The SeadrakeCelebrity Dreadfleet charity project, completed April 2012
Back in the fall of 2011, Games Workshop released Dreadfleet: a limited edition, stand-alone game that harkens back to the halcyon days of Man O’War. I’m not often a fan of vehicle-games, but I really enjoyed Man O’War back in the day and really liked the look of the wonderfully detailed Dreadfleet ship sculpts. Unfortunately, it wasn’t realistic to think I would (could) paint all the ships in that game.
Enter fellow hobbyist Dave Pauwels.
Dave was in a similar quandary – liked the models, but didn’t really expect to paint them all [to a level he’d be happy with]. So he gathered a crew of fellow painters and hobbyists, each of us bribed, cajoled, or threatened into painting one of the ten ships from a single copy of Dreadfleet. To help motivate us (and to avoid fighting over who got to keep what at the end), Dave proposed we raffle off the completed set at Adepticon 2012 and donate the proceeds to Ocean Conservancy (as a water-based charity seemed to make sense).
This ended up being one of the most “stock” miniatures I’ve painted in a quite a while. The only conversions were a slight reposing of the dragon’s left (port?) wing to a more natural-seeming pose and the removal of the sculpted runes from the sails. There wasn’t anything wrong with those runes per se (or the other sails with sculpted details) and I can certainly see the benefit for a lot of painters, but on something this scale, I prefer my sailcloth smooth and my iconography painted.
I set out to paint the ship close to the studio color scheme of white hull and blue sails, but I didn’t want it to be identical to every other Seadrake out there. I started with a base of Bleached Bone on the hull, intending to layer up from there, and Ultramarine Blue on the sails, intending to shade down. As is so often the case, it didn’t quite work out that way, and my sails ended up rather lighter than planned with my hull a bit darker.
I mentioned above that I was impressed with the level of detail on these ships, but I can’t say I was always happy about it during the project. My initial impression soured a bit as I worked, finding tiny additional features almost daily that needed to be cleaned or painted. Now that the project is complete, I’m free to like the level of detail again.
One lesson (re)learned during the project was my general aversion to painting vehicles. I already knew I wasn’t a big fan of painting vehicle models, but I didn’t think it would apply in this case or on this scale. I was mistaken. After the umpteenth night of trying to wring a few hours painting progress out of this ship, I decided I’d had enough of blue and bone and started working on the little dragon perched on the stern. Unlike the ship itself, the paint on this component came together wonderfully well and shockingly fast. I started and finished that little dragon the same night [~3 hours]. That may sound like a lot of time to spend on a 1” dragon, but remember it’s all relative. Given my standard painting speed, finishing anything in one sitting is insanely fast.
I happened to have this anti-vehicle epiphany as my wife was sitting nearby. During a pause in my otherwise constant grumbling, she asked,
“When was the last time you painted a vehicle?”
I decided it would have been the land raider for my “paint-to-play” Praetormarine army and replied, “Early 2004.”
“So I guess you’ve learned your lesson for another 8 years then…”