Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Scratch built shipping container

I finished painting this shipping container test model. I am building a set of modular storage containers as an easy to store set of terrain for modern and sci-fi games. The container is 5 cm high (2 inches), 5 cm wide and 12 cm long (5 inches). I have another 11 of these in progress. In a later post I will make a tutorial showing how to build these and then a tutorial on painting them. The wonderful sheet metal texture comes from a large sheet of corrugated card I found at an art store. It is great stuff to work with and (in my opinion) looks perfect at this scale.

I painted this shipping container pretty quickly using my airbrush and some sponge painting. I painted the lettering by cutting a simple stencil from a piece of painters tape and airbrushing white paint through it. I need some more logos and company slogans to paint on some of the containers. Any suggestions? I am planning to make an aquila stencil and maybe "Cadia". Other ideas?

I cut this simple stencil on my cutting mat using a pen, ruler, and exacto knife.
I then sprayed white through the stencil. Easy!
I painted the chips by sponging on a mix of dark brown and black paint then metal paint like in this tutorial on chipped metal. I airbrushed the blue and washed it with a rusty colour. I then airbrushed rust streaks and dirt using Vallejo Model Air Burnt Umber and Dark Earth.

The final effect is not a perfect scale model of a shipping container. It will happily stand in for one on the tabletop though. This model was a prototype for a set I am building of 11 more shipping containers. The final models have different doors and thinner metal coverings on the corners. I used white glue for gluing this model but switched to hot glue as it sets so much faster.

I used some plastic ladders from the hobby store on the end for gameplay purposes. It is a little large for the scale, but I don't really want to buy another set of ladders to replace these. The final models will also include small magnets at the corners so I can use them in different layouts (stacked, etc) without them falling over.

Comments and constructive criticism are greatly appreciated. Let me know what you like and what could be improved. I will be posting a tutorial on building and painting these later this month. Thanks for visiting.

Other shipping container links


  1. One or two of these would be cool...

    Also maybe a serial number somewhere on the door and of course the standard Imperial Aquila ;)

  2. This shipping container it the thing that i was thinking about for some time, i've almost kade 'em but cba to upload 'em at my blog :P

    Nicely done, i will update mine now ))

  3. Zab-Thanks for the idea. I have some that I printed off that I will have to glue on. Thanks for the idea.

    Pijamas-I've been thinking about it for ages too. I am looking forward to seeing what you have done with them.


  4. I love containers, they work really well, give you plenty of colourful terrain and can stack in such a way that is much more interesting and varied than a standard corner ruin. Your efforts a re ally cool, I look forward to the tutorials. I made mine out of now defunct chewing gum boxes

    I stencilled on a NUMA logo on the turquoise ones, as I'm a fan of Clive Cussler books but some were going to be stenciled with OOCL [Orient Overses Container Line]. Any of the current container companies would look fun in the 41st Millenium, little in joke that they're still hauling junk even across the galaxy. Failing that always go with big Numbers, they look cool.

  5. Numa is a good one. Might have to add that. I used to really enjoy the Clive Cussler books. That would be funny with current companies! Some russian letters would look cool too.

  6. This is going to be incredibly awesome, I've been wanting to get around to this exact same thing, but kept getting sidetracked with other projects.

    I'll definitely be following this throughout.

  7. The name 'Weyland' or 'WEYLAND INDUSTRIES' or even just their logo would make for some cool sci-fi shipping containers.

  8. What does the UCI stand for?

    1. It's the international cycling organization.


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