Admiral Croissant

Tutorial: Making Sails (the Vesta way)

11 posts in this topic

I recently had a look at the index, and I found out there was no tutorial for making sails the way for example Green Hair, Perfectionist and I do it.

In this tutorial I will mainly focus on the main topsail because if you know how to do that one, all the other sails will be a piece of cake as well.

The first thing when you want to make sails is of course looking for reference.

There are some good books about ships but there are also many good drawings on the internet.

Then you can (if you want to) put a piece of cotton or other cloth (linen for example) in a bucket with tea or coffee. I used black tea.

Coffee will give them more this colour.

I use tea because it looks more stained like these sails (although these are a bit too dirty IMO).

But perhaps the stained look is achieved because I folded the cloth in the tea.

With unbleached cotton this is of course not necessary, and perhaps not smart but I've never tried it.

After soaking, it's smart to iron the sails so you don't have all the wrinkles in it.

Next thing is to decide the scale of the sail. In this tutorial I'm making the sail twice as large as on the picture:

tutorial1.png

tutorial2.png

In that scale you can make the outlines of the sail:

tutorial3.png

Then you can add vertical lines. On minifig illusion scale 1cm between each line looks realistic.

But Greenhair and Perfectionist are using more space between them and that doesn't look bad either.

tutorial4.png

On the right half of this sail I used a darker pencil than on the left halft to show you the difference.

I think the lighter half looks the best.

tutorial5.png

Now on to the horizontal lines, which you can see here:

tutorial6.png

Note: not all sails have these horizontal lines. It depends on the ship you're making which ones do and which ones don't have them.

The space between each line is about 1cm, so that makes 2cm on my sail.

tutorial7.png

tutorial8.png

tutorial9.png

Next thing is too add spots on the place where usually are ropes. I believe the ropes are used for taking in the sails.

Adding all those ropes is too much work IMO (although it has been done), so to give the impression of them, I add these dots. Here are the ropes on a picture:

tutorial10.png

tutorial11.png

When you're finished with that, the next thing is too make the outlines brown.

This is not neccesary, but it looks quite nice. It resembles the rope on the edge of the sails, like you can see on the bottom of this picture.

Be sure to make these lines quite thick, so it's easier when you're cutting the sails out.

tutorial12.png

Of course, you want all the lines to be visible on both sides and on exactly the same place.

When you're very good in measuring, you can just draw the same thing on the other side.

Another (perhaps easier) way is to place the cloth on a window (or a light table), so you can easily trace the lines.

tutorial13.png

Even easier is to trace a few important dots on the edges, so you can connect them on your table. Drawing on a window is quite hard.

Now you can cut the sail out.

tutorial17.png

One of the last things is to varnish the edges. This is to prevent the sail from unraveling.

I always use revell varnish, but perhaps nail polish or glue works fine as well.

If you dont want the sails to be modular, you can also put glue all over the sails and let it bend in a certain shape like wind blowing in the sail.

Use about this much:

tutorial21.png

And the final thing of course is to sew the sail on a yard, and put it on your ship:

vesta_3.jpg

Finally, for making jib sails, there are different line patterns:

tutorial23.png

The one on the left is the most common. The one in the middle is quite rare, and the one on the right is more modern (clipper era and later).

Comments and questions are always welcome.

Good luck!

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Fantastic tutorial Admiral Croissant, I think this will really help out a lot of people and maybe open the doors for more people doing custom sails. I think the most beneficial part for me is the bit about the scale and coloring, what a brilliant idea about soaking it in tea or coffee.

Thanks AC :pir-classic:

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Great tutorial :thumbup: Could have used this about a week ago when I started making sails for the Pickle but hey, at least its around now too. I did things a bit differently, using heavier cloth and folding the edges over and gluing them so they don't unravel. It looks a bit thicker, but is "pose-able" to bend in to what ever shape you want.

5610934713_60559377f7.jpg

Great idea with the pencil lines too, Ill have to try that next. Out of curiosity what is that book you are using as reference?

:jollyroger: Dread Pirate Wesley

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Out of curiosity what is that book you are using as reference?

It's "The Ship" (or "Het Schip" in Dutch) by Björn Landström. A very good book with a good overview of ship development.

Thanks for the great guide! Where do you get your fabric from? is it a special weight cotton to stand up to the soaking?

Actually it's just an old fitted sheet and to be honest I'm not sure if it's cotton, but I believe it is.

I believe normal cotton doesn't go to waste or something when you soak it.

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Actually it's just an old fitted sheet and to be honest I'm not sure if it's cotton, but I believe it is.

I believe normal cotton doesn't go to waste or something when you soak it.

yeah, sorry, i meant if it was some kind of thicker cotton but i guess even thin cotton can be ironed to get rid of all the little wrinkles that come with soaking

Edited by Admiral of the Red

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Nice tutorial Admiral Croissiant! A great tutorial for giving a model more realism. Again nice tutorial!

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Great tutorial,Have ordered my cloth and waiting to have a go, was using plastic shim material cut to lego patterns but these are really good and the tip with varnish never thought of that. Cheers once done will just have to post the ship and get some advice. Have ordered a light canvas material,

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Good that you want to give it a try!

I hope you don't face too many problems, but if you do, don't hesitate to ask questions.

Good luck! I'm looking forward to the result :pir-classic:

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Nice, admiral! I asked my mother.. she maked the sails like the sails from the Imperial flagship ;)

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This is such a great detail. I would not have though about that!

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