Roads Ship Model Society built many models where he left one side unpainted to show the detail of his wood working.  You can see pictures of his models on the Gallery pages of the HRSMS website by clicking on the following link:  Bob Comet's Ship Models


He was a true craftsman, loved to teach ship modeling and a true friend to all of the club members.

Edited by Ryland Craze
Updated Link



Member - Hampton Roads Ship Model Society

            - Ship Model Society of New Jersey

               - Nautical Research Guild



Current Build - Armed Virginia Sloop, 18th Century Longboat

Completed Build - Medway Longboat

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  • 5 years later...

An updated link to Bob Comet's models.

I did my last model this way as well (painted one side, not the other).  Zero paint was not an option, since the original was so colorful.

You can also see pictures on our club's website.


The MSW link above does not yet have any photos of the unpainted side.  I'll add some later.  But it shows that the model can be viewed as fully-painted from many angles.  For this reason, I would paint a flat transom and any tumblehome on the (mostly) unpainted side.

The link to our website is not yet active. I hope to finish it soon.

Edited by gkharrin
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