Realistic Wood
Decks

by
Rusty White
Flagship Models, Inc.

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Painting wood decks is pretty straightforward right?  Wood decks really are no problem with 1/700-scale ships. I use Testors Deck Brown with lightened with some Camouflage gray, and it works very well.

Wood decks have always been a problem in 1/350 scale and larger. These larger scales demand more than the overall deck brown color.   The problem is at these scales, deck brown looks too monochromatic and out of scale. I've read some articles on highlighting deck planks with colored pencils and pastels, but I have never been satisfied with the result.   After some experimentation, I came across a technique that fills the bill. It gives the look of various planks and looks like the real thing. I first tried it on the Tamiya USS New Jersey. It is covered with a teak wood deck from bow to stern except where the helopad is located, and is an excellent subject for the full wood deck treatment.

First, mix some teak colored paint. You will need three different shades, so get three bottles and number them 1,2, and 3. To mix a realistic teak color you will need a couple of bottles of Testors Deck Brown, as well as bottles of yellow, red and Camouflage Gray. I filled bottle No. 1 half full with Deck Brown, added a little yellow to the mixture and mixed well.   Add three bee bees to each jar to speed things up. If you have a hobby paint shaker, so much the better. The brown should have a definite yellow tint to it. Now add a few drops of red. The red goes a long way, so easy does it. Mix again and check the color. I'm not giving exact quantities because it depends on individual taste and the age of the deck. Just slowly add yellow and red until you get the shade you want. Adding more paint is far easier than correcting too yellow or red a shade, so try not to go overboard. Adding too little red or yellow is is better than too much. After adding thinner you should have a full bottle of teak color. 

Thinning is important. We will be adding as many as six coats of paint. The thinned paint should be about a 50/50 mix (if not more diluted), and have the consistency of milk. Now with bottle #1 full, take about 1/4 of the paint and transfer it to bottle #2. What you want to have is three distinct shades of brown. Add a little more yellow and red to bottle #2, but this time add some Camouflage Gray to lighten it. Remember to both mix thoroughly and keep track of the shade. Remove some paint from bottle #2 and repeat this step for bottle #3. Add Camouflage Gray to lighten even more.

Test your colors on a sheet of white poster board. Paint the colors next to each other so you can see the contrast.   Remember, you need three distinct colors. Make adjustments if needed. I paint the decks first, so masking is not needed.    Paint the entire deck the lightest shade of brown and let dry overnight.

While you're waiting on the brown to dry, go to an architectural supply house and check out their line of Chartpack "Crepe" tapes.   Chartpack tape comes in widths thinner than 1/16" to as wide as ." Be sure to get the "Crepe"
tapes. They are very close to masking tape in consistency. Depending on which scale you're working with, pick the width that matches the plank width on your model.

Before anymore painting takes place, you will have to do a lot of cutting and sticking of Chartpack tape. Stretch out some tape on a piece of glass or other smooth surface. Now cut it into different length strips varying from 1 inch to a half inch.   Use these strips to mask off planks on the deck. Keep the pattern scattered and realistic. Don't bunch too many in one spot. A consistent pattern looks the most realistic. Also, make certain the strips are pointing perfectly from bow to stern.   No angled strips! This will blow the whole effect, so keep your mind on your work. No daydreaming!

Now paint two coats of #2 over the whole deck. Let dry overnight, and repeat the tape technique. Paint two coats of #3 and let dry overnight. Once the paint has dried, begin removing the tape with a fine pair of tweezers. Once the tape is removed it looks... CRAPPY!  Too much contrast! I'm gonna cram this model where this guy will never find it! Hold on.   It's supposed to look this way. For the final step, DUST the entire deck with the lightest shade. Gradually, the colors begin to blend. Continue with the dust coats until it looks good to you. You can easily adjust the contrast to depict new decks or older ones. 

This technique will work equally well on painted decks. I plan to give it try on my 1/350 scale Hornet. It should prove to be quite a challenge. The New Jersey required almost nine yards of tape cut into tiny strips. While time consuming, the results are worth it. Try it. You'll be happy with dramatic and realism and visual interest it will bring to your work.


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