Painting Tutorials

Dreadfleet – Shadewraith

Dreadfleet painting shadewraithThe ghost ship Shadewraith now sails the deadly seas.

I painted the ship in two levels of quality. initially I thought it would be a fast ship to paint and thus painted it using washes. After it was dry I looked over the ship and found that there were so many details that were not done justice by washing alone, and the sails look rather flat. So I decided to revisit the paint job by adding multiple levels of grey/white highlights to the entire ship to compliment the green washes.

Now to discuss the entire painting process from the beginning.

To begin painting the ship, I undercoated it in a matt black. Once dry I painted everything in GW Astronomican Grey. This grey is a Foundation paint and as such covers over the black undercoat very well. I only painted one layer of the grey over the ship as I knew i would be building highlights and shade layers over this layer. This colour would also establish the overall bas colour of the ship.

Once the grey was dry, I coated the entire ship in GW Thraka green wash. This would put the dark green wash into all the crevasses. I would revisit this later when dry to add a highlight green. When looking over this ship, if there are any dark crevasses, add a little GW Badab black wash to the green wash and paint it into those deeper crevasses.

Once the wash is dry, you will notice that your ship is more green than grey at this point, don’t worry.

To highlight the green ghostly parts of the ship, take some GW Scorpion Green and mix it with the GW Thraka Green wash (1:1). Dab this around randomly in the more built up areas of the original green wash. Pay attention to ensure that the ghosts holding the ship up are picked out and the oil fire on the top mast is also captured.

Now take that Astronomican Grey again and this time we’re going to dry brush the whole ship with it. This will remove the excess green wash from the highlight points and leave it only in the crevasses.

Now this is where we split out painting quality style. Up to now, if you like the overall look, then simply get some white, mixed 1:1 with some Astronomican grey and dry brush the ship and sails to provide that last coat.

I wasn’t happy with the ship at this point and decided to implement some manual highlighting and shading without washes. I would normally do this for the miniatures I paint, but thought I might get away without needing to do this for this particular ship due to it having only frames rather than lots of solid surfaces.

First step was to get the shading in. I mixed a little GW Chaos Black with the GW Astronomican grey (1:2) and started to paint these into the sails crevasses. I intentionally left the green shades already there alone and simply continued the darker grey mix where the green stopped. I then mixed a lighter shade by adding more GW Astronomican grey in with black (3:1) and painted it into the ends of the crevasses and into the sail flaps where shade would normally occur. Then finally i mixed a 4:1 ration for the grey and black to produce the lightest of the shades and blended this at the tips and ends of the last shade coat.

I replicated the above step on the ship itself, paying attention to keep the shading around the middle of wood beams and anywhere where the beams would cross over.

For highlighting, I mixed a light highlight of Astronomican Grey and white (2:1) and began picking the raised areas of the wood beams, and sails. I then mixed a lighter highlight of 1:1 and began picking all the extreme tips of the wood and sails. Finally I painted some pure white tips on the most extreme parts of the ship, including the mast tips, the skeleton on the prox, the oil fire on the top mast and some of the cannons around the ship.

Finally I painted some GW Badab black wash  into the top mast’s oil fire at the end tips to give it a smokey appearance. I also painted the wash at the bottom of the stand which is holding the ghost ship up to let it blend somewhat with the water base.

Once done we return to paint any seaweed on the ship in brown, with a GW Badab black wash and a 1:1 mix of brown and GW Astronomican grey for the highlights.

The finished results look like this:

Dreadfleet painting shadewraith

Dreadfleet painting shadewraith

Dreadfleet painting shadewraith


I am currently focusing my commission work around Dreadfleet at the moment, so if you want your box set or individual ships painted please use the contact form to receive a quote.


One Comment

  1. That is a great paint job. I have Dreadfleet still boxed until I am very happy with my painting skills. I’ve been dry-brushing, highlighting and layering for years but decided to buy the GW paint guide and DVD yesterday. I could not believe just how simple some techniques are to get the same results (often way better too) that I was achieving before hand via more labour.
    The main thing I have learnt thus far from the guide is just how great washes and glazes are to get really good effects in half the time!
    Anyway, currently painting Dark Vengeance and the Hobbit, with the intention to make Dreadfleet my ultimate show piece 🙂 Very glad I stumbled upon this guide, again: nice one!

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